See Vera star Brenda Blethyn riding a horse as she opens a sensory garden at disabled horse-riding charity

Vera crime drama star Brenda Blethyn rode a horse as part of an opening of a sensory garden at a disabled riding school in Washington after she became a patron to the charity.

Brenda visited the charity, which is based at the Washington Riding Centre, on Saturday, August 27, almost one year after being invited by staff with the prospect of becoming a patron for privately funded Tyne & Wear Riding for the Disabled.

The centre was recommended to the star of the ITV series by Laura Carson, who grooms her dog when she is working on Vera in the North East.

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The actress rode Lucky, a horse based at Washington Riding Centre, around the grounds before cutting a ribbon at the opening of a new sensory garden at the site and presenting volunteers with awards.

Brenda Blethyn cuts the ribbon to open the Washington Riding Centre sensory garden.

Speaking during her visit, Brenda said: “I just love the creatures, I just think they’re beautiful animals. I love animals and when I was a kid I used to ride but not so much anymore. I once rode across the Nevada desert with Kris Kristofferson!

"I just think this place in Washington is wonderful, they have specially trained horses for the disabled and it’s just lovely.

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"I haven’t had a sense of smell since Covid and people said what benefit are you going to get from a sensory garden but it’s not just about smell, it’s about touch and sound – it’s absolutely fantastic.”

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Brenda Blethyn takes to the saddle at the opening of the Washington Riding Centre sensory garden.

Brenda got involved with the charity last year after it was severely impacted by the pandemic, which resulted in it having to retire some of its horses.

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The new garden has been specially designed to stimulate the senses with different materials to touch, smell and see for its members, along with a selection of flowers and plants.

Brenda added: “It’s brilliant being a patron for such a fantastic centre and I love it in the North East, it’s a great place and the people are so friendly.

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"The charity do such wonderful work so I just think it’s marvellous. I’m delighted to be here again to open the sensory garden, I love it. It has been a lovely day.”

Brenda Blethyn poses for guests photos at the opening of the Washington Riding Centre sensory garden.
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Brenda Blethyn and Tyne & Wear Riding for the Disabled administrator Eileen Curley.
Brenda Blethyn presents Washington Riding Centre staff members Ron Taylor and Gilda McCall with their certificates of recognition.