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War Horse author Michael Morpurgo has been honoured by a Devon council for his contributions to rural life.

War Horse is set in the West Country during the First World War and recent filming of a film of Mr Morpurgo’s book, directed by Steven Spielberg, took place in the Dartmoor village of Sheepstor.

Mr Morpurgo was named a Freeman of the Borough of West Devon and was credited with bringing “honour and distinction” to the value of rural life.

He and his wife Claire set up the charity Farms for City Children in Iddesleigh in 1976. The charity aims to expand the horizons of children from towns and cities all over the country by offering them the chance to spend a week in the countryside on one of the three farms — in Pembrokeshire, Devon and Gloucestershire.

“Michael and Clare Morpurgo and their team have achieved a remarkable experience for inner city children, introducing them to our rural way of life,” Clr John Hockridge, the mayor of west Devon told local press.