My name is Bertie Herrtage, I’m a coach here at Crowdfunder UK and I’m on an adventure. Since August I have been travelling across the UK, from Cornwall to Scotland, meeting with and interviewing 10 of my favourite projects. These 10 wonderful stories will form the basis of a publication which I myself am putting together, with the aim of shining a light on all of the good things that are happening and the incredible people behind them.

In 2017, Sirona raised £10,505 from 135 supporters on

Film by Frederick Shelbourne

Sirona is an independent charity based in Devon who use equine assisted therapy to help young people with learning or behavioural difficulties to build trust, to feel calm and understand more about themselves.

Sirona were based on a small plot in Newton Abbot, Devon. The stables where they worked were due to be developed and through their own expansion, more space was needed. The Dartington Hall Estate, a well known champion of social enterprises and charities in the area, had such a space that would suit Sirona well. Hannah the CEO and Founder of Sirona, explored the avenues of grant funding available and was successful in an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Like in many such opportunities today, the HLF grant was dependent on Sirona being able to match it through funds raised themselves.

This is where the crowdfunding came in. Sirona needed to raise £10,000 to confirm their site at Dartington and they found 135 supporters who were willing to help.

Sirona - Crowdfunder StoriesPhotography by Jasper Fry Photography

Their approach to mental health really resonated with me. Even when visiting, horses are such intriguing animals and you can’t help but to want to win their attention. Time spent with horses can help you to understand them and how you might adjust your own behaviour to suit and appeal to them. In this way, a young person can see for themselves what impact their behaviour has on others and how a calm and more gentle approach will help them to build positive relationships.

Sirona - Crowdfunder Stories

Horses are intelligent animals who just like dogs (unlike cats) don’t judge you. They don’t see any imagined stigma or disabilities, they see you for how you behave towards them. Furthermore, horses can be intimidating, so working with them can help to build confidence, even if you’re not ready for a big horse like Chapas in our video, there is always one of the little ones to befriend first.

Sirona - Crowdfunder Stories
Photography by Jasper Fry Photography

This hands on and practical approach is how we reconnect the youth with the outside world, no time for selfies or being on your phone, because if you’re mucking out or mucking in then things are going to get dirty! Leave the social media behind and learn how to look after the horses, tend to their needs and build positive relationships. The stables here can be a sanctuary away from the outside world and a welcome distraction away from yourself.

Sirona is a recommended form of therapy for many children who have suffered from poor treatment at home in the past or who come from foster homes. Many of these horses are themselves, rescue horses and who may bare the mental and physical scars of their former life. Learning about their past makes them relatable and the careful nurturing required allows the young people to understand the need to look after themselves as well.

Sirona - Crowdfunder Stories
Photography by Jasper Fry Photography



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