Youngsters came face to face with a Gold Cup-winning racehorse during a magical meet-and-greet at The Nook.
The visit was organised by Godolphin – the world’s largest thoroughbred horseracing and breeding team – who are corporate supporters of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
They brought ex-racehorse Papineau to meet children and families receiving care and support from EACH.
The 2004 Ascot Gold Cup winner is part of a special retraining programme and, due to his calm, gentle and patient personality, has previously visited schoolchildren and hospital patients.
David Bartholomew, EACH Head of Philanthropy and Partnerships, said: “This visit meant so much to the children and families, as well as our staff.
“We’re so grateful to Godolphin for their continued support and especially for coming just before Children’s Hospice Week. The visit couldn’t have gone better and was brilliant and exciting from start to finish. A real triumph.
“It was also moving at times, seeing the children’s reactions. They were thrilled and for them to have the chance to touch, feel and even smell such a magnificent animal was genuinely heart-warming.
“Whether you’re a horse-lover or not, you couldn’t help but be moved and we’re so grateful for the opportunity to host such a special, feelgood event at our hospice.”
The visit was open to all families receiving care and support from EACH and took place at The Nook, in Framingham Earl. Siblings and grandparents also came along and enjoyed meeting Papineau, who was ridden to Gold Cup glory by EACH Ambassador Frankie Dettori.
Play Specialist Clare Oakley said: “It was amazing and very special to see the looks and beaming smiles on children’s faces. For them to be so close to such an amazing animal was wonderful to watch.
“Families face real challenges but this was something they could enjoy together. To share such an incredible experience, and have the photos, videos and memories, is something they will treasure forever.”
After retiring, Papineau joined Godolphin’s rehoming scheme, which forms part of its charitable programme created by founder His Highness Sheikh Mohammed.
Now an ambassador for the programme, he is based at Woodditton Stud, in Newmarket.
“It was such a privilege to be able to work with EACH to deliver such a fabulous experience for the children and families supported by this wonderful charity,” said Penny Taylor, Godolphin’s UK Charities Manager.
“It was a truly magical day with Papineau demonstrating the true versatility of the thoroughbred. On behalf of everyone at Godolphin, thank you for allowing us to help create some very special memories.”
A special film about the visit was shown during ITV’s Royal Ascot coverage yesterday. To watch it, click here. Papineau visited on Saturday (17th June) and Children’s Hospice Week got underway on Monday (19th June). It runs until Sunday (25th June).
Pictures: Karen Self/EACH