Statue to honour IRA bomb horse

Sefton in 1984
Sefton in 1984

A life-size bronze statue will be unveiled next year of a horse who became a symbol of the struggle against the IRA after surviving the deadly 1982 Hyde Park bomb atrocity.

The sculpture of Sefton, who survived the blast which left seven of his stablemates and four soldiers dead, was commissioned by the Royal Veterinary College.

The college’s artist in residence, Camilla Le May, was tasked with sculpting the black gelding two years ago and has spent six months creating the three quarters of a ton sculpture, which shows him walking briskly.

Ms Le May, 39, from Wadhurst, East Sussex, said today: “I had never done a life-size horse before so the opportunity for me was awesome.

“It was quite a challenge and actually quite nerve-racking, but the response has been overwhelming. It’s not the same as sculpting a famous racehorse because there is so much sadness behind it.

“All the time I spent on it I got quite attached and I feel closer to the story now.”

After joining the Army, Sefton became a riding school horse before joining the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

Following the bombing, and despite 34 separate wounds that required eight hours of surgery, Sefton recovered and was able to return to service where he became famous for battling against the odds.

The animal, who served with the British Army for 17 years from 1967 to 1984, went on to win the Horse of the Year - a prize his rider on the day of the attack, Sergeant Michael Pedersen, picked up on his behalf.

Sefton also became one of the first horses to be placed in the British Horse Society’s equestrian Hall of Fame and has an annual prize named after him.

It is believed his life was saved by a guardsman who ripped off his shirt and used it to stem the flow of blood to his neck wound.

A second blast two hours later in Regent’s Park killed another seven soldiers.

Veterinary surgeons gave Sefton a 50/50 chance of surviving the shock and extreme blood loss, but the brave animal recovered after surgery that saw nearly 30 pieces of shrapnel extracted from his body.

During his treatment Sefton received thousands of gifts from the public and he was back on regimental duty less than three months later.

He finally retired from the Household Cavalry in August 1984 and was moved to a sanctuary in Buckinghamshire. Sefton was put down at the age of 30 in July 1993 due to lameness - a complication of the injuries he suffered during the bombing.

To learn about Sefton’s life, Ms Le May spoke to vets, and those who rode him and cared for him. She also used Ed, an Irish Draught, as a real-life model.

She said: “I was too young to have taken in everything when it happened so I didn’t experience it at the time.” The sculpture will be unveiled at the Royal Veterinary College’s campus in Hawkshead, Hertfordshire, next year.