29/03/2011 Armed Forces Volunteers Help Out at The Horse Trust

Over 30 volunteers from the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force spent a day helping out at The Horse Trust's sanctuary in Buckinghamshire on Sunday 13 March. The Horse Trust looks after horses and ponies, providing an animal sanctuary.  They include ex-military and ex-working horses.

The 32 volunteers, from the Defence School of Medical Technical Training (DSMTT) at Keogh Barracks, Aldershot, are training to become Medics in the Armed Forces. The group of volunteers was led by Corporal Dan Batsch and Sergeant Amanda Smith, who are both instructors at the school.

The volunteers helped out with a number of maintenance tasks at The Horse Trust's sanctuary, including painting fences, horse shelters and barns, landscaping and leaf clearance.

"We're so grateful to the Armed Forces volunteers who gave up their Sunday to help out with these essential maintenance tasks at the sanctuary," said Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive Officer of The Horse Trust. "It was amazing how much they managed to get done in just one day. We simply do not have the staffing or resources to do as much to maintain the estate and farm buildings as we would like, so this huge helping hand was truly magnificent. "

Major Ashok Rao, the Officer Commanding Phase 2 Training at DSMTT said “We have encouraged voluntary work amongst the trainees as there are several benefits to all the parties concerned.  It encourages the trainees to develop their core values, which is extremely important for them at this stage of their training.  It also allows the trainees to see how selfless acts can directly benefit others.  The direct interaction with local communities allows a greater understanding of the Services and in turn greater support for the Armed Forces.”

Corporal Dan Batsch, an instructor at DSMTT, who organised the day said he wanted to help The Horse Trust because of the work it carries out with retired horses from the military. Corporal Batsch regularly rode Denzil at the Light Cavalry, a horse that recently retired to the sanctuary after 19 years service for the Army.

"I visited The Horse Trust for the first time a month ago when I helped transport Denzil to the sanctuary," said Corporal Batsch. "I was pleased that Denzil would be able to spend the remainder of his life in such a peaceful location. I wanted to do something to help the charity, so set up this volunteer day."

"The volunteer day was such a success that we hope to make this a regular activity for trainees at the Defence School of Medical Technical Training," added Corporal Batsch.

Private Smith from the Royal Army Medical Corps said “It was a great day helping out, doing voluntary work in our own time shows what the Armed Forces are really about, and that there’s more to the Armed Forces than fighting. Putting time into helping a charity is such a rewarding feeling. Helping paint the barns, clearing unwanted vegetation and clearing roads and paths may be small things, but 5 hours of us doing that means other people have those 5 hours to give their time where it is really needed and that is with the horses.”

“I really enjoyed the day and was grateful for the opportunity to help The Horse Trust. Everybody was in high spirits throughout our time at the trust and on the journey back to base. At the end of the day we had time to look around and see the horses and learn about their background. Many people were moved by some of the stories of those horses who were neglected, which made us feel very privileged to be able to help them, even though it may have been indirectly. Our time at the Home of Rest meant that essential maintenance of the area was completed. This enabled the volunteers who look after the horses directly to dedicate their time caring for them” said Aircraftswoman B. Wilkinson from the Royal Air Force.

“Today has been a most enjoyable day, which on a personal level I have enjoyed. It is encouraging to see all staff at The Horse Trust providing an excellent service and with it being a charity based project, I was pleased to be a part of it for the day and would gladly return if required” said Able Seaman S L. Leadbitter. Royal Navy. The Horse Trust is happy to accommodate groups of volunteers and has a variety of volunteer opportunities available in the office and yard. For more information about volunteering, contact 01494 488 464 or info@horsetrust.org.uk