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Award for blaze centre manager

PUBLISHED: 05:36 27 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

A BRAVERY award has been given to an equestrian centre manager in recognition of his ''extraordinary courage'' when he rescued horses trapped by fire.

Jon Hardwick, manager of Poplar Park, Hollesley, near Woodbridge, received the bronze award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) at a ceremony at the adjoining Mike Daniel Driving Yard.

A BRAVERY award has been given to an equestrian centre manager in recognition of his ''extraordinary courage'' when he rescued horses trapped by fire.

Jon Hardwick, manager of Poplar Park, Hollesley, near Woodbridge, received the bronze award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) at a ceremony at the adjoining Mike Daniel Driving Yard.

The prompt action of neighbours Carl and Fiona Lennard in summoning help and calling the fire brigade was also recognised with awards.

The RSPCA had only presented three such awards during the last 20 years but the organisation was so impressed with the actions of the three people that they doubled the total.

The fire broke out at the Driving Yard last June – the Poplar Park centre was untouched – and destroyed wooden stables. Two ponies liveried with Mr Daniel could not be saved.

Paul Seager, assistant divisional officer with Suffolk fire service, made the recommendation for the awards. He said the three people were extremely brave and did well to rescue the horses.

He said a barbecue had been held in the yard and then a broom was used to sweep up the ashes and put them at a safe distance from the yard. The broom was put back in the store. But there were hot embers among the bristles and they started smouldering, set the broom on fire and then the blaze spread from there.

The RSPCA said: ''Forensics were able to establish that a broom harbouring smouldering embers was the direct cause of the disaster. The speed with which the fire took hold was unbelievable.

''At 9pm Poplar Park staff were still working next door and all was peaceful. By 9.30pm, although the fire service were in attendance within minutes of being called, most of the yard was already beyond saving.''

The RSPCA stressed that people working with horses needed to be aware that opening stable doors to release trapped horses was sometimes ineffective.

''In this case the animals were so traumatised by the holocaust around them that they had given up and would not move. Water and buckets were thrown at them and they had to be literally thrashed to shock them into moving,'' said the organisation.

It added that people should not hold bonfires, barbecues or any kind of fire or bottled gas anywhere near stabling.


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