Prompt action from Darlington fireman saw a four-day-old foal reunited with its mum unscathed after falling down an uncovered manhole in its field earlier this week.

It took eight fireman just under an hour to carefully release the foal which was stuck in mud in the 4ft hole on the Virginia Estate at Middleton St George, Teeside.

The foal, who has not been named, was rescued unharmed.

“As we cover quite a rural area, we carry a specialist engine with a boom crane which is able to swing to carry out the rescue,” explained a fire crew spokesman.” A cattle sling was put under the foal and it was lifted gently to safety.”

The crew then dug out the manhole cover found buried nearby in mud and used it to cover up the hole and make it safe.

“It was a happy ending – the foal’s mother was there, and it soon got back on its feet.”