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A Welsh equine charity has paid tribute to a “priceless” mare who passed away last week.

The Society for the Welfare of Horse and Ponies (SWHP) shared the sad news that their “nanny mare” Lilly had been put to sleep earlier this week (29 March).

The bay, who was in her 30s, was taken into the charity’s care eight years ago after she was found emaciated in a field in Pontypool.

Due to her age, SWHP staff decided she could not be rehomed, but would be cared for by the charity at its Coxstone centre in Monmouth.

“When aged mare Lilly was found eight years ago her emaciated condition, hidden by a rug shocked us all,” said a SWHP spokesman.

“However, when she was fully restored to health we very soon discovered she had a passion for young foals and during her eight wonderful twilight years with us she has raised no fewer than 12 orphan foals, the most recent being Cracker and Chance.

“Lilly was priceless to us and those orphan foals, she allowed them to suckle — though she had no milk — she gave them great comfort that only a mother can give, she loved them all dearly and they in turn loved her as did we all.

“She instilled them with good manners and corrected them when needed so they grew up happy youngsters with a good future ahead of them.”

Lilly’s health had began to deteriorate last week.

“Lilly started to fail and we knew, with the heaviest of hearts, the kindest decision was for her to be put to sleep,” added the charity spokesman.

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“She is resting under her favourite tree in the paddock where she always liked to snooze with a foal at her side.

“She is deeply missed by all especially Cracker, Ann [Walker] our yard manager and the staff who looked after her for many years.

“We know she will also be missed by our many loyal supporters who made a point of visiting Lilly and her latest orphan foal when coming to Coxstone. Sleep soundly dear Lilly.”