A charity patron is encouraging local people and beyond to get behind an upcoming project to help dozens more horses in need.

John Nettles is backing The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s work to fully equip Upcott Park, its newest site, near Holsworthy, Devon.  Home to just 17 horses at present, the farm is 135 acres and will eventually be able to hold up to 90 horses – but the Sanctuary knows a lot of work needs to be done before it can reach that scale.

Midsomer Murders star Nettles, who became the charity’s patron last year and has two of its horses on loan, is keen for people who might not previously have supported the charity to find out more about what they do, and especially how equipping this new site is vital to helping more horses in need.

He said: “The Mare and Foal Sanctuary is an excellent charity which is absolutely dedicated to the welfare of horses. It is the caring attitude of the organisation which attracted me to it and I am glad to be their patron.

“Upcott Park is a huge step for the Sanctuary and they need as much help and support as possible to get the farm up to standard, so that many more horses can be saved.

“The entire infrastructure for an equine Sanctuary needs to be put in place. The buildings need refurbishing – and in some cases rebuilding; the fields need to be made safe and secure with new fencing and trackways; and the drainage needs to be addressed.

“There are so many horses out there needing to be rescued. Indeed, I understand that there are more and more every year. It is a huge problem and the more that can be saved the better.

“With work, the farm could home 45 more equines this year – and up to 90 in total. Just 17 live there at the moment, so you can see there is a very long way to go.

“A gift today, no matter how small or how big, would help the Sanctuary to complete the work at their new farm.

“The sooner they are fully up and running the better. Horses and ponies are out there now in need of rescue, and we would be so grateful for your help.”

Like its existing sites in South Devon, Upcott Park sees the Sanctuary rehabilitate and, when possible, rehome the horses in its care. However, the new farm aims to keep the land’s current character and be run in a more natural way, with the horses living out 24 hours a day. The farm is not open to the public.

For more information on The Mare and Foal Sanctuary or to donate, visit www.mareandfoal.org or call 01626 882660.