War Horse Memorial project in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

PUBLISHED: 14:39 29 January 2018

Alan Carr and Co-Founder Susan Osborne with one of the maquettes © Maureen McLean Photography

Alan Carr and Co-Founder Susan Osborne with one of the maquettes © Maureen McLean Photography

© Maureen McLean Photography

Maureen McLean meets Alan Carr MBE and Co-Founder Susan Osborne MSc FRSA to discover more about the War Horse Memorial project

Over a million UK, Commonwealth and Allied horses, mules and donkeys were set to work during the Great War between 1914 and 1918, but tragically only

62,000 returned. Now their legacy is to be permanently remembered in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead.

A magnificent six metres-high War Horse Memorial bronze statue designed by sculptor Susan Leyland will be placed on the roundabout adjacent to Ascot Racecourse and Heatherwood Hospital. It will have a time capsule buried underneath containing artifacts from the war donated by members of the public, including readers of the Daily Express who have supported the campaign.

On the opposite corner to the roundabout is Ascot Racecourse’s coveted Car Park Number One where there will be an ‘Area of Reflection’ with landscaping and seating where residents and visitors can sit to pause and view the War Horse Memorial. There will also be an inscribed Portland stone remembrance monolith and computer technology encompassing an interactive QR Code Reader telling the story of the War Horse, so there will also be an educational aspect to it.

Now the funds for the War Horse Memorial have been raised, the directors can concentrate on their fundraising aspirations to support their chosen charities. The principal beneficiaries of the War Horse Memorial will be the Household Cavalry Foundation and Mane Chance Sanctuary. Other local charities including Windsor’s Blue Acre Horse Rescue, the Windsor and Ascot Driving Group and Team Sophie will also benefit.

Alan Carr has lived in the area for 40 years, is married to Margaret and has two daughters. Alan had an estate agency in Ascot for 20 years and for the past 17 years has helped numerous charities by arranging fundraising events for them. Both Alan and Susan Obsorne’s families have been touched by cancer and they both share a passion for helping charities that has included work around the world in the Arctic, Africa, Brazil and Patagonia.

Susan is the Director of Communications of the War Horse Memorial and has worked for the BBC, the Government, the NHS, a number of charities and for 12 years was Executive Director of Cancer Research UK and was instrumental in the merger of the UK’s largest cancer charities.

The War Horse Memorial Ambassadors are Sophie Christiansen CBE, Adam Afriyie MP, and from the Allied and Commonwealth, Nigel Allsopp (Australia), David Clendining (Canada), Rick Wagner (USA) and Yves Potard (France).

Alan worked for Ascot Lawyers, doing their PR and assisted with their Foundation ¬– one of the ideas was for Ascot Lawyers to take advertising signage on the Heatherwood roundabout. Not long after he saw a television clip about the War Horse film and some research revealed that although there were many photos of war horses, there wasn’t a vast amount of information about their plight. The idea came to him that a war horse memorial could be placed on the very same roundabout in Ascot.

Alan says: “Ascot is synonymous worldwide with horses and ‘Warrior’, the most revered and decorated horse of the Great War, was a racehorse. It therefore seemed a fitting and respectful location to commemorate our noble and valiant equine friends, especially being so close to The Queen’s home in Windsor Castle and the Household Cavalry regiment at Combermere.’’

He continues: “My grandfather, Sidney Carr, started in the ‘Waggoner Reserve’, and then the Royal Field Artillery to join the Great War. He was a wheel driver with six horses pulling 18lb field guns. He saw action in Mons, Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Paschendale, but like many of that special generation he rarely spoke of his experiences.”

Although Sidney survived the war it clearly had a lasting impact upon him and his family. In fact Alan’s father also served in the Royal Horse Artillery from 1945-1952. Alan showed me a photograph of Sidney. It’s easy to see why this project is so close to his heart.

Alan was in Alan Kluckow’s gallery in Sunningdale when he first saw a beautiful horse sculpture by Susan Leyland. At the time he was involved in a charity for Sophie Christiansen CBE, helping her to raise enough money to buy a horse to compete at the London Olympics (she went on to become Britain’s first triple gold Paralympian and took three more golds in Rio in 2016.

Susan Leyland kindly donated sculptures that were auctioned to help raise some of the money needed. Alan says: “Susan’s kind and philanthropic nature, her majestic art form and lifelong passion for horses made her the obvious choice from many sculptors considered and she was commissioned to design the Bronze War Horse.

“Susan’s origination took three years in the making and included extensive research, over 150 drawings with amazing anatomical detail and five clay studies to create our magnificent horse which represents so poignantly all those horses that unknowingly gave their lives for the very democracy we all enjoy today.”

Susan Leyland’s grandfather served in the Veterinary Corps in Egypt during the First World War. She explains: “My mission was to reflect in one sculpture the silhouettes of many breeds, and to capture such indescribable suffering. The head of the War Horse is lowered in respect as a horse for all horses – ‘the unknown warrior’. A symbolic tear drop will be seen on the sculpture.”

Alan recalls: “Susan’s attention to detail is immense and she researched hundreds of photographs of war horses before finalising her design. Our war horse is based on that of a mare who has returned from war to her own tranquil island sanctuary, released of her shackles but bearing the mud, scars and memories of the battlefields. The war horses had a number etched into their hooves so that they could be identified. The War Horse Memorial will have the number 1418 onits hoof to signify the years 1914-1918 of the Great War.”

Poignant piece of history

100 bronze maquettes of the War Horse Memorial will be made at Farquhar Ogilvy-Laing’s Black Isle Bronze Foundry near Inverness. The famous Frankie Dettori flying dismount sculpture at Ascot Racecourse was made at the same foundry. Desert Orchid sculptor Philip Blacker recommended the foundry to Alan.

The maquettes will definitely become collectors’ items and can be purchased for £20,000 each to raise funds for the War Horse Memorial project. The first two were purchased by Arsene Wenger and Bill Kenright. It is hoped that Her Majesty The Queen will accept No1 in the edition and a presentation to the Prime Minister has been agreed. The project benefactors will also receive a maquette. Others are currently on display at Alan Kluckow Fine Art Gallery in Sunningdale, the Osborne Gallery in Belgravia, the Fine Art Society in Edinburgh and will also be displayed at Coworth Park and Ascot Racecourse.

Alan wishes us to pass his thanks onto the many supporters of the War Horse Memorial including the past Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Cllr Sayonara Luxton, past and current leaders of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, Cllrs David Burbage and Simon Dudley, plus the RBWM Officers and councillors, Ascot Racecourse Authority, national media partner the Daily Express and their readers together with Berkeley Group PLC, and particularly their Chairman Tony Pidgley CBE.

He says: “Tony has shared with us his personal love of horses, which dates back to his childhood. He believes them to be graceful, glorious creatures and part of our collective history. We will always be incredibly grateful for his personal support to the project as it has enabled us to reach out across communities, across nations and across generations.”

The time capsule

The Daily Express has been running features on the War Horse Memorial and, as a result, the project is being supported by people around the world. Readers have sent in all sorts of war artifacts that will be buried in the time capsule including war medals, coins, a whistle used in the war and uniform buttons. To connect the project to the young people of the UK, the War Horse will be named by the Brownies in a national competition.

Events timeline 2018

• There will be a War Horse Memorial dinner to be held at Coworth Park in Ascot during February to announce their fundraising initiatives.

• There will also be a special War Horse ‘Service of Blessing’ at the Garrison Church in Windsor on 17 April 2018.

• The War Horse Memorial will be officially unveiled this summer.

To buy a maquette, attend the Coworth Park dinner or make a donation, please visit thewarhorsememorial.org.


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