McIntyre Family Legacy Continues as Racing Hearts Takes Over Brisbane Riding Centre

After a period of uncertainty, the McIntyre Centre Riding for the Disabled in Pinjarra Hills will be reopening, under its new trustee, Racing Hearts Therapy, a registered charity specialising in equine therapy.

Read: Community Mobilises to Help Revive Beloved McIntyre Centre in Pinjarra Hills

The McIntyre Centre, founded in 1973 in Kenmore by local couple Peter and June McIntyre, was forced to shut its doors in May 2022 due to rising costs and funding gaps. The closure was a major blow for the community that relied on the centre’s therapeutic horse riding programs.

However, there is now renewed hope as HELP Enterprises has announced that Racing Hearts Therapy Incorporated, a registered charity specialising in equine therapy, will take over operations and reopen the centre in Pinjarra Hills.

“Peter and June McIntrye established the first ever riding school for people with disabilities in Australia and we are incredibly proud to be gifted the opportunity to continue their legacy and make their beautiful centre thrive,” Racing Hearts announced.

Photo credit: Racing Hearts/Facebook

Racing Hearts, which currently runs programs in Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, is committed to continuing the McIntyre name and legacy built over the past 60 years. Their offerings include individual therapy sessions, autism programs, school holiday camps and women’s empowerment groups – all utilising the healing power of horses.

“This is a terrific outcome for the community, and we are extremely pleased that vital services for people with disability will resume with Racing Hearts,” said HELP CEO Denver Fresser.

“Racing Hearts are best positioned to run the McIntyre Centre. They are a highly regarded organisation with strong financial backing,” he added.

HELP operated the McIntyre Centre from 2017 until its services ceased in July 2023, when the financial gap between its operating costs and fees-for-service from the NDIS made it not viable to continue.

Photo credit: Racing Hearts/Facebook

Lisa Coffey, founder of Racing Hearts, expressed excitement about carrying on the McIntyre family’s vision. 

“Racing Hearts is delighted to be carrying on the legacy of the McIntyre family and we can’t wait to connect with everyone in the community who is passionate about the centre so we can all work together to make it a huge success,” she stated. “Our mission is to ensure a safe and nurturing space for both humans and horses.”

The Pinjarra Hills reopening will undoubtedly be celebrated by the thousands of lives transformed by the McIntyre Center’s programs over the decades. A cherished community asset has been saved.

Racing Hearts met or exceeded the requirements for all selection criteria as the new trustee of the centre. They have made a commitment to resume services within the next six months. Updates will be provided to the community at large.

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Published 4-April-2024

Community Mobilises to Help Revive Beloved McIntyre Centre in Pinjarra Hills

When Help Enterprises, the organisation responsible for managing the McIntyre Centre, announced the Pinjarra Hills centre’s unexpected closure due to operational difficulties, the local community was eager to see the organisation resurrected. A group of community members are now in the process of seeing what, if anything, can be done.

For nearly six decades, Help Enterprises has provided vital assisted therapy and support to disabled individuals, earning deep respect and admiration from the local community.

The McIntyre Centre had its humble beginnings at the home of Peter and June McIntyre in 1964, with the noble goal of aiding disabled individuals through horse-riding therapy. The program’s immense success soon necessitated a move to a 16-hectare site. For 53 years, it thrived, continuing its vital work until it was gifted to Help Enterprises in 2017.

Help Enterprises invested approximately $4 million in the school’s infrastructure and improvements after it took over operation six years ago. At its peak, the Centre was said to have had a stable of nearly 40 horses, with around 16 programs weekly.

Despite these efforts, the organisation revealed that it was costing them around $700,000 per month to keep the school running, with funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme falling short.

The situation has been further exacerbated by a dramatic decline in the number of annual rides provided, plummeting from 7,500 when Help Enterprises took over to a mere 2,800.

Help Enterprises has contacted the previous owners of the horses, some of whom have expressed interest to take them back. Two of the older ones are being rehomed with former McIntyre staff members.

Help Enterprises has also initiated the process of selling the other horses, raising concerns about the future of the centre’s assets.

A committed group of community members formed a steering committee to strategise the revival of the McIntyre Centre. They are working on a proposal to present to Help Enterprises, despite the organisation’s reluctance to comment or respond.

Mr. John Williams, the President of the Lions Club of Brisbane West, conveyed the community’s desire to see the McIntyre Centre restored as a community asset.

He underscored its significance to the disabled community and various other local groups, highlighting the urgency of its revival and likening its absence to a deeply felt loss.

Whilst Help Enterprises has not been forthcoming with details about the Deed of Gift, Queensland University Law Professor Ross Grantham sees potential solutions. If the Deed of Gift permits amendments, court involvement might not be necessary. Alternatively, transferring ownership of the organisation to another charitable entity could be a better alternative.

Published 14-October-2023

Riding into the Sunset: Why McIntyre Centre Had to Close

Eagle Farm-based charity HELP Enterprises has issued a response to criticisms stemming from the closure of the beloved McIntyre Centre Riding for the Disabled in Pinjarra Hills.

Some residents could not help but express disappointment over their decision to shut the facility. HELP Enterprises, hence, stated to clarify its position and reasoning behind the move.

HELP Enterprises revealed that six different groups had expressed interest in taking over the operation of the McIntyre Centre. Since none of the not-for-profit organisations and allied health providers met the requirement stated under charitable trust, they decided to pause the process.

Taking into account various factors, the charity clarified its decision to shut down the disabled riding centre. These factors include changes in the funding landscape due to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rules as well as the transition from a volunteer-led operation to a centre requiring qualified, paid staff.

According to the statement, the Deed of Gift that transferred the centre to HELP Enterprises in 2017 necessitated substantial investments, and since then, the organisation has spent around $4 million on infrastructure and maintenance.

They also clarified that the organisation’s commitment to its charitable trust obligations prevented any alterations without court approval.

However, the transition to a blended model of staff and volunteers in accordance with NDIS guidelines, along with other funding changes, led to a drastic drop in the number of rides provided annually – from 7,500 to 2,800.

HELP Enterprises emphasised that the decision to cease services was not taken lightly, and they share the concern for the participants and horses. Furthermore, they were planning on finding appropriate homes for the horses. It was clear to them that they were not planning on selling them at auction.

Whilst acknowledging the difficulty of the decision, HELP Enterprises assured that it is committed to finding the best possible outcome for the McIntyre Centre’s future.

They expressed the belief that it could take up to six months to identify a new operator, and in the interim, the sale of assets including horses would fund essential maintenance of the property.

Published 17-August-2023