A kind-hearted man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year recently donated a day of horse riding and activities to young carers in Worcestershire, to ‘give something back’.

David Harper, a 68 year old from Dudley, set up Caring Hooves last year – an equine organisation in Gloucestershire specifically for the benefit of young carers and people with cancer.

After supporting young carers in Sandwell last year, David decided to offer a day of horse riding and activities, which included grooming, riding and playing in the adventure park, to young carers in Worcestershire who are supported by YSS, an independent charity supporting some of the most marginalised people in society across West Mercia.

He said: “I love being around horses. I started riding horses over 30 years ago with my daughter who was three at the time. I used to show jump at a high level for many years, whilst my daughter was a member of the British Junior Dressage Squad.

“We set up Caring Hooves in 2017 to give young carers a break, and are delighted to be able to support Worcestershire Young Carers. Throughout my career working with horses I have seen the benefit they bring to people from all walks of life. Learning to ride and care for horses can be a great confidence boost as well as being lots of fun.”

Thanks to David’s generosity, ten young carers enjoyed grooming and riding horses at The Playmate Children’s Riding School in Cheltenham on Thursday 12 April, and were accompanied by YSS keyworkers Vicky Parker and David King.

Neil Phillips, Worcestershire Young Carers Senior Coordinator, said: “Looking after a loved one is a big responsibility for those so young and can sometimes lead to young carers becoming withdrawn. It’s not always about what a young carer has to do – it’s what they miss out on too, so we’re really grateful to David and Caring Hooves for arranging such a special outing completely free of charge, and we’re really excited to continue working together in the future.”

For David, being able to support young carers has special importance. He said: “In 2012 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After years of radiotherapy I was told in March 2017 that I had advanced metastatic cancer and would need palliative care at Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge.

“Whilst the initial diagnosis was hard to deal with, I now have my pain under control and my mind in a very good place, thanks to support from a large and fantastic support team. This is a very enjoyable time in my life, and whilst I am able I wanted to give something back and support these fantastic young people who do so much.”

Young carers often provide more than 50 hours of care every week to a parent, grandparent or sibling due to mental ill health, disability or drug or alcohol misuse.

David added: “I love to see the joy horses bring to young carers and want to continue with this for as long as I can.”

As well as supporting young carers through Caring Hooves, David also volunteers as a cancer advocate and, with support and funding from Macmillan, runs a cancer support group called Let’s Live. He said: “I truly believe that dealing with cancer is in the mind. We can’t change the hand we’ve been dealt but we can choose our response.”

A young carer who attended the activity said: “I had such an amazing time. It was great to be around the horses and to experience something new as I’ve never been horse riding before. We all had a lot of fun and I’d love to go back.”

Worcestershire Young Carers provides assessment, signposting and one to one support as well as activities and clubs to more than 400 young carers every year, aged between seven and 25. To find out more please click here or call 01905 619 886.