Driving Back to Sport
27 September 2011

More people will be given the opportunity to try their hand at the exhilarating sport of carriage driving thanks to funding from Sport England and an innovative new project designed to encourage mature adults to take up the reins.

The British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) has been awarded a ?30,000 Sportmatch grant, the first of its kind given for any equestrian discipline, for its project called Driving Back to Sport which aims to introduce 200 mature adults to carriage driving and sustain their interest in the long-term.

BHDTA Marketing Programme Director Chris Hillman saw a niche in the Sport England criteria, and that very few sports catered for the more mature adult. Driving horses is perfect as it requires no great physical fitness to start the sport. Working closely with the British Equestrian Federations (BEF) regional development team to secure the bid, Chris said: "Carriage driving is perfect for boosting confidence, and getting people back into physical activity". The Driving Back to Sport project will not only give people the opportunity to try Driving for free, but it will hopefully increase BHDTA membership at the lower levels, thus helping to ensure our sports long-term sustainability.

The application took nearly 8 months to put together. Firstly the BHDTA had to get a sponsor and secured ?15,000 from Dinton Associates, and then apply to Sport England so they could match this amount. Chris said: "We had to research the need for the project in the areas of the country we could deliver it, gaining support from County Sport Partners, Local Authorities and the BEF along the way". Anne Clarke, who is the Non Olympic discipline lead at the BEF was invaluable in giving input into the background of Sport England, highlighting the need to show understanding of Sport England's market segmentation tool and enabling us to get feedback before our application was officially made.

Hugh Scott-Barrett, who put in the original ?15,000 to get the project started said: "I am delighted that Dinton Associates' support for carriage driving is now being match-funded by Sport England. This support will help attract new talent to a sport which has much to offer sponsors and competitors alike."

Recruitment to the project will be undertaken through a media drive and radio campaign that will look for 1,000 interested individuals in the South East, Midlands, East and North East areas. Fifty individuals from each region will then be chosen to take part in a series of one-to-one sessions delivered by UKCC coaches (United Kingdom Coaching Certificate), ensuring a high quality programme of tuition is provided to the newcomers. Each person will have a Personal Development Plan (PDP) to evaluate their progress.

Richard Lewis, Chairman of Sport England, added: "The opportunity to try a new sport for the first time is often all a person needs to catch the sporting bug. The Driving Back to Sport project is a great way for mature adults to try driving and get a quality sporting experience that will encourage them to stay involved."

For more information and to apply for a place please email lucy@instinctivepr.co.uk