Ac­co­lade for horse sanc­tu­ary founder Bernie, 57

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SHE gave her king­dom to her horses – and now Bernie Lang­field has been recog­nised for her work with res­cued horses and trou­bled teenagers at the Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Res­cue Sanc­tu­ary.

Bernie, 57, from Thorn­ton, opened the sanc­tu­ary 18 years ago, of­fer­ing a home to aban­doned horses and pro­vid­ing equine-as­sisted ther­apy for chil­dren ex­cluded from school.

Bernie re­ceived the Equine Wel­fare Award at the An­i­mal Ac­tion Awards, hosted by the In­ter­na­tional Fund for An­i­mal Wel­fare (IFAW) at the House of Lords, and was con­grat­u­lated by her MP, Bill Ester­son.

Mr Ester­son, MP for Sefton Cen­tral, said: “Bernie has done some fan­tas­tic work over the years, not just with aban­doned horses but also with young peo­ple, former Ser­vice­men and women and the home­less.

“It re­ally has been a labour of love.

“The award is wellde­served and it was a plea­sure to meet Bernie at West­min­ster.”

The event was hosted by Baroness Gale and pre­sented by TV wildlife pre­sen­ter Bill Od­die, with the award recog­nis­ing al­most two decades of hard work.

Bernie al­ways had a fas­ci­na­tion with horses and would reg­u­larly catch a bus out of Liver­pool as a child, so she could see the an­i­mals she felt a spe­cial con­nec­tion to.

Many years later, she was able to buy her young daugh­ter, Shel­ley, a pony and it was while vis­it­ing a liv­ery yard that she came across a ne­glected horse called Comet, who had been beaten with a plank and left with­out food or shel­ter.

Comet was said to have a “dan­ger­ous” tem­per­a­ment be­cause of his ex­pe­ri­ences with hu­mans, and vets pre­dicted that, due to the toll of ne­glect on his body, he would not live to the age of 20.

Bernie took on Comet and the idea of sav­ing other horses like him was born.

With sup­port and help from hus­band Eric and Shel­ley, Bernie con­vinced the lo­cal author­ity to let them take on an area of land which was be­ing used as an il­le­gal waste dump.

Af­ter a huge amount of work to clear and pre­pare the site at Buck­ley Hill Lane, they have gone on to res­cue, re­ha­bil­i­tate and re­home hun­dreds of un­wanted, ne­glected or cru­elly treated horses and ponies at Shy Lowen.

Those that can­not be re-homed are of­fered a home for ever at the sanc­tu­ary.

Comet thrived and lived out his years at the cen­tre, fi­nally pass­ing away late last year, aged 29.

UK Di­rec­tor of IFAW, Philip Mans­bridge, said: “Bernie’s ded­i­ca­tion to horse res­cue and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is out­stand­ing and she is a great ex­am­ple of an­i­mal wel­fare in ac­tion.

“We were par­tic­u­larly im­pressed by her vi­sion of horses and peo­ple con­nect­ing and re­cov­er­ing in this spe­cial com­mu­nity she has cre­ated.

“We hope that her ef­forts will in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of an­i­mal wel­fare cam­paign­ers and car­ers.

“She is a very de­serv­ing win­ner of IFAW’s Equine Wel­fare Award.”

Bernie said: “I have al­ways loved horses and felt an affin­ity with them.

“There is a strong con­nec­tion and un­der­stand­ing be­tween horses and hu­mans; de­spite the way we out­wardly present our­selves, they see who we re­ally are, and so, for a trou­bled teenager, the horse can help them to un­der­stand them­selves and with both chil­dren and adults, spend­ing time with these horses starts a jour­ney to ul­ti­mately heal each other.

“See­ing these lifechang­ing re­la­tion­ships de­velop is the most sat­is­fy­ing as­pect of the work for me.

“I couldn’t be­lieve I had won an IFAW award, but feel very emo­tional about re­ceiv­ing it.”

Bernie, Eric and Shel­ley all work to­gether at the cen­tre and are sup­ported by five part-time staff and a team of vol­un­teers, but find­ing time to fundraise to cover the cen­tre’s costs is a con­stant challenge.

Shy Lowen is cur­rently fundrais­ing for a much­needed all-weather rid­ing school, at a cost of £29,000, as the cur­rent out­door clay sur­face eas­ily floods.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Shy Lowen and how to sup­port the project, please visit www.shy­lowen.com

Pic­ture: PETER STEVENS Pho­tog­ra­phy 2017

Sefton Cen­tral MP Bill Ester­son with Bernie Lang­field, at West­min­ster

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