Brantome Police Horses
Brantome Police Horses came about because of my lovely Mum, Sylvia Phillips. She unwittingly in 1976 started a small sanctuary in England called The Devon Horse & Pony Sanctuary (DHAPS). This little sanctuary went on to become a registered charity in 1981. It has to be said that she was slightly barmy, but in a good way. In her time she rescued hundreds of horses and ponies and was very proud to be asked to join the board of the National Equine Welfare Council. She definitely deserved a medal for all the equines she rescued.
In 1993 through myself, Roland, I was a Detective for the Metropolitan Police Force at the time and had very little to do with horses. However, I had a very good friend who was a Mounted Police Officer. He asked if my mother would provide a forever retirement home for his Police horse who had come to the end of its working life, the poor animal who had given so many years to protecting Londoners had nowhere else to go and faced an uncertain future. My mother agreed and after an inspection to make sure the Devon Horse & Pony Sanctuary were suitable she became the proud custodian of not one but two retired Police Horses, Karen & Kendrick, and that as they say was just the beginning of her relationship with the Metropolitan Police Force and subsequently The Avon and Somerset Force.
In 2006 it became quite clear that Mum was not going to be able to carry on for much longer due to ill health and her age. My wife Alison and I were able to retire from our old jobs, but could not afford a farm or land in the UK of the magnitude needed, so we looked further afield. After a long search we decided that the sunny and beautiful area of South West France where property with grazing land was cheaper and the horses could benefit from the wonderful climate was the place to be. Unfortunately, Mum never lived long enough to see her beloved horses make the move, but we know she would be very content that they are happy and have so many visitors who loved them as much as we do.
But sometimes life moves on and the path you thought was mapped out changes route. 2020 was a very difficult year for everyone but for us it has been devastating. Covid 19 obviously meant we have been closed to visitors since December 2019 and subsequently we have not had any income. A close family relative living with us in France was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which meant that this year even though we could open we have had to choose to remain closed to keep her safe from the virus. Alison my wife had a trip down the stairs and broke her arm and two fractures in her back, so standing and cooking all day for visitors is very difficult and then there was Brexit! We will no longer be able to bring Police horses to France and as this is our main cause, we feel that with all factors involved we should relocate the Police horses back to our sanctuary in Devon where they can continue their work as therapy horses. Our son-in-law Chris, will go with them and will be with them on a daily basis running the sanctuary. This move was a very hard decision to make but one we now know is the best one. There will continue to be a few horses and ponies left at La Grange which Alison and I shall still continue to look after.
We would like to thank all our volunteers and the thousands of visitors that continued to visit, some for many years running and if you are ever in the area of Dartmoor in Devon, please contact us, we would love to show you around and for you to meet up with your favourites, Lewis, Johnny, Ranger, Gallipoli, Kingston and Guardian along with the two miniature donkeys, Harriet and Edward.