Princess Anne unable to unveil IRA bomb attack statue

image captionCamilla le May's statue of Sefton "captures his spirit"

The royal unveiling of a statue of a horse that survived an IRA attack had to be cancelled after Princess Anne's helicopter was grounded by fog.

Lord Ballyedmond had to step in to reveal the life-size bronze of Sefton, injured by the 1982 Hyde Park bomb.

Sefton served with the British army from 1967 to 1984, surviving the attack that killed four soldiers and seven horses in the London park.

The statue, by Camilla Le May, is at the Royal Veterinary College, Herts.

Sefton was put down at the age of 30 in July 1993, after complications caused by injuries suffered during the bombing.

The blast, on 20 July 1982, came when a nail bomb in a car was detonated as members of the Household Cavalry made their way to Changing the Guard from their barracks in Knightsbridge.

Thousands of gifts

Less than two hours later, another bomb planted under a bandstand in Regent's Park killed seven army bandsmen.

image captionThe bomb exploded as the Household Cavalry rode through Hyde Park to Changing the Guard

The IRA admitted responsibility for both bombs, which left dozens of people wounded.

Following the attack, and despite 34 wounds that required eight hours' surgery, Sefton recovered and was able to return to regimental duty within three months.

During his treatment, Sefton received thousands of gifts from the public and he became famous for battling against the odds.

Many people who knew and rode Sefton provided detailed briefings to help Le May capture the horse's character and spirit for the statue, which is at the college in North Mymms.

The 39-year-old sculptor, from Wadhurst, East Sussex, said: "It was fascinating to talk to those who rode and knew Sefton and this, along with studying old photos, enabled me to find out some of his individual traits, such as the way he often tilted his head, looking back over his shoulder, which I chose to represent in the work.

Hall of Fame

"He was, by all accounts, a strong character and quite a handful, especially in his youth. Perhaps it was partly this strength of character that helped him pull through his appalling injuries."

image captionThe statue of Sefton was officially unveiled at the Royal Veterinary College by Lord Ballyedmond

Sefton was an Army riding school horse before joining the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

He became one of the first horses to be placed in the British Horse Society's equestrian Hall of Fame and after retiring in 1984 went to live in the Home of Rest for Horses, a sanctuary near Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, with two other horses that survived the blast.

The statue, at the Royal Veterinary College's Hawkshead Campus, was commissioned to honour one of the college's longest-serving senior academics, Prof Peter Lees, who retired in 2010.

It was funded by honorary fellow Lord Ballyedmond, who stepped in for Princess Anne.

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