Exmoor Pony Centre saved after online campaign

The Exmoor Pony Centre at Ashwick near Dulverton has been saved from closure after it managed to raise £35,000 in just 42 days.

In April, the centre – which is run by the Moorland Mousie Trust – launched an online campaign to raise £20,000 after revealing it was facing “imminent closure” due to a downturn in financial revenue.

The centre admitted that it was “struggling to survive” and said its income in 2016 was £50,000, while its outgoings were £60,000.

Staff, volunteers, and trustees are now celebrating the astounding achievement, which saw more than 850 people donate to keep the centre open.

The centre is now “safe until the end of the year” and staff are focusing on plans for its long-term survival.

Centre manager, Linzi Green with Moorland Mousie Trust foals (Shandy, Rio and Tango) – image copyright: Doulla Aebli

Centre manager, Linzi Green, said it “really was a make or break situation”.

She added: “When we launched the appeal we were so desperate for funds to prevent the centre from closing.

“We are totally overwhelmed by the response and are so grateful to everyone who has donated.

“However we still desperately need funding to ensure the future of the charity and of the many Exmoor ponies we care for.”

Trustee Juliet Rogers said she was amazed by the public’s support.

She added: “It has been wonderful to see people from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, getting behind our charity and helping us to continue our work taking the unwanted Exmoor ponies who would otherwise have no future.”

Trustees also praised the centre’s volunteers and gave huge thanks to Gail Cheeseman and Doulla Aebli who organised the Crowdfunder campaign.

Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said she was “delighted” that the centre’s fundraising target was so “comprehensively beaten”.

She added: “Many congratulations to the Exmoor Pony Centre for a fantastic fundraising effort. It is a testament to the dedication and hard work of a small team of people who care so much about the Exmoor ponies which enliven our landscapes.”

Situated in the heart of the Exmoor National Park, the Exmoor Pony Centre is a small charity-run business which works to “promote and protect” the endangered rare-breed Exmoor pony, many of which are slaughtered every year after the annual pony gatherings.

The centre was opened to the public in 2006, and is run by a small team of staff and volunteers. Over 5,000 people visit the centre every year.

The centre is owned by the Moorland Mousie Trust, which was founded in 2000 by Val Sherwin and Sue Wingate. The trust is named after the Moorland Mousie books written by Golden Gorse, the pseudonym of Muriel Wace.