Why ponies are close to Pete's heart

By David LennardEVERY day of the year, Pete Bishop can be found feeding and looking after his beloved rescued ponies.A former lorry driver, Mr Bishop was diagnosed with serious heart problems a little over three years ago.

By David Lennard

EVERY day of the year, Pete Bishop can be found feeding and looking after his beloved rescued ponies.

A former lorry driver, Mr Bishop was diagnosed with serious heart problems a little over three years ago. "It was a difficult time and something that was hard to come to terms with," he said.

As he had to give up his work because of his health, the last thing Mr Bishop wanted to do was just sit around the house.


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"I needed something to do and so I started the pony rescue centre. I was determined to save these wonderful ponies from the slaughterhouse and I also believe that the rescue centre has helped save my life as well," he said.

Mr Bishop, 52, from Reydon, near Southwold, was brought up on a farm with horses, so it was an easy choice to try to do something to help the ponies.

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For the past three years Mr Bishop and his helpers have looked after ponies that would otherwise have been put down.

Some have been found new homes, while others were able to spend the final years of their lives in a tranquil peaceful setting.

Mr Bishop rents three acres of meadows from Waveney District Council close to Buss Creek, on the edge of Southwold. He has built stables there and the ponies have become popular with residents and visitors.

"I am able to stay on this land until 2005, so there is some time to go before I have to look for an alternative site," he said.

But it is not an easy task looking after rescued ponies and Mr Bishop is helped by his family and friends – including his horse-mad granddaughter, Jessica, and her friend, Amy Fish

"I do receive plenty of support from my wife, Lynda, and other members of my family. A number of people from Southwold and Reydon also help and I often have a bag of carrots left at my home for the ponies," he said.

"I am very grateful for the work that Jessica, Amy and my other helpers do. There is always plenty of work to do when it comes to looking after ponies."

Caring for rescued ponies is also an expensive operation and Mr Bishop estimated it cost in the region of £600 a month to keep the rescue centre open.

The ponies are sponsored by fellow horse-lovers, with sponsors coming from Suffolk and from much further afield, including London and Manchester.

Mr Bishop and his family also hold a number of fundraising activities, including discos and coffee mornings.

"Local people in Southwold and Reydon have got behind us and really supported our fundraising efforts. But, like everything else, our costs are always rising, so we cannot let up," said Mr Bishop.

Unfortunately, one of the rescued ponies, Star, died a few weeks ago, but it is the sort of setback that Mr Bishop and his helpers have to deal with.

"It is always sad when a pony dies as we would much rather see them happy and be able to find them new homes," he said.

"Star was a lovely pony, but his death means we can now take on another pony that would otherwise be going to the slaughterhouse."

Mr Bishop prints regular updates on what is happening at the rescue centre and pins them up on the gate beside the main entrance to the meadows.

"I am always happy to stop and talk to people about what we are doing here. For many people, a trip to Southwold is not complete without a visit to the ponies," he added.

n Anyone wanting more information about the rescue centre can contact Pete or Lynda Bishop on 01502 723400.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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