Pleased as punch with rare new arrival

VIDEO Ipswich farmer Tom Walne is as pleased as punch with his latest rare breed arrival.This Suffolk Punch foal, rarer than a giant panda, is just five days old and is thought to be only the fourth foal of his kind to be born in the UK this year so far.

IPSWICH farmer Tom Walne is as pleased as punch with his latest rare breed arrival.

This Suffolk Punch foal, rarer than a giant panda, is just five days old and is thought to be only the fourth foal of his kind to be born in the UK this year so far.

After 11 long months, mother Whitton Daisy finally gave birth to her foal only slightly overdue and without any assistance from staff at Rookery farm in Nettlestead, near Somersham.

Both Mr Walne, 74, and his partner Sandy Hewett, who are based at Walnut Tree Farm, Old Norwich Road, Ipswich, are delighted with the new addition and already have plans to bring him to Suffolk Show.

Ms Hewett said: “We are very privileged. It is rarer than a giant panda. Because he is a boy, he has got some attitude. He will stay here for a while and will also appear in the Suffolk Show.

“He is still finding his feet but the vet checked both him and Whitton Daisy and they doing well.”

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John Latham, farm manager, and his partner Hazel Chapman, who have been looking after Daisy for Mr Walne and Ms Hewett, were anxiously waking up every two hours in the week preceding the birth.

Then at 10.15pm on Wednesday, March 26, the long-awaited foal arrived.

A camera fixed inside the barn alerted the pair to what was happening, but by the time Mr Latham went outside to help, it was all over.

He said: “Hazel spotted on the screen that it had started to happen so I went and put on my overalls. There were feet showing, then the shoulders and head and when I got to the yard, it was on the floor. It was nice not to have to assist.

“We had to keep our eye on the mother for a few days afterwards to check she was OK because she is a rare breed and was overdue. “The mother is very protective of him and we think it's because she gave birth to him by herself.”

This is the third foal for seven-year-old mum Whitton Daisy.

Mr Walne had his first Suffolk Punch horse more than 20 years ago and has been passionate about them ever since.

He added: “We are extremely over the moon. We are 100 per cent supportive of the Suffolk Horse Society and Suffolk Punch Trust. “It is very important with these rare horses that you end up with a live foal and live mare in good condition.”

Do you own rare breed animals and have an interesting story to tell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Your chance to name the new foal

EVENING Star readers are being offered the chance to name the new foal.

Any names, from serious to wacky, will be considered.

The new foal's owner Tom Walne is looking for suggestions and will then decide which name suits his latest rare breed horse.

If you have got a good idea for a name, write to: Name The Foal, Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The new name will be announced in The Evening Star and the person behind the winning entry will get a chance to meet the new horse.

Suffolk Punch horses

The Suffolk Punch is probably the oldest breed of working horse in the world to exist in a form which we can recognise today

The breed was confined to the Eastern Counties and only started to become popular in the rest of Great Britain at the end of the working horse era

There are thought to be between 300 and 350 Suffolk Punches in the country

There are about 70 to 100 breeding mares in the UK

The average height of a Suffolk horse is 16.1 hands but many stallions reach 17 hands

Last year there were 23 new foals registered in the UK