Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Heroic Horse Sefton, Who Defied the IRA, Immortalised in Bronze

Sefton was an amazingly brave horse who's spirit never died.  This sculpture will commemorate his courage, bravery and fight for life after being horribly wounded in battle.  Be sure to check out the pictures at the end which show you how Sefton's statue was made.  They are really cool pictures and I like how this article shows you the process.  It took the artist two years to create the life-size bronze statue of Sefton and I think its really beautiful!  ~Declan 

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze

Sefton, the Household Cavalry horse who survived the IRA bombing in Hyde Park, will be commemorated with a sculpture to be unveiled next year.

Trooper Michael Pederson who was riding Sefton when the bomb went off takes an affectionate leave of his mount at Knightsbridge Barracks in 1984  Photo: Srdja DjukanovicSefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze

His indomitable spirit saw him become a symbol of triumph over adversity when he survived one of the IRA’s most infamous attacks.
Now, Sefton, the Household Cavalry horse wounded in the IRA bombing in Hyde Park that killed four soldiers and seven horses, will be commemorated with a sculpture commissioned by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).
A life-size, bronze statue of Sefton, depicting the black gelding in a brisk walk, will be unveiled at the RVC’s campus in Hawkshead, Herts, next year.
Camilla Le May, the RVC’s artist in residence, spent two years working on the project and six months creating the sculpture, which weighs three quarters of a ton
She studied photographs of Sefton, and spoke with many people who rode and cared for the him at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the Horse Trust sanctuary where he retired, while creating the work.
She also used a real-life model in the form Ed, an Irish Draught, the same breed as Sefton, who was loaned by the Bedgebury Equestrian Centre in Kent to model for Miss Le May in her studio over several months.
Sefton’s statue is moved before waxing
Ed posed while loosely tied up eating hay or being held by the artist on a long rein while she sculpted with her free hand.
Miss Le May, 39, from Wadhurst, East Sussex, said: “It has been a huge honour and I hope the work depicts both Sefton’s courage and spirited character. Sefton wasn’t just any horse - he means so much to so many people.”
Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, who was the Household Cavalry’s commanding officer at the time of the IRA attack, and is patron of the project, said: “It has been wonderful to see this work from its beginnings and now seemingly to be meeting an old friend again.
"I remember Sefton for his courage and also for his spirit. For me, he epitomises the finest qualities we see in our Armed Forces.”
Sefton was among 15 horses of the Blues and Royals regiment on duty for the Queen’s Life Guard on July 20, 1982 when an IRA car bomb exploded close to the regiment’s Knightsbridge barracks.
A second bomb in Regent’s Park two hours later killed seven bandsmen of the Royal Green Jackets, on a day that claimed more casualties than any other IRA attack on mainland Britain.
More than 50 people were injured in the attacks and pictures of the horses’ corpses lying among the debris became one of the enduring images of the Troubles.
Sefton survived, despite sustaining 38 injuries, including a partially severed jugular vein and a badly damaged eye.
It is believed his life was saved by a guardsman who tore off his shirt and used it to stem the flow of blood on the orders of the then Lt Col Parker Bowles.
Sefton, who was 19 at the time of the attack, underwent surgery for more than eight hours - a record for equine surgery at the time - where 28 pieces of shrapnel were removed from his body.
He was given a 50 per cent chance of survival, but made a full recovery and returned to duty within three months, serving with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment for another two years where he was often ridden by Sergeant Michael Pedersen, his rider on the day of the IRA attack.
Sefton’s fighting spirit attracted many fans. He was named “horse of the year” at the 1982 Horse of the Year Show at Wembley Arena, and received a standing ovation when he and Sgt Pedersen appeared at the show.
Thousands of well-wishers sent donations to the Household Cavalry, which were used to fund the Sefton Equine Hospital at the RVC’s campus in Hawkshead, which was replaced with a new facility in 2010.
The RVC has trained vets who have served in the armed forces since the 18th century. Many of its students go on to serve in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, which provides vets to work in Afghanistan caring for military dogs and the livestock of locals.
Jonathan Forrest, the College’s development director, said: “The College wants to mark its long association with the military and military animals.
"Sefton’s courage and resilience in the face of his awful injuries propelled him on to a national stage and it seemed appropriate that his spirited victory be remembered. The statue commemorates Sefton and all the animals that serve.”
After 17 years of military service, Sefton retired to the Horse Trust sanctuary in Buckinghamshire in 1984 aged 21, where he lived until the age of 30.
Brigadier Paul Jepson, the former chief executive of the Horse Trust and honorary veterinary surgeon to the Queen, said: “Sefton had bags of character. Other horses who survived the Hyde Park bombing were left traumatised and unable to return to their duties.
“Sefton was different. His bravery was remarkable.”
Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
The armature was designed...

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
...and scaled up from the maquette

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
The sculpting began after the first layer of clay was loaded on to the frame

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
On completion of the sculpting, the foundry came to Miss Le May's studio to create a mould on site

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
First, rubber was painted on...

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
...then a glass fibre case fitted to support it

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
The mould was removed and taken back to the foundry, where wax was painted into the 17 sections. Miss Le May touched up and checked the wax sections, which were then coated with a ceramic shell and placed in a kiln for the wax to melt out 

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
Molten bronze was then poured in, before the ceramic shell was cracked off 

Sefton, heroic horse who defied IRA, immortalised in bronze
The bronze sections were assembled, welded together, 'chased' to remove any casting marks and fettled. Finally, the work was patinated and waxed  

The Household Cavalry has operational and ceremonial roles and raises funds for their casualties, veterans and horses through the Household Cavalry Foundation. The Foundation has recently published Uniquely British - A Year in the Life of the Household Cavalry - www.hcavfoundation.org
* A maquette of the Sefton sculpture will be exhibited at the Society of Equestrian Artists Annual Open Exhibition, The Menier Gallery, London, SE1, November 20 to December 1

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