A six-metre tall war horse memorial has been unveiled in Ascot in Britain, close to the famous racecourse.
The £300,000 bronze statue, designed by sculptor Susan Leyland, depicts a horse – dubbed Poppy – with her head bowed in sorrow and a tangle of barbed wire at its feet. Placed on the Heatherwood roundabout, the 1.5 tonne statue that was cast in Scotland is 8’6″ tall and stands on a nine-foot Portland stone plinth.
The unveiling on Friday was the culmination of four years of hard work and planning, War Horse Memorial organisers say.
At the unveiling, Brownie Jess Edwards and Guides Nisha Watson, Katherine Warner and Annice Anderson were chosen to pull off Poppy’s giant purple mantle, flanked by Chelsea pensioners splendid in their scarlet coats, trumpeters from the Household Cavalry Band and flag bearers from the Royal Artillery and Life Guards.
Watching on were hundreds of well-wishers and families of old soldiers who fought in the Great War and who gave precious artefacts which have been buried at the feet of the national monument.
Afterwards, the Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley laid a wreath on behalf of The Queen, and others were placed at the base of the memorial by many organisations and individuals, including representatives from America, Australia, Canada, France and New Zealand and the Royal British Legion.
The final wreath – of purple poppies – was laid by co-Founders of the War Horse Memorial, Alan Carr and Susan Osborne, to signify the intention to use these flowers to raise monies for chosen equine and military charities. Poppy will stand for all time as a reminder of the service and sacrifice millions of horses, mules and donkeys made in the First World War to help secure the freedom and democracy enjoyed today.
Poppy was made possible with funding from both public and private donations. It is also a catalyst for an on-going fundraising campaign to support military and equine charities, through the sale of purple poppies leading up to an annual National Purple Poppy Day on August 23.
• The Elegy to The War Horse album by The Guards Chapel Orchestra has been released on Amazon and iTunes, and all profits will be used to support the War Horse Memorial ‘s principal charities, The Household Cavalry Foundation and Mane Chance Sanctuary.