Jamie Alcock and his Shire horses have completed a 650-mile carriage drive from Gloucestershire to Morayshire and raised nearly £50,000 in the process.
The trip took just under three months and included a two-week hospital stay for Jamie after he was knocked unconscious and suffered eleven cracked ribs, hairline fractures in four vertebrae and a scapula, plus a partially collapsed lung when something spooked his horses while he was handling them on the ground.
“A case of wrong time, wrong place for me,” said Jamie. “I have no idea what [spooked them] and no memory of it.”
One of the horses, mare Millie, also overcame a setback when she knocked a speed bump and sustained minor nerve damage. After rest and treatment, she recovered in time to finish the ride.
Jamie took on the challenge in memory of his brother, PC John Alcock, who was a serving officer with the Grampian Police stationed at Elgin, Morayshire.
John was involved in a road traffic accident while on duty and en route for a shift on Royal Protection at Balmoral. He never regained consciousness and died 14 years later.
As well as online donations, Jamie also offered carriage rides along route in return for a donation. Artwork of the horses, Millie and William, and 12 of their shoes made especially for the trip were also auctioned off.
‘A big, strong lad’
Jamie and his Shires were accompanied by support driver Sam Furnell and Boo Boo the dog. Their trip began on 5 June.
Three weeks in and having reached York, Millie was injured.
“Willam was a star, and pulled everything by himself while Millie walked beside him, not contributing,” said Jamie, who runs Coldcroft Shires. “He knew she wasn’t right and just got on with it. He’s a big, strong lad.”
Millie’s loose shoe was tended to by local farrier Chris Foster and she was checked over by a vet from Minster Equine Vet Clinic, who advised rest.
“Millie needs a few days rest to heal and prevent further aggravation to her shoulder,” said Jamie on his Facebook page at the time. “She is quite adept at dodging work by one means or another!
“Willam is strutting around with an air of heroism about him, telling anyone and everyone was a star he is,” added Jamie.
Unfortunately, Millie went lame again and Jamie made the difficult decision to pull her off the journey.
“She needs a proper rest and I won’t risk her long term wellbeing,” said Jamie, who arranged for the mare to be transported to Beamish Museum, where an extended rest and physiotherapy check-up had already been scheduled into the trip.
However, following a longer rest and treatment from veterinary physiotherapist Hannah Hartop, Millie was given the all-clear to continue.
‘I did little, the horses did lots’
On 12 July, Jamie finished the English leg of the journey and crossed the Scottish border.
At the end of July, Jamie was injured and taken to a hospital in Dundee. Almost a fortnight later, he set off again on 12 August, this time accompanied by his brother-in-law Bruce Rennie.
The trip concluded on 28 August at John’s grave in Morayshire.
“It has been a long road trip and an even longer emotional journey,” said Jamie. “The people I’ve met along the way have been of the highest quality and I’ve been lucky enough to make new friends – a rare event!” said Jamie.
“I did little, the horses did lots and the people of Great Britain made the journey worthwhile.”
John’s fundraising page is still open for donations.