This week is Thanksgiving. As you all know, I am an American lost in the depths of Bedfordshire, but I still celebrate that which I think is very important. Before we get to Christmas with all the giving and receiving, it is right and proper that we should take a moment and count our blessings. After the hardships of the last couple of years you might say, “What have you got to be thankful for? What blessings have you got?” My answer is easy. We have much to be thankful for and about the beautiful community that has formed here at Sunshine.
It is not things we need to be thankful for but people. The people who come to Sunshine Riding week in and week out, month in and month out, have provided for us support, inspiration and love. By helping the staff feel we are not alone in the battle of weather and elderly horses and the bad things that people do to animals, our Volunteers and our Clients have helped make this yard a wonderful place to be. By caring for each other and the animals (I’m including all the cats and dogs as well as the horses), real friendships have formed. Relationships between people who would never have met in other circumstances are now the social glue of Sunshine. And for that I am grateful.
And these wonderful people are not only the Staff, but also our Volunteers and Handlers who give so freely of their time and energy. They are really what makes Sunshine, Sunshine. We have our Clients from age 3 to age “Do You Really Need To Ask Me That Question?” who delight us with their wonder and love for horses. And we are thankful for the parents who don’t question the need to get out of bed at an early hour on a Saturday or Sunday to bring their children to work or ride. We aren’t perfect here at Sunshine, but all of us are giving the extra mile and for that I am so very thankful.
The Community of Sunshine has grown a lot over the last few years. We have lots of new riders and their families as well as lots of new Handlers who are leaving their mark on Sunshine. This is the security of our future. Because the Community is strong and the atmosphere is open and accepting, we are financially secure which means the very important investment into new programmes can be made which will aid us in helping and developing others. Because we are secure, we can do our part in securing the safety and protection of the environment and green spaces around Luton. Sunshine isn’t going anywhere and for that I am so very thankful.
The last thing I am grateful for is Education. Sunshine is now able to offer more than “just” riding lessons. We are now offering Apprenticeships and NVQs, GCSEs & BTecs which all go along side our long standing tradition of offering Work Experience to Secondary School pupils. Our Handlers Programme slowly, almost sneakily, builds confidence and imbues a sense of fun when it comes to work. Our practical approach to Equine Education proves that not every qualification need be purely academic. I watch young and not so young become more confident, full of promise and self belief, doing more than they ever thought they could, and I am the one who is blessed.
Yes, I have much to be thankful for but none of it would have ever been possible if it were not for the Community that surrounds us. To each of you who are in our ever growing Community, I thank you for everything and I wish you a fulfilling holiday season. I know that mine will be fantastic because it started by me knowing I have much to be thankful for.