Michael Morpurgo has paid tribute to the horse behind his knighthood.

Mr Morpurgo received the title in the 2018 New Year Honours list — and has thanked Joey, the star of his celebrated book War Horse, for the accolade.

Since its publication in 1982, War Horse has been adapted into a much-loved stage show and film.

“There was never a knight that has owed so much to his horse as this one,” said Mr Morpurgo.

The author was awarded the knighthood for his services to literature and charity, and also thanked his mother “who first gave me a love of stories by reading to me in bed ad night”, his wife Clare and Ted Hughes.

He said the honour gives him a platform to advance one of his main passions: “The opportunity to talk about children’s literature and how really important that is to our young people growing up today.”

He is a children’s laureate, an honour given in recognition of his lifetime’s contribution to children’s literature, president of the Book Trust and co-founder of the charity Farms for City Children with his wife.

His other titles include The Butterfly Lion, Out Of The Ashes and An Eagle In The Snow.

“They [children] learn so much — not just spelling and punctuation, all that’s very important — but what you learn from a book is understanding and empathy,” added Mr Morpurgo.

“You learn to understand about other people, people of different colour, of different religion, of a different age – and reading can do that.

“So it’s wonderful to be in a position to maybe do that more powerfully.”

Jilly Cooper, author of the best-selling Rutshire chronicles — which include Riders, Rivals and Polo — has been appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to literature and charity.

New Year Honours list

When asked in a BBC interview what three things she would like to be able to “command”, Jilly replied: “to stop people being cruel”.

To stop people being cruel to animals — desperately about animals — and also to children and to people,” said Mrs Cooper.

She said if she had the power, she would raise fines for those guilty of animal cruelty, adding that she would also like to see a successful Brexit.

Article continues below…


You might also be interested in:


Other stars from the equestrian world included in the 2018 list include four-time champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson, who was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order.

Mr Henderson, who trains racehorses for The Queen, said he is “extremely proud, honoured, surprised and privileged” to be recognised.

“It’s a complete honour to train for Her Majesty and a very special bonus,” he added.

Master farrier Doug Bradbury, FWCF of Clay Cross, Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, was appointed MBE for his services to the farrier profession and the community in the East Midlands.

Mr Bradbury is the head of three generations of Derbyshire farriers, including his son, Neal, and grandson, Thomas.

He transformed the old forge offices in Clay Cross, Derbys, into the UK Horseshoeing Museum and lectures across the country.

Mr Bradbury received the Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers in 1986 and is one of only 74 farriers in the UK to earn the title of “master farrier” from the Worshipful Company.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday