A young rider has taken part in a Captain Tom-inspired challenge to raise much-needed funds for the ponies at Quest, a member group of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) near Chobham in Surrey,

Isla Williams has an extremely rare and disabling genetic condition of Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP), which progressively causes extra bone to form in the connective tissues.

Isla cycled 50 laps of her local sports ground. Photo credit: RDA

Despite this, the seven-year-old took on the RDA group’s Golden Anniversary Challenge and cycled 50 times around her local recreation ground to raise money. Isla’s sponsorship total is nine times more than her original target at over £2,300.

Last week she was also interviewed on TV for GB News.

“When presenter Michelle Dewberry — the first winner of the UK’s Apprentice — heard about Isla’s feat, she asked to feature her in the regular ‘good news’ section of their Dewbs & Co programme on Thursday 17th June,” said a statement.

Due to her condition, Isla has very little movement in her upper body and her shoulders and elbows are locked bent.

“Despite this, she loves riding as it gives her the freedom of movement that she otherwise wouldn’t have,” added the statement.

Quest RDA celebrated its 50th birthday behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions in April this year and has only recently been able to open again to the public.

“This has had a great impact on [Quest’s] funding but it still has to meet the costs of keeping six horses as well as the extra costs of making the group Covid safe,” said the group’s chair, Julie Jones.

“With annual costs of £40,000, Isla’s and the other participants’ wonderful efforts will help enormously”.

Quest is keeping its Golden Anniversary Challenge open until the end of the year in the hope that more people will join in.

Other challengers include:

  • Rhys Rawlings, who did 50 bounces on his trampoline to raise £500.
  • Elliott Masters, who led his mum, Stephanie, on Bassett — one of Quest’s horses — around the group’s ‘Sensory Woods’ 50 times to raise just over £1400.
  • Kate Pole, a trainee Coach and Quest participant, who jumped 50 fences — which is totally out of her comfort zone — and raised just £750.
  • Bella Pozella, who rode 50km despite undergoing an 18-month course of chemotherapy, raising over £1100.
  • Coach Megs Michael, who rowed 1km every day for 50 days and raised nearly £2000.
  • Chairman and coach Julie Jones, who completed 50 star jumps for 50 days, raising £746.

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