Rachael Blackmore, Cian O’Connor and Nina Carberry ‘Champion’ Festina Lente’s Campaign to Raise A Critical €3 Million To Secure A New Home

  • 6 April 2022, 18:20

– Hasten Not!! Festina Lente Charity To Gallop Ahead To Create A Much Needed Training Centre For Children With Special Needs –

Wednesday, 6 April 2022: Ireland’s equine stars Rachael Blackmore, Cian O’Connor and Nina Carberry championed support today at Dartmouth Square to help raise an urgently needed €3 million to secure a new home for Ireland’s top equine and horticultural learning charity for those with special needs and a further €20 million to develop it.

Festina Lente currently homed in Bray, must raise €3 million to secure the purchase of Belfield House and lands in Kilpeddar, County Wicklow in order to facilitate an essential move and expansion.  The Charity described as ‘World Class’ is known across the racing industry for its outstanding work in the field of equine assisted learning for those with special needs and their training programmes. Currently they employ 60 staff and touch the lives of over 40,000 Irish people each year.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner and Ambassador to Festina Lente, Rachael Blackmore, championed the appeal ‘I was lucky to spend time with some of the children at Festina Lente recently. They are all champions, keen to learn and benefit from the special connection horses have with humans.  Festina Lente’s extensive list of programmes offer a future path in life to those in need.  This is why raising the funds to secure their new home is critical.’

Jockey Rachael Blackmore Sam Murphy at the Festina Lente Equestrian Centre in Bray Co Wicklow

23 September 2021; Jockey Rachael Blackmore Sam Murphy at the Festina Lente Equestrian Centre in Bray Co Wicklow. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Dr. Jill Carey, CEO of Festina Lente explains their plans to re-train retired racehorses, ‘Festina Lente’s plan is to build a state-of-the-art National Education Centre to continue our current work. We will be also focussing on re-training and re-purposing racehorses, enabling these animals to have a second career in riding clubs, dressage, show jumping and in certain equine assisted learning programmes. As part of this, Festina Lente will develop an accredited training programme for equestrians wishing to learn how to look after and work with ex-race horses.’

Dr. Jill Carey, CEO, Festina Lente with Horse

Dr. Jill Carey, CEO, Festina Lente

Patron of Festina Lente and Head of the Fundraising Committee, Finbar Cahill, claims, ‘It is critical to the survival of Festina Lente that the €3 million is raised to fund a purchase of Belfield House which has already been agreed. Once we are over this first hurdle, the second challenge will be to raise the €20 million to get the facility up and running.’

Over 25 years ago, Conor Murray joined the Magnier family’s Coolmore Stud having been trained by Festina Lente. His journey started at school where he found himself challenged with some elements of learning, he claims, ‘It was my teacher, John Boland (Clonmel Highschool) that got me involved with Festina Lente. I used to go to the horse show with my neighbours in the summers and so when I heard about the opportunity to go to Festina Lente I jumped at it!  Festina Lente trained me and got me work experience placements, one of which was Coolmore Stud. After I graduated, I applied for a full-time job and I was successful. I work with the mares early each morning taking care of all their needs, and I love it. Coolmore has become a way of life and a family to me.’

Coolmore Stud Manager, Tom Lynch adds, ‘Conor has been a hardworking and popular member of our team here at Coolmore. He has always spoken highly of his time in Festina Lente and especially of his tutor Deirdre Bangham.’

Champion trainer Willie Mullins commented, ‘Festina Lente is recognised for its work not only in Ireland but worldwide and Dr. Jill Carey and her team are the undoubted experts and go to people in this unique field of assisted learning.  Faced with ever-increasing demands for its services and lengthy waiting lists Festina Lente is rising to the challenges. It’s new home will not only accommodate more students but will offer it the opportunity to rehouse and retrain racehorses together with a new course teaching retraining skills.’

People can donate to support Festina Lente, directly online on www.festinalente.ie/a-new-home-for-Festina-Lente/

More about Festina Lente

Festina Lente has historically been best known for its role in the development of equine-based programmes which promote the physical, psychosocial and mental well-being programmes of people affected by disability and /or socio-economic disadvantage. More recently it has gained significant reputation in the development of social and therapeutic horticulture as a modality for improving peoples’ well-being.