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Sadness at death of gentle giant Queenie

PUBLISHED: 14:05 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 14:49 07 July 2010

Staff at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum, were in mourning this week after the sudden death of their much-loved Suffolk Punch mare, Queenie.

But they have been overwhelmed, by a £7,000 bequest from by a local charity to fund a new horse to keep the long tradition alive.

Staff at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum, were in mourning this week after the sudden death of their much-loved Suffolk Punch mare, Queenie.

But they have been overwhelmed, by a £7,000 bequest from by a local charity to fund a new horse to keep the long tradition alive.

Members of the Ivy Child Charitable Trust leapt into action after learning of the loss of 17-year-old Queenie, who had been a familiar site at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse for many years.

She was the children's favourite, a gentle giant who loved the attention but was just as keen to work. She gave countless demonstrations of traditional farming and took visitors on cart rides around the farm.

But the mare, one of four of the breed at the farm, suddenly developed serious colic last week and, despite immediate care from veterinary surgeons, she died the same day.

Farm manager Richard Dalton said staff did everything they could to save her.

“The vets were able to give her painkillers which helped but the problem is that in 90pc of serious cases surgery is the only option and with a large horse it is fraught with risk.

“There is the added problem of getting her to Newmarket which would be the nearest place that could do it.”

“This is a tragic loss and the worst part of having horses.

“She was a wonderful friend, she was gentle and willing and a real stalwart.

“She was the leader of the pack, being a mare, and the others are missing her already and you can tell they are listening for her.”

Last month the Friends of Gressenhall launched a campaign to raise £7,000 to buy and harness another Suffolk - and when the appeal was reiterated following Queenie's death, the Ivy Child Charitable Trust responded with the full sum.

Set up in memory of Wymondham-born Mrs Child, the trust has supported many good causes and projects such as respite care for families, the Salvation Army Tins and Toys Appeal and the Scouts.

Ian Mackie is a county councillor and member of the Norfolk Joint Museums Committee and his father David is chairman of the Ivy Child Charitable Trust.

He said: “The Suffolk Punch is an important rural tradition and it is important to keep it going and the horses provide a valuable and wonderful experience to so many children.”

The Friends of Gressenhall were “overwhelmed” by the generosity of the donation but will continue to raise money to continue to plan for the future.

Farm manager Richard Dalton said the trust's gift was “incredibly generous”.

“It gives us a platform for the future,” said Mr Dalton, who is looking at bringing in a horse which is younger than the current Suffolks at Gressenhall but not a tiny foal.

Christine Walters, chairman of the Friends, said: “There are now less than 430 Suffolks left in the UK, which makes them rarer than the giant panda.”

For more information about the Friends contact Christine Walters on 01362 860967 or email cmjwalters@ btinternet. com

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