War Horse Memorial officially unveiled

Published: Monday, 11th June 2018

War Horse Memorial

The nation’s first memorial dedicated solely to the millions of UK, Allied and Commonwealth horses, mules and donkeys that served and died during the First World War has been unveiled in Ascot.

The War Horse Memorial, named Poppy by the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows of the UK following a competition, sits atop the Heatherwood Hospital roundabout as a tribute to the role the animals played in the conflict.

The 2.6m high statue was designed by sculptor Susan Leyland and was officially unveiled on Friday 8 June by Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley and an invited group of Chelsea Pensioners in front of an audience of dignitaries and supporters of the project.

Beneath Poppy a time capsule was also buried containing artefacts reflecting the wider story of the war effort and how animals were used under often gruelling conditions.

Cllr Samantha Rayner, cabinet member for culture and communities, said: “It is an honour for the borough to have the nation’s first memorial solely dedicated to the sacrifice of horses, mules and donkeys during the First World War. This memorial represents the strong bond between humans and horses who fought alongside each other in the Great War.

“Horses and the military both still play huge roles in our borough today and it’s vital we never forget the sacrifices made by those before us, especially the often unmentioned role played by animals.

“I would like to thank all those who helped to make this project a reality and hope residents and visitors to Ascot will take a moment to reflect on the important story behind this memorial.”

Among the guests to join the unveiling ceremony were the Mayor of the Royal Borough Cllr Paul Lion and representatives from the Royal British Legion.

An area of reflection including seats and interpretation panels opposite the memorial gives passers-by the opportunity to learn more.

Following the unveiling Cllr Lion was presented with a bronze maquette of the final sculpture to be put on public display for residents and visitors in a council building.

The project was undertaken in partnership by the War Horse Memorial CIC, Ascot Racecourse, the Royal Borough and supported by the Daily Express.

For more information about the project and creation of the sculpture see here.

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