£30k donation for Liverpool riding school in memory of a much-loved colleague

Continuing its commitment to give back to both its residents and its communities, one of the leading providers in the UK build-to-rent market, Simple Life by Sigma Capital Group Limited, has donated £30,000 to local Merseyside riding club, Park Palace Ponies.  

The volunteer-led equestrian programme, which teaches inner-city children from deprived neighbourhoods horse riding basics, has been crowdfunding since failing to receive public funding, as hoped. This is the fifth year the company has sponsored Park Palace Ponies, with this donation being its largest yet.  

The donation illustrates the company’s vision and values and its ever-growing strategy to create a positive impact to people’s lives within the regions it develops in and the wider local communities. This was also the vision of its much-loved, and industry respected, colleague Ron Dawson, who sadly passed away in 2020, and after whom the new stables will be named.  

Ron, who was a highly valued member of the Sigma family, had a reputation in the Merseyside region for his deep-rooted concern for the future of the city and his core values for helping communities and those affected by economic hardship. Ron was previously head of economic development for Liverpool City Council and championed local communities throughout his career. Sigma has kept Ron’s spirit ever-present in its continued ESG plan and charitable donations, and its annual contribution to local schools is also known as the ‘Ron Dawson Donation’.  

Following this donation to Park Palace Ponies, the charity has been able to open a much larger riding school at Walkers’ Woods, in Aigburth which will be named Ron’s Simple Life Stables. The stables will accommodate up to 120 riders, a third of whom live in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and half live in the 30% most deprived neighbourhoods. 

Simple Life’s ESG director, Niamh Waldron, said, “We are dedicated to helping, funding, and supporting organisations in the wider community. This is the most important part of our ethos, and it’s great to be able to help so many young people and their families through donations like this, to Park Palace Ponies.  

“The benefits and positive impact are clear; life skills including self-confidence, engagement, compassion, empathy, and the chance to take on responsibility, nurture nature, and simply have fun, are outcomes we cannot and should never try to measure numerically. Building our relationship with the charity is a natural progression of this, and continuing Ron’s legacy in the naming of the new stables Ron’s Simple Life Stables is part of this friendship. We look forward to future visits and hearing news from the many young people who get to enjoy this simply fabulous facility.  

Opened in 2017, as part of a six-month pilot scheme to measure the demand for the inner-city riding school, Park Palace Ponies has since put 3,000 children through a basic riding course. Due to high demand from the community, the programme sought to secure council funding to expand its offering and deliver more facilities but was ultimately rejected and so, turned to crowdfund.  

Bridget Griffin, Chair of Park Palace Ponies in Toxteth, said, “Following the pandemic, many riding schools were closed making it near impossible to find riding lessons across the region. We have seen first-hand how our school helps so many young people, and we desperately wanted it to continue. 

“Simple Life’s incredible donation has meant we are able to move forward with our plans to open up Ron’s Simple Life Stables and provide more inner-city children than ever with key riding skills.” 

Sigma has sponsored Park Palace Ponies since 2018. Over the past five years, funding has focused mainly on sponsoring the pony, Moses, through Sigma’s relationship with its first school, Monksdown Primary School in Norris Green, where Sigma’s annual donations covered the cost of riding lessons for one full school year. Through its regular donations, Sigma has helped to accelerate the work of the Park Palace Ponies programme to reach children of all ages through many schools in Merseyside.  

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