Military Horse Statue Unveiled at Royal Veterinary College

A life-sized statue of a military horse that survived a terror attack in London, England, was unveiled earlier this month at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

The horse, Sefton, suffered terrible injuries in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, which killed seven military horses and four soldiers. An Irish Republican Army nail bomb was detonated during the changing of the guard, striking the formation of horses and their riders.

Sefton received 34 separate injuries in the attack but recovered and served with the British Army for two years after the incident; he survived until 1993. As the most severely injured surviving horse, Sefton's story of recovery captured the nation's hearts and he came to symbolize the resilience that is characteristic of the armed forces.

The bronze statue was unveiled Oct. 16 by RVC Honorary Fellow and Chairman of Norbrook, Lord Ballyedmond, at the RVC’s Hawkshead campus in North Mymms, Hertfordshire.

Lord Ballyedmond funded the statue to honor the lifetime achievements of one of the RVC's longest serving senior academics Peter Lees, PhD, CBiol, FiBiol, Dr hc (Gent), Hon Assoc RCVS, Hon Fellow ECVPT, who retired in 2010. Lees is known for his extensive studies of phenylbutazone and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and was involved in the development of equine models for a variety of conditions, including degenerative joint disease (DJD), the biochemistry of cartilage matrix turnover, and the role of interleukin-1 in DJD.

Sefton's statue sits outside the RVC's Teaching and Research Centre, which houses the pharmacology laboratory where Lees worked. The statue stands in the place where the Sefton Equine Hospital once stood, a facility now relocated in new equine services elsewhere on the campus.

Many who knew and rode Sefton were involved in the creation of the work of art, providing the detailed briefings necessary for the artist Camilla Le May to capture the character and spirit of a great horse.

“As a symbol of resilience and recovery Sefton really is an inspiration and will live long in the memory of those who knew him,” said RVC Principal Stuart Reid, BVMS, PhD, DVM, Dipl. ECVPH, FRSE, MRCVS. “I would like to thank the generosity of our friend Lord Ballyedmond for his kind donation in recognition of our esteemed colleague Professor Lees that has enabled us to create this statue in memory of a great horse.”

Lord Ballyedmond added, “I am pleased to be able to offer my support to honour the work of Professor Peter Lees. The statue of Sefton will seal Peter’s place in history for his advancement of pharmacology and unwavering dedication to research.”

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