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Family Day Out for Puckane School

Tuesday, 16th February, 2016 10:20am
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Family Day Out for Puckane School

Libby Grey, Ballyartella

Family Day Out for Puckane School

Libby Grey, Ballyartella

Another big day out for all the family is planned next month as the annual Ballycommon Sponsored Ride gears up in support of Kildangan National School.

New novelty events including a horse jumping challenge for local 'celebrities' are included in this year's BSR, which is being held in aid of a new playground for the Puckane school. Now in its sixth year, previous beneficiaries of the popular horse ride include TLC4CF, North Tipperary Hospice, One in Four and Nenagh Special Summer Camp.

Due to take place on Sunday March 20th, the 2016 BSR is reconnecting with the first event in the series, which was held in aid of 'Mírmeara', the autism unit at Kildangan NS. There is a synergy between the BSR and the school in that the ride is an 'all-inclusive' event, to which everyone in the community is invited, while Kildangan NS works to include children of all abilities in school activities.

Attracting local and national media attention over the years, the Ballycommon Sponsored Ride sees upwards of 200 horse riders undertake a series of trails around some of North Tipperary's finest countryside. But apart altogether from being an event purely for horse riders, the BSR is billed as a family day out with something for everyone to enjoy.

There are, for example, 'tractor taxis' to ferry spectators of all ages around the routes, allowing people to get up close to the horse jumping action while also taking in the fine scenery, including a chance to sight eight counties from the top of Kildangan ('Turret') Hill.

A big attraction this year will be the 'Celebrity Wall' puissance, a new addition in which a large group of well known local personalities will take on a daring horse jump challenge. Titled 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Over It', the horses in the event are kindly sponsored by Nenagh Equestrian Centre.

There will also be a pony puissance and horse jumping for children, as well as free refreshments on the day. The BSR sets out from and returns to The Thatched Cottage in Ballycommon where the fun continues into the evening with a barbeque, live music, karaoke, raffle and screening of video footage of the day's events. Meanwhile apparel and other merchandise will be available on the day.

With some 120 jumps across a variety of terrain, the BSR is open to riders of all levels. The organisers are especially keen to see new riders getting involved and point out that riders can choose between three different groups – the Mad Hackers, Happy Hackers or Leisurely Hackers – and the jumps are optional.

Sponsorship cards are available in many local pubs and businesses. Riders who raise more than the entry fee on their card will have the fee waived and riders that raise more than €100 will be entered into a draw with some fantastic prizes to be won.

The organisers of the event will soon be approaching local businesses in search of sponsorship. Businesses can have their advertising displayed on jumps and in the BSR booklet, as well as the DVD of the event. There will also be a 'patron pack' with a T-shirt and other offers for anyone who wants to contribute to the event in a private capacity.

It's all in aid of the playground project at Kildangan NS where the school management has set a target of €70,000 to provide enhanced play facilities for all of its 137 pupils. The school's 'Mírmeara' special class for autism was set up in 2006. One of only three special classes of its kind in the locality, Mírmeara serves a huge catchment area and is presently availed of by six children.

To date, the inclusion of pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) within the mainstream setting has been very successful. Kildangan NS would now like to extend this success to the playground and social setting by including and uniting pupils in play. The proposed playground would benefit the whole school community, presenting opportunities of learning through play that would be accessible and usable for all pupils.

The playground is to feature modular play equipment, which is carefully researched to incorporate incidental opportunities for social, physical, cognitive, emotional and creative child development. The concept promotes the wellbeing, physical, mental and social development of children through play - an underpinning philosophy of the 'Aistear' Early Childhood Curriculum.

Note that the BSR is a free event for spectators but donations will be invited on the day. The event is held in conjunction with the North Tipperary Foxhounds and with the generosity of local landowners.

For more information, including details of how you can become a patron, email mirmeara@yahoo.ie, phone 087-2430546 or contact any member of the BSR committee. See also the Facebook page 'Bally Common Sr' for further updates over the coming weeks.

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