Eight-year-old Grace Shudall has just returned from a dream trip to the Queen's stables at Buckingham Palace - all because of her passion for horses.

The Wirral schoolgirl is a skilled rider and has ambitions to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games.

Such is her attachment to her horse Morgan that she is often found in his stable reading him stories or singing to him.

She often writes to the Queen about her riding progress and recently received a reply which included an invitation to visit the palace and get acquainted with the stables, menage and the royal horses.

In Her Majesty's reply she said she was glad to learn how much Grace also liked horses and could understand how proud Grace would be to have won a 'first' at a horse show.

She also confided in Grace about her own riding - she had learned to ride at the age of four on a pony called Peggy and later had more lessons at Buckingham Palace with her sister Princess Margaret.

The Queen disclosed that she looked after her own ponies and learned how to harness and drive them.

Even today, she said, she still enjoyed riding when she was at Windsor, Sandringham or Balmoral.

Now Grace's ambitions have been given a further boost following Wirral planning committee's decision to allow her parents to build a floodlit menage on Green Belt land at Frankby.

Grace's mum Natasha said: "Our daughter has a passion for horses and is becoming a very accomplished rider.

"She practices daily on our field, but with the winter weather coming in this will become unsafe as the grass will become too slippery for her to ride.

"We asked for planning permission so that Grace can have a safe area to ride and practice her training rather than being unable to ride throughout the winter months.

"As parents all we are trying to do - with the help of her trainer Jackie Dixon - is to support Grace in her dream of being an Olympic rider and making sure she is safe while she trains."

The application submitted to Wirral planning authority was an amended version of an earlier and bigger proposal, which was refused.

Many of the local objections to the scheme were against the scale of the venture, which includes a barn standing almost five metres high.

Objectors claimed the scale of the proposal remained "excessive" and that the development would have a detrimental impact on the openness of the Green Belt.

Planners, who supported the scheme, concluded that the siting and scale of the agricultural barn and the menage would not have an unacceptable impact on the landscape; and the development would not be unduly prominent, nor would it appear intrusive.