Celebrity miniature pony Patrick, like Hollywood legend Fred Astaire, is putting on his top hat, tying up his white tie and brushing off his tail. He wants to look his best as he’s on his way to Ascot to answer a formal invite as equine guest of honour for a very special occasion.
Patrick, and the Petrakis family from Torquay who look after him, are heading to the famous town, home of Poppy, our War Horse Memorial, for the launch of the first National War Animal Day on Monday (August 23). Kirk Petrakis and his wife Hannah are Ambassadors for the War Horse Memorial, which supports horse sanctuaries and animal welfare organisations through the Animal Purple Poppy Fund.
Patrick will join dozens of guests and celebrities, including the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, representatives from the Household Cavalry Foundation and Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery. He will entertain during a reception at the famous racecourse following a service of remembrance. It will be attended by representatives of the Donkey Breed Society, The Horse Trust, Blue Acre Horse Rescue and Mane Chance founding Director Jenny Seagrove, the stage and screen actress
The Service, conducted by Fr. Darrell Hannah of All Saints Church, will start promptly at 2.15pm. This will include prayers and the Act of Remembrance which will commence with the Exhortation recited by Major Brian Rogers followed by the Last Post, two minutes silence and Reveille. The Kohima Epitaph will then be recited by Giles Stibbe OBE, Director in Charge of the Household Cavalry Foundation. There will be a final prayer to conclude the service followed by wreath laying.
National War Animal Day recognises all animals who have given service and sacrifice. Poppy, our magnificent war horse, stands in Ascot as a memorial; a reminder of the horses, mules and donkeys who lost their lives in the First World War. After gentle pressure from our army of volunteers and supporters, however, we have decided it is time to also remember other animals, including dogs, cats, pigeons, canaries and camels, involved in conflict over countless wars. The Imperial War Museum tell us16 million animals were used for transport, communication and companionship in WW1 alone.
It’s hard to imagine, but ponies even as small as Patrick would have been either sent to the Front, or used down coal mines to support the war effort. We think a national day where we remember them all is both fitting and overdue. The symbol for the day is the purple poppy and, despite coronavirus restrictions, thousands of pin badges and knitted poppies for people and animals to wear have been already sold by supporters like Kirk and Hannah to help good causes. Our Animal Purple Poppy Fund continues into the autumn. If you want to wear a badge to show your support, email Margaret at email@example.com