When Tourist Hotel operators Geoff Hunt and Heidi Blackhall heard the annual Sandy Hollow Charity Horse Ride was in jeopardy, they knew they had to help
For the past 18 years, the 35km Sandy Hollow Charity Horse Ride has been raising money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
Every April hundreds of riders and their horses descend upon the rural town of Sandy Hollow, ready to help raise money for the cause - but this year there was a problem.
The large parcel of land used by event organisers for camping, agistment, preparation and starting the ride was sold off to private buyers making it no longer available.
Enter Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel operators Geoff Hunt and Heidi Blackhall.
"If we had not allowed the riders and organisers to use land on the hotel property, they actually would not have been able to hold the charity ride this year," Heidi said.
"We have always been supportive of the event, and for the past two years the post-ride charity auction and entertainment has been held here at the pub, but the camping, horse agistment, and starting line was always organised using other grounds.
"Private buyers meant that space was no longer available and so the event was in jeopardy of not being held. We couldn't let that happen."
"Private buyers meant that space was no longer available and so the event was in jeopardy of not being held. We couldn't let that happen..."
The annual Sandy Hollow Charity Horse Ride raises around $30,000 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, a service that plays an important role in rural communities like Sandy Hollow.
"There's a lot of horse studs out here, a lot of miners, a lot of farmers and you don't realise how important the Westpac Rescue Helicopter is until you need it," Heidi said.
"I have actually needed the service twice myself, once when my father came off a horse and also when my son was in a car accident. They were both lucky and made a full recovery thanks to the helicopter service."
According to Geoff and Heidi, the event is ideal for families and riders of all ages, with participants as young as four - and as mature as 80, taking part.
The ride will take place on Saturday, 21 April. Registrations are on Friday, 20 April at the Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel and camping is available onsite for $10 per truck.
Cost of the ride is $20 per rider or $60 for a family, but you must bring your own horse. Spectators are welcome for a gold-coin donation.
Post-event entertainment will be held on Saturday afternoon with live music, barbecue, jumping castle and charity auctions from 4pm at the Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel.
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