WITH a “stretch in the evenings” already noticable, one event to pencil in the diary is the ILDRA Pleasure Ride through the Tollymore Forest Park on Sunday, February 12th.

Routes from eight to 16 miles, through this 600-plus hectares park at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, are on offer and ILDRA members and non-members are welcome.

The event is also a fundraiser for Charlotte Moore who will be swapping her usual Irish Draught for a Mongolian horse when she takes part in the Gobi Gallop in early June.

At 700 kilometres, the Gobi Gallop is believed to be the longest annual charity horse ride in the world. Charlotte, well-known in Irish Draught and long distance circles, hopes to complete the challenge in 10 days to raise funds for the Veloo Foundation.

As Charlotte is covering the Gobi Gallop costs herself, any donations made go directly to this registered charity. Its Children of the Peak Sanctuary kindergartens provide care, food and education for families who currently subsist by scavenging on rubbish dumps in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia.

The Veloo Foundation, which relies heavily on the Gobi Gallop fundraiser, also organises after-school programmes, summer camps and food programmes. A community library was built and the next development is a sewing centre to produce eco-friendly garments.

“I am delighted to receive the support of the ILDRA Ulster Branch who are making a substantial financial contribution to the work of the Veloo Foundation and for the very practical guidance willingly shared by experienced long distance riders,” said Charlotte, who is also planning an upcoming table quiz fundraiser.

“I welcome the contributions made by the riders who come along to Tollymore to support the pleasure ride. Thanks are also extended to all those who help to make it all happen.”

Tollymore entries must be pre-booked through the online system at www.enduranceridingireland.com by Wednesday, 8th February. Ride fees are kept at normal ILDRA rates but any donations can be made on the day or by any well-wishers directly to Charlotte’s fundraising page www.veloofoundation.com/charlottes-gg-fundraising-page.html