Stellar Night for Stables

Just months after her crowdfunding campaign won the Nation’s backing, Park Lane Stables (PLS) owner Natalie O’Rourke and her team have won The Sun newspaper’s Best Health Charity award. 

More used to mucking out, and the often unglamorous but rewarding task of looking after 23 horses for disabled riders, the invitation to the star-studded Who Cares Wins Awards came as a complete surprise. 

The event, held at Camden’s Roundhouse, celebrated everyday heroes who had really made a difference.

PLS was recognised for the joy it brought to peoples’ lives during the pandemic, and for Natalie’s phenomenal crowdfunding campaign which raised £1.3 million. When asked about the glitzy awards ceremony, Natalie said: “It was such an honour, it felt totally surreal to be surrounded by so many famous people.

Felt like we were in a dream and the next day when I woke up I had to check it had actually happened!”

The glitterati, sharing the evening with them and NHS nominees who had shone brightly in a Covid-hit year, included: Prince William, David Beckham, Mark Cavendish, Kate Garraway, and the PM.

During the event, Philippa George, a regular rider at the stables was swept up by ex-Strictly dancer AJ Pritchard, while Prince William charmed Natalie and her daughter Alice, aged 10. “Meeting Prince William had to be the highlight. He was so down to earth, kind and genuine.”

Whilst shocked to win, Natalie said of the award: “It is great recognition for our team and all of our volunteers who work so hard.”

She felt as they collected the award from Chris Evans that it was for anyone involved in the Riding for the Disabled Association. Since the crowdfunding, PLS, based at a temporary home at Manor Farm Stables, Petersham, has received hundreds of letters and visitors from across the UK.

So what’s next for PLS after 32,000 people donated for the stables to stay local?

Trustee Paul Bursche said: “The PLS legal team and Natalie continue to work very hard on a return to Park Lane and remain hopeful of a positive outcome.” 

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