Avon and Somerset Police are to break with the tradition of naming police horses after locations across their force area, instead announcing that its youngest equine recruit will officially be named ‘Hero’ from today (16 April). The move will be a lasting tribute to the NHS workers and carers who have been saving lives and comforting the sick and dying during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The force’s newest horse, an Irish 17 hh (horse hands) Bay Gelding, arrived from Ireland in January with the passport name of “Callow’s Hero” and has quickly become known as ‘Hero’ in the stables and by his rider, PC Tracey Small.
Traditionally, his stable name would be changed once the police horse (PH) completed its training, following in the hoof prints of his stablemates PH Blaise, PH Clifton, PH Mendip, PH Quantock, PH Somerset, PH Trinity and PH Wellington.
However, given the unprecedented times caused by the national emergency, Avon and Somerset Police’s mounted patrol section requested to keep his stable name in honour of those working tirelessly in the NHS.
The name also recognises five-year-old Hero’s fast-track career. Usually police horses undergo several months of training behind the scenes but Hero has already started work in earnest. He is out working in the community, regularly patrolling alongside his more experienced stablemates as their riders engage with the public and encourage people to stay home to save lives and protect the NHS.
Sergeant Ed Amor explained: “We wanted to take this opportunity to recognise the amazing work of NHS staff not just for now, but in the years ahead.
“We can confirm that Hero has many of the appropriate credentials to represent our NHS partners, having proved himself to be kind and brave, a hard worker and fast learner and a horse who adores people, especially children.
“We are immensely proud of our work in supporting and helping to protect the NHS and our intention is that when the pandemic is finally over, Hero will be a lasting recognition of the sacrifices and bravery of NHS workers. He will also continue to proudly unite our respective organisations for years to come as he goes about his future work, helping to control crowds, patrolling communities to reduce crime and provide reassurance, searching for missing people in open areas and in his community engagement and ceremonial duties.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens added: “I was delighted when I heard about the naming of the newest police horse as it recognises the heroic efforts of the NHS and carers. These individuals have always gone above and beyond to keep us safe, especially in recent weeks. Hero will continue to serve as a reminder that we cannot let all the hard work of the NHS be in vain; we must all continue to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Avon and Somerset Police has only broken tradition on three previous occasions, with the naming of police horses PH Jubilee, PH Windsor and PH Harry Patch, the latter in tribute to well-known Somerset war hero Mr Harry Patch of Wells who fought at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 and became known as “the last Tommy”. Each of these horses was officially named by Her Majesty the Queen during previous visits to Somerset.