Valiant Norfolk police horse immortalised in crime thriller
PUBLISHED: 20:13 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 20:13 06 January 2020
A noble steed recognised for his courage as a police horse has been given a starring role in a gripping new page-turner.
Wilson, a 26-year-old Irish Draught, spent 14 years on the frontline with the mounted section of West Yorkshire Police, before returning home to Dereham for a well-earned retirement in 2014.
In his crime fighting days, Wilson patrolled at EDL rallies, Leeds United matches and the Bradford Riots of 2001, where he was tragically stabbed in the line of duty.
He made a full recovery and later became the first West Yorkshire Police horse to receive commendation for his bravery.
Following an action-packed career, Wilson now finds himself at the centre of Payback, a new crime novel written by RC Bridgestock - the pen name of experienced police duo Carol and Bob Bridgestock.
His owner and namesake, Kristine Wilson, said: "At the beginning of last year, the writers called me and asked to include Wilson in their book because they are friends with officers who used to ride him.
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"It's great that Willy has been immortalised and woven into the story, especially as he is the only horse in West Yorkshire with a Blue Cross Medal.
"It's also really nice because he's the only character in the book who is actually real - apart from me, which I didn't realise until I read it."
Between them, Mr and Mrs Bridgestock spent almost 50 years in West Yorkshire Police and, post-retirement, created the character DI Jack Dylan.
They penned nine books in the Jack Dylan series, while also working as storyline consultants on police television dramas including Happy Valley.
Payback, their latest novel, is the start of a brand new series following DI Charley Mann as she returns to her home county of Yorkshire.
Wilson, who was "in a sorry state" when Ms Wilson bought him for £800 with Cheltenham winnings in the late 1990s, is still going strong and regularly attends major events with Norfolk Rural Crime Unit.
"He's a gentle giant, a very kind horse," added Ms Wilson. "Before Armistice Day last year he hadn't been out in four months and didn't bat an eyelid.
"It's quite remarkable to see him going out at nearly 27. People see him at events and always want to know his story."