The Racehorse Sanctuary in Cowfold, West Sussex, is the first equestrian business to win a “Rural Oscar”.

The charity, run by Graham Oldfield and Sue Collins, was nominated for a national Countryside Alliance award for its “selfless commitment to animal welfare, rehoming and giving therapy to retired racehorses”.

It scooped the Rural Hero award at a ceremony at the House of Lords last week (30 March).

This is the sixth year of the “rural Oscars”, set up to celebrate the “characters, produce, traditions and enterprise” of the countryside.

The Racehorse Sanctuary, which was formed six years ago, was nominated by members of the public and selected by judges.

“We’re absolutely thrilled and didn’t expect it at all. We’re very proud,” Graham told H&H.
Racing is not normally recognised outside the sport, so this is brilliant. We’re currently looking for a new property as we’re at capacity with 25 horses, but have a waiting list of 60.”

Countryside Alliance chief executive Alice Barnard said: “Graham, Sue and their team are heroic, using their lifetime’s experience and love of horses to really make a difference.”
Other winners included Nursey of Bungay, Suffolk, producers of specialist equestrian saddles, which won The Daily Telegraph Traditional Business award.

Other winners included:
The special lifetime achievement award — The Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire for “sparking the local food movement in the UK”.

Local food award — Farrington’s Farm Shop, Farrington Gurney, Bristol

Village shop/post office award — Yarpole Community Shop Association and Post Office, Yarpole, Leominster, Herefordshire

Enterprise award — Growing Well, Low Sizergh, Kendal, Cumbria

Butcher award — SW Doughty, Doddington, Kent

Hunter rural hero (age 15 and under) — Tom and Lottie Sweet, Lampeter, Ceredigion.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (7 April, 2011)