A day in the life of World Horse Welfare field officer Jacko Jackson

Jacko Jackson with a new arrival at World Horse Welfare.
Picture: World Horse Welfare

Jacko Jackson with a new arrival at World Horse Welfare. Picture: World Horse Welfare - Credit: World Horse Welfare

After 21 years as World Horse Welfare field officer there’s very little that can surprise Jacko Jackson but plenty that still makes every day rewarding and worthwhile.

It’s just a few months since the Norfolk-based charity World Horse Welfare celebrated its 90th anniversary.

Formerly named the International league for the Protection of Horses, the charity was founded in 1927 by Ada Cole to end the abuse of British horses destined for slaughter in Europe.

Nine decades on and World Horse Welfare’s mission continues to be the voice of invisible horses all over the world, from those suffering neglect at home to the many thousands of working horses abroad, often toiling in terrible conditions, and those forced to travel hundreds of miles across Europe to slaughter.

Its national network of 16 field officers investigate around 2,000 reports of ill treatment and neglect each year, make regular monitoring visits to rehomed horses and give talks to local groups about the charity’s work.

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One of the longest-serving field officers is Jacko Jackson, who has been covering the a patch that takes in Norfolk and Suffolk for 21 years.

What does a typical day involve?

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I begin by checking my emails and phone messages and liaise with the UK welfare team at head office as they take the calls from concerned members of the public. Each day I will be assigned welfare concerns to investigate, possibly travelling to the wilds of Suffolk, South Lincs or, if I’m lucky, staying in Norfolk. This can change in an instant - take, for instance, the other Monday. I received a phone call from the police and as a result attended some premises in Norfolk. From this I was able to identify two very thin animals, which also happened to be stolen. Those animals were reunited with their owner, which made a good day even better.

How has the job changed since you’ve been doing it?

The biggest change has been moving from a paper-based system to computer-based. This allows me to have information available at the touch of a button - good in some ways, but you can’t beat the old-fashioned skill of communicating face-to-face with people.

You’re a former police officer and now a special constable. How does that link up with your job?

I was never a mounted officer in Norfolk but I did teach my own horse to do police work and as a result competed all over the country in police horse competitions, thanks to the chief constable. Five years ago I heard about a crime initiative to combat rural crime. This is a subject close to my heart so I went to the initial meeting and as a result myself and World Horse Welfare helped to get the scheme up and running. This desire to help led to me re-joining the Norfolk Constabulary as a special constable. I cannot describe how proud I was to put the uniform on again. It got even better when I began patrolling as a mounted officer in my rural community.

How do you cope emotionally with the distressing things you see in your role?

Nearly 30 years in the police is very helpful in giving you the skills to deal with most things life throws at you. The reason I’m here and in this job is that I want to help improve the lives of horses so focussing on that helps to make it all very worthwhile. A little bit of humour also helps!

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

Getting home at 9 o’clock in the evening, missing my tea, having spent all day with like-minded people, especially our staff from Hall Farm who will turn out for me at 4 o’clock on a Friday evening, rain or shine, and help me to wade through muck and filth to get an emaciated animal out of an environment and bring it to a warm, caring place where it will be looked after and hopefully have a long life in our ownership, giving a lot of pleasure to a family who have adopted the horse.

How do you relax away from work?

Spending time with my own horses, doing a duty at Sandringham church on Christmas morning and looking after people. Finally, working with the other guys on the horse unit when we introduce ordinary people to police horses. My wife says I never unwind. As a police officer I looked after people with two legs, my people now have four, and they still need looking after.

Anyone interested in arranging a field officer talk should contact 01953 497232 or kirstencooke@worldhorsewelfare.org.

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