Grey Shires perform final act of service for The Queen

  • A pair of Shire horses who appeared in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at Royal Windsor Horse Show have undertaken a final act of service for The Queen.

    Operation Centaur’s working Shires Heath and Nobby, aged 17 and 14 respectively, have been helping collect the many thousands of floral tributes in Green Park and Hyde Park.

    The pair, who both stand at 18.3hh, pulled flatbed drays – a traditional open card usually used in conservation work across the Royal Parks – to help collect the flowers left by members of the public in tribute to Her Majesty.

    They took the bouquets to the leaf pen in Kensington Gardens, where they will be blended with leaf litter and other green waste, to be composted and turned into mulch. That compost will in turn be used in London’s parks, including for the floral displays outside Buckingham Palace.

    “The thousands of tributes that have been left held great sentiment for the people who travelled from all over the country to mark their respects for The Queen and they have created a tranquil and beautiful garden visited by so many,” said Andrew Williams, park manager at Kensington Gardens, the Royal Parks.

    “We felt that it was appropriate to continue the story of the tributes by creating compost at our green-waste facility here in Kensington Gardens, to support new shoots of life and colourful displays of flowers in spring.

    “The mulch generated from the organic material will enrich the soil of the Royal Parks over the coming years.

    “The flowers will provide pleasure to the millions of visitors to the Royal Parks in the future, and will enhance these incredible green spaces within London by providing a valuable habitat for invertebrates including bees and butterflies.”

    Staff and volunteers filled the working drays with the bouquets and other artefacts, removing any remaining cellophane wrappings and elastic bands, ensuring that only organic material is composted.

    Cards, teddies and other artefacts are being stored in the Royal Parks, while a decision is made on what to do with them. The waste plastic is being sent to a materials recovery facility, which will separate out anything that can be recycled.

    Operation Centaur is a London-based equine charity that works with rare breed heavy horses in conservation, heritage, equine therapy and community projects.

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