A farmer and Shire enthusiast will be driving his horses on a 600-mile trip from Gloucestershire to Morayshire this summer, to raise funds for the charity that helped support his brother through more than a decade of round-the-clock nursing care.
Jamie Alcock, who runs Coldcroft Shires, usually offers experience days and carriage rides with his three horses at his working traditional farm in Huntley.
But after a year of lockdown — during which he rarely left the farm as he was classed as clinically vulnerable — he now has plans to hit the road for a six-week fundraising trip to northeast Scotland.
Jamie plans to camp out with the horses during the challenge, which is raising money for Police Care UK and The Fire Fighters Charity.
These independent charities both support serving and retired police officers and firefighters when they have been harmed as a result of their work, and offer free practical, emotional and financial assistance including counselling.
Jamie’s brother PC John Alcock was an officer with Grampian police, stationed at Elgin in Morayshire, when he was involved in a car accident while heading to a royal protection shift at Balmoral in 2003.
He suffered a devastating head injury and never regained consciousness, dying 14 years later in 2017.
“As sad as it what happened to my brother was, the real inspiration was the way the police charities and federation responded, not just to what happened to him on the day but afterwards. They did a lot to help his partner and young son,” Jamie told H&H.
Some two years after the accident, John returned home to a hospital room that had been created at his house. He received round-the-clock care from two nurses, funded by a mixture of charities and the police federation.
“He eventually received a big compensation payout, which was eaten up with care, but the charities wouldn’t take a penny back for what they had done,” Jamie said. “I have always thought that I could never repay them but I know with what has happened with Covid in the last 12 months, charities have taken a massive hit and now I want to raise money to put it back in the pot to help other people.”
Jamie’s eight-year-old Shires Mollie and William will begin their journey on Saturday, 5 June, when they will be sent on their way by the chief constable of Gloucestershire and representatives of the fire and rescue service.
They will be accompanied by Jamie’s collie Boo Boo Beithe, who will help with security, while Jamie is also inviting up to two people at a time to join him on his carriage for a donation of £30 per person.
Jamie has already had support pledged by his veterinary physiotherapist Vet Physio UK, who will treat the horses before and during the trip, and Carriagehouse Insurance, which has insured his journey at its own expense. Transport for the horses and carriage is also being provided by Eric Gillies.
“I will always stay with the horses throughout the trip but I am starting to get some generous offers of places we can stop,” added Jamie, who hopes to keep to a schedule of 20 miles a day. “I’m just hoping every now and then someone will let me use their bath!
“I will be carrying enough water to wash the horses down and I do have a support vehicle, which isn’t following me every step of the way but will be there to help refill hay and water when needed.”
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A lifelong horse-lover, Jamie fulfilled a long-term ambition to own a Shire when he retired from his job as a dry-stone waller and bought Coldcroft Farm some six years ago.
He farms Gloucestershire cattle, Cotsworld sheep, west of England geese and Gloucester old spot pigs in a “very old-fashioned traditional way”, including using the Shires to maintain the land and make hay, preserving and teaching historic skills.
Anyone wanting to donate money towards the charities can do so on Jamie’s fundraising page.
The journey can also be followed in real time online and on Instagram at Straight From The Horses’ Mouth 2021.
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