A pioneering Aberdeenshire charity has won the prestigious Soldiering On Award in the Animal Partnership category for helping members of the UK armed forces recover from mental and physical injuries through horsemanship and outdoor activities.

The Soldiering On Awards provide national recognition for the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country and individuals and groups who work together with the Armed Forces Community. The Awards’ aim is to encourage support for the UK’s Armed Forces Community by nationally recognising the achievements of groups, individuals and organisations that support this community.

The Animal Partnership category award sponsored by Pets at Home recognises the special companionship and support provided by animal friends to members of the Armed Forces Community as well as the achievements of individuals, groups or organisations that are involved in facilitating the access to such support.

Now in its eighth year, HorseBack UK provides a three-week residential programme that follows three goals: community, purpose and empowerment, helping members of the Armed Forces develop confidence and self-esteem through horsemanship and outdoor activities in the Scottish Highlands. The Charity has helped more than 650 veterans, 94% of whom reported life improvements  following courses with the charity, 17% have gone on to full or part time employment and 11% on to education.  As of recently, HorseBack launched a mentors programme, which trains former programme participants to become mentors for new HorseBack attendees.

“It is a great honour to receive the Award tonight and be recognised by the public who voted for us for the contribution we have made so far”, said Jock Hutchison, HorseBack UK co-founder and CEO, who received the award last night at the Park Plaza in London where the Awards were held. “We are dedicated to helping members of the Armed Forces Community re-discover hope and a sense of purpose after serious injuries and we recognise that our horses are an integral part of that process and the Animal Partnership award is all about their contribution.”

Head of Grants at Help for Heroes, Claire Barnes, said: “Help for Heroes have been major funders of HorseBack UK from the very beginning and have been staunch supporters of the work it does to change the lives of our wounded, injured and sick for the better. This award is thoroughly deserved and testament to the positive difference the charity makes to rebuild lives. Help for Heroes are incredibly proud to be a partner of Horseback UK.”

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