Bolton Gate Saddlery stables back in business after fire
OWNERS of arson-hit stables say they are 'fighting back' after overhauling the site and opening a new farm shop.
And staff at the family-run Bolton Gate Saddlery, in Weston Coyney, say they remain 'angry and hurt' over the incident which saw a barn destroyed and the lives of horses put at risk.
Yesterday the shop – which sells locally-grown products – opened its doors for the first time.
Jo Hurst, who runs the Leek Road-based business with daughter Alex, said: "It has always been an interest of mine and we decided to set up the business after the fire.
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"We have always kept chickens here and I grow things in the garden.
"We have products from local farms and will be stocking them in the shop."
The fledgling shop – which will open seven days a week – is adjacent to the existing equestrian store.
And the fire damaged barn has also been repaired and restocked. The building is used as a viewing area for the stables.
Grandmother-of-three Mrs Hurst, who ran a farm in Dilhorne before opening up the stables, says she remains sickened by last year's arson attack.
The barn was set on fire on November 6. Just minutes later, the visitor centre at the nearby Park Hall Country Park also went up in flames.
Following a police investigation, a 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson, but he was later released and the investigation was halted due to a lack of evidence. "The whole situation has left us feeling angry and hurt," added Mrs Hurst.
Alex, aged 35, added: "I feel like we are fighting back after what has happened. We are shocked someone would target a place like this.
"The barn where the fire happened was close to where we were keeping some horses and if we hadn't spotted it, they would have been killed."
The business currently looks after 20 horses and employs seven members of staff.
It is also a popular venue for schools, as well as horse owners.
Horse rider Dawn Knapper, a retired clerk of Fulford said: "It's a good place to come as the people and horses are really good."
The 55-year-old, who has been visiting the stables for two years, added: "I was upset that someone would target this place."