Donkey sanctuary land dispute prompts regulator to resurrect inactive charity

A charity that had been removed from the register eight years ago after becoming inactive has been revived by the regulator.

The National Equine Training Trust was removed from the charities register in 2013 after it was found to be inactive, had failed to file annual returns and did not respond to calls from the Charity Commission.

But after discovering the charity was at risk of losing land it still owned, the Commission took action to resurrect it to ensure the land is still used for charitable purposes.

Two new trustees have been appointed by the regulator to run the charity, which provides education and training on the care and welfare of horses and donkeys.

The remaining inactive trustees have been removed and an inquiry into mismanagement by the charity has concluded.

The move to revive the Kent based charity follows the regulator being alerted to the Trust’s ownership of a piece of land in Sevenoaks, Kent, which is registered with HM Land
as the Gwendoline Walker Donkey Centre.

A neighbour of the property, who claimed to have been using the land for several years filed a claim to take ownership of the property, a move the charity’s trustees had not responded to.

To ensure the land remained in the charity’s possession, the Commission intervened, and the possession claim was struck out.

“Following its intervention to ensure the administration of the charity is properly taken forward, the Commission re-instated the charity onto the register on 15 March 2021,” said the regulator in an announcement this week.

The Charity Commission’s head of investigations Amy Spiller said: “This case serves as a reminder that good governance is not a bureaucratic detail – it underpins the delivery of a charity’s purposes to the high standards expected by the public – and without it, in this case, land and assets belonging the charity were almost lost.

“Trustees must properly manage their charity’s assets and ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect them.

“Our intervention has been crucial in enabling The National Equine Training Trust to get up and running again.

“We took action to protect the charity’s land and assets so it could again deliver on its charitable purposes. I hope, with new trustees in place, this charity will be able to again provide support to equine animals and inspire the trust of the communities it was set up to help.”

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