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Horse sanctuary workers mark 50 years and hundreds of equines rescued

PUBLISHED: 12:35 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:58 19 November 2019

Redwings Horse Sanctuary horsebox drivers Alan and Clair helping donkeys rescued from Spindle Farm in 2008. Picture: Redwings

Redwings Horse Sanctuary horsebox drivers Alan and Clair helping donkeys rescued from Spindle Farm in 2008. Picture: Redwings

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Two workers at a Norfolk horse sanctuary are marking more than 50 years of helping rescue hundreds of horses and donkeys suffering neglect and abuse.

Clair Turner is marking 30 years working at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk. Picture: RedwingsClair Turner is marking 30 years working at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk. Picture: Redwings

Horsebox drivers Clair Turner and Alan Grant have clocked-up 30 years and 21 years respectively of working at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Clair began working as a volunteer at Redwings while she was still at school and then took up her first official role in 1989, helping to provide the daily care needs of the sanctuary's resident horses.

Alan joined in 1998 with the intention of staying for just a month, but said the experience of helping animals proved to be "addictive".

Pinocchio was among the equines rescued from Spindle Farm in Amersham. Pictured shortly after his rescue and then playing football just weeks later. Picture: RedwingsPinocchio was among the equines rescued from Spindle Farm in Amersham. Pictured shortly after his rescue and then playing football just weeks later. Picture: Redwings

They began working together full-time as horse box drivers shortly afterwards, and over the decades have played an instrumental role in transporting countless neglected, abandoned or abused equines to the charity's Norfolk hospital.

Rescues that stick out in their mind include their first large-scale rescue outside of East Anglia which involved a very long day rounding-up over 40 semi-feral Shetland ponies in Devon in 2002 that were suffering from lice, worms and overgrown feet.

Alan, from Tasburgh, said: "None of us had done anything on that scale before. There were dozens of ponies across the fields and a steep hill. Every time we went near them they were off!"

Round-up and rescue of 19 Shire horses discovered on a site near Kidderminster and taken to Redwings in Norfolk. Picture: RedwingsRound-up and rescue of 19 Shire horses discovered on a site near Kidderminster and taken to Redwings in Norfolk. Picture: Redwings

Clair added: "We just kept going. A lot of people had given up on them but we managed to catch them all in the end. With our job you finish when you finish - that's what you have to do when animals are involved."

Another rescue at Spindle Farm at Amersham in Buckinghamshire in 2008 hit the national headlines when over 100 horses, ponies and donkeys were saved from appalling neglect.

Clair and Alan helped bring 21 equines in need of immediate veterinary attention to Norfolk and transported the remainder to other charities around the UK.

Clair said: "We've been to so many rescues it's hard to remember them all, but I'll never forget carrying Pinocchio (a miniature Shetland pony) onto the trailer that day. He was so little and all the life had gone out of him. I really didn't think he was going to make it. A few weeks later we gave him a football in his paddock and he could have played for England!"

- Discover more about Redwings Horse Sanctuary

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