Charity Founder Honoured with IFAW Award

Sue Burton, Founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary, received an award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the House of Lords, on Tuesday 20 October, honouring her dedication to rescuing and improving the welfare of thousands of horses. TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie presented the award.

The IFAW awards programme runs in countries all around the world and looks to reward special people who have done something outstanding for animals. Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Sue’s dedication to horse rescue and protection is a great example of animal welfare in action. Her efforts have saved thousands of horses and other animals and she is a true inspiration to others. She is a very deserving winner of IFAW’s Equine Welfare Award.”

Animal lover Sue Burton, from Billericay in Essex, set up Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary in 1983, where it now provides rehabilitation and long-term care for over 200 animals at the 40-acre site near Ingatestone. Sue’s action followed two horrific activities; firstly, the plight of horses on Rainham Marshes, where more than 100 horses were left on the bleak marshland and 13 died in horrific conditions after being cut off by floodwaters. Secondly, the case of Remus, a horse that was stolen and starved for three months in a feud over a £50 debt. Remus was left tied to a lamppost and despite Sue’s valiant efforts to save him; he eventually had to be put down.

Sue says, “There is a huge horse welfare problem in this country and its just getting worse all the time. Back in 1983, I was determined to help other animals in Remus’ memory. Many of the animals we take in at the Sanctuary have suffered physical or mental abuse because of human cruelty or ignorance.”

The Sanctuary aims to help all the horses it can which have been left to die in fields and, if there is no space on-site, she will travel out to keep feeding them. The Sanctuary has also gained a reputation as a specialist centre for the treatment of veteran and blind horses, and has provided homes to two of Britain’s oldest known horses, one of whom – Orchid – died recently aged 50. Sue and her team also offer advice on animal welfare and to owners of elderly horses, and organise a variety of workshops on elderly horse care, health, nutrition and many complementary therapies.

The work of the Sanctuary also extends into the wider community, with ponies taken to visit care homes for the elderly and schools to educate young people about respecting and caring for animals. Remus is an accredited organisation offering work placements to young people and is a Duke of Edinburgh Award training venue. Tours and talks are also provided for disabled, deaf, and blind groups.

Sue ensures she is available 24/7 to respond to calls to help animals in need and is also under constant pressure to fundraise to pay the running costs of the Sanctuary, which are in excess of £400,000 annually. The charity relies totally on public donations.

Despite all of the demands on her time from running the Sanctuary and carrying out hands-on rescue work, Sue continues to campaign for improved horse welfare and has lobbied at Westminster on the issue. She also promotes horse welfare and cruelty issues locally and encourages members of the public to be on the lookout for signs of distress in horses and to report any suspected cruelty or neglect, in Essex and across neighbouring counties. More information on this can be found via the Horse Welfare section of the Remus website.

Following the award, Sue said, “I was very pleased for the whole team to hear I would receive an IFAW award, it represents the work done by everyone here. Our work is often very similar to a hospice, giving animals that have usually suffered greatly, the very best of care, allowing the younger ones to get over their abuse and develop into happy adults, or for the older ones to spend their twilight years doing as they wish while enjoying the highest quality care that we can achieve.

“I don’t think a horse should be put down because it has reached a certain age if it can still thrive; I think we should be giving something back, especially when so many of these horses have suffered in the past. The most satisfying aspect of the work is seeing a horse that at first has completely shut itself down and won’t interact, to suddenly coming to me or playing with other horses in the field. This is how they should be, full of life, and when I see that restored it is very special.”

For further information, contact Sue Burton on tel: 01277 356191.


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