Barrow Farm Riding and Carriage Driving for the Disabled Carol Service

Saturday 15th December 2018

Located between Chelmsford and Brentwood in Essex, Barrow Farm Riding and Carriage Driving for the Disabled is a charity that our Company has supported for a great many years. The facilities are purpose built and are designed to make riding and carriage driving accessible for people who, for whatever reason, cannot be catered for at another riding school.

The charity's purpose is to provide physiotherapy and exercise, a chance to learn, the opportunity to make new friends, to build self esteem and confidence whilst also having fun. Over 100 children and adult riders and drivers come to Barrow Farm each week where the school has been been providing riding and driving experiences since 1976.

It is a highlight of a Master's year that he and the Mistress are invited to the Barrow Farm Carol Service where the children of the school enact the nativity including their ponies and horses. The event is typically attended by the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Mayor of Chelmsford and the Lord Lieutenant. With all this to look forward to we wended our way through what was one of the most miserable nights of the year as wind and driving rain rendered driving conditions very poor indeed. Happily, we made good time and pulled into the Barrow Farm yard a little ahead of time.

However, having done so, we could not help but notice that the place and the farm house close by were swathed in utter darkness. Furthermore, the yard was empty but for one other car that promptly drove away leaving us alone and feeling a little confused. Were we in the right place? At this moment a tap on the car's driver's window signalled that we were not alone after all and we were greeted by a lady, the lovely occupant of the farm house, who was stoically braving the weather to speak to any bemused visitors.

It transpired that the village had suffered a comprehensive power cut earlier in the day and that, despite repeated assurances from the energy supplier, the power had not been restored by that evening. Whilst Barrow Farm had made the decision to cancel the Carol Service in the afternoon, the attempts to contact all of the visitors for that evening were severely hampered by the fact that all electronic records with contact details were unavailable, as was the ability to email and telephone.

Whilst the outcome was sad for the vistors and guests, it was the children that really lost out. The months of preparation for their big night were all for nought. We passed our best wishes to the organisers and turned back for our homeward journey into the the wintery night. For us, this treat at Barrow Farm will have to be another year...