Tony has been volunteering at our Centre for 13 years. This is what he told us about how it all began, and why he's still here today:

"My late wife and I walked up the drive one day and thought, 'what are all those buildings?', and we came in...

My wife liked gardening, and I like horses. So I volunteered - it was as simple as that.

The [adults with learning disabilities] that come here have a tough deal in life, and the work makes me feel good".

Tony was modest when referring to his "slight background with horses". He told us what this background entailed... 

"I have got a slight background with horses, I learnt to ride as a 14-year-old. My dad was in the army, a lot of the barracks had horses. 

I also did 7 months with the King's Troop Artillery - they're the ones that pull carriages for the Queen during ceremonies. Unfortunately, I was never on a ceremonial ride". 

Tony did, however, transport the Queen's horses across London, by "riding one and leading two". He told us that "everyone used to stop and stare", mainly because "they're exceptional horses".

"I also worked on a stud farm, so I've kind of done various small things with horses throughout my life."

We asked Tony why he continues to volunteer his knowledge and experience with us, 13 years on. He said:

"I lost my wife, so this...this is the great salvation for me. It gives me company"

"I still ride, I'm 83! I still help muck out, I do everything! One of my tasks is to be in the school when they're running lessons, and to help out in there. I'm a BHS qualified instructor's assistant, I've even got my little badge saying so", he joked. 

When asked what he would say to others thinking of volunteering their time, Tony said: 

"Do it. Give it a go, the things you regret in life are the things you think about trying and never do. I would always say - have a go".

"It is phenomenal what they do here [at Ferring Country Centre]. As a charity, [the funding] all has to be found from somewhere". 

"I think it's a lovely lot to work for. I wouldn't be here otherwise!"