An equine vet who fulfilled a lifelong dream to buy her own yard lost everything when it was burned to the ground in an arson attack 10 days later.
Natalie McGoldrick, who won the vet of the year title at the 2017 H&H Awards, had not yet moved her horses into the property, in Denmead, Hampshire, when the buildings went up in flames on Easter Sunday (21 April).
Natalie, who had been with her parents celebrating she and her horse Tricky Johnie’s qualifying for four-star level (previously three-star) at Bicton in the CCI-S 3* (previously CIC2*), heard the phone ring as soon as she got home at about 11pm.
“It was the police, to ask if I owned a ‘barn’ in Denmead – and they said the entire place had burned to the ground,” Natalie told H&H.
“This was my dream; ever since I was old enough to know what I wanted, it’s been my aim to have my own yard, now there’s nothing left.”
Natalie has run her own practice, South Coast Equine Vets, for eight years, only taking days off to event her own horses, to save enough for the yard.
“I bought it 10 days before it was burned to the ground,” she said. “About 20 of my clients had been there tidying it up, we’d painted the stables, and one of my clients had been putting a back door in one of the stables for my advanced eventer who likes to have free access. I went up there at about 8pm when I got back to see it, and it looked superb.
“Then by 11pm, the whole place had gone. I’d said it almost felt too good to be true – and it was.”
Natalie said her horses were, and are, still living in fields she rents, but she has to leave that premises by 30 April.
'There we were, standing on the A1, with articulated lorries doing emergency stops, and the wagon just went up'
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But she said she has been overwhelmed by the support shown to her since the fire; from clients, including one who has set up a fundraising page in her aid, to which people have already donated over £1,200.
“I’d feel really bad asking for money but she set this page up, and didn’t tell me; it just goes to show how people care,” Natalie said.
“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing; my clients were exceptional anyway, and the offers I’ve had; of help, yards and fields, equipment, the messages of support from people I don’t even know – it’s been astounding. It goes to show there are far more lovely people out there than horrible ones.
“It’s just so lucky I hadn’t moved my horses yet, and people’s generosity, in every way, has been quite incredible.”