On Tuesday 17 December we took the War Horse cast to sing christmas carols for resident war veterans at Broughton House, Salford’s military care home. The residents were also treated to a surprise visit from the star of the show, Joey!
The cast and residents were all visibly moved by the visit and the appearance of Joey, the life size, galloping, breathing puppet horse, who trotted into the care home’s dining room.
Broughton house looks after veterans with war related conditions and complex needs, such as traumatic amputations, dementia and other physical and mental health issues. They have cared for 8,000 ex-army or merchant navy servicemen and women since it opened in 1916.
Here are some photos we took during the visit (they made our hearts melt!)
Resident Ozzy Osborne, an 86 year old Parachute Regiment Veteran of World War 2 said “Joey was fantastic – he looks so real. My father was in the Great War and a member of the Royal Horse Artillery so it was a treat to see the War Horse company. My Dad always did say that the horses were looked after better than the soldiers in the War !”
We’d like to thank Mrs Frances Howard, who recently sent us the photographs below of her grandfather, George Walsh. George was born and brought up in a house on Bury Road, Pendleton and joined the army at the age of eighteen. He served in the Army Service Corps in the occupation of the Rhineland in the immediate aftermath of the First World War and drove a cart pulled by two Clydesdale shire horses. The cart was used for the transportation of supplies and equipment and George was responsible for the general welfare of the animals.
Although Joey is a Hunter, and Topthorne a thoroughbred, these shire horses were suited for pulling heavy loads, like Joey and Topthorne must do on the battlefield in War Horse.
Joe Dark, who plays Topthorne’s Heart in War Horse said of his visit to Broughton House; “It was a really emotional experience hearing the stories that people had to tell, seeing how engaged they were with what we were doing and learning that they had parents that worked with horses in the war. It really showed me why we do what we do as storytellers and to touch these people that have a personal experience of this sort of thing was fantastic.”