October 2015

Volunteer area coordinators support Shire Horse Society

A charity dedicated to protecting and promoting Shire horses has appointed a string of volunteer area coordinators to help secure the future of the endangered breed.

The volunteers will spread the word about the Shire Horse Society and act as local representatives at events, as well as liaise with members of the charity.

More than a dozen area coordinators have been appointed to cover much of the UK, with more expected to join the team as the project rolls out further afield.

“We have been running a Save Our Shires campaign to raise awareness about Shires for a while now and numbers have steadily increased, thanks to the dedication of a band of enthusiasts. However, fewer than 500 new foals are registered every year by the Shire Horse Society, and Shire horses remain an endangered species, so it’s vital that we build on what we have achieved,” said Shire Horse Society secretary David Ralley-Davies.

“Our Shire Horse Society area coordinators will be a point of contact for people who want to know more about owning a Shire horse or how they can support the Shire Horse Society, and will also help us to have more effective contact with our members.

“We are very grateful to those members who have stepped forward to take on the role.”

The following Shire Horse Society members have been appointed as area coordinators:

  • Robbie Manchester. Robbie, who lives on a small mixed farm in Dearham, Maryport, West Cumbria, with his three daughters and has two stallion Shire horse mares and two Shire geldings. He regularly attends shows, ploughing matches, schools and various open days with his horses. “I am passionate about the breed and honoured to be asked to help support and be part of the breed’s future in this new role,” he said. He is covering the Lake District area.
  • Margaret Threlfall, who is based near Accrington in Lancashire, is covering the North West and Lancashire. “Shire horses play a massive part in my life and I am involved with them every day of my life. The knowledge and respect for the men that have gone before us must be utilised along with fresh ideas and a changing role in modern society to keep our breed alive and thriving, and I hope my role as an area coordinator will go a little way to making this happen,” said Margaret, who owns about a dozen Shires and who works with the Thwaites Brewery Shire Horse Team.
  • Tricia Hurle is the marketing & stables administrator at Wadworth Brewery, in Devizes, Wiltshire. She is covering Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. “I have been working here at the brewery for nearly 11 years, and over that time have become more and more involved with the stables,” said Tricia. “I became their full-time administrator about two years ago and now carry out various (and also very varied!) ‘Shire-related’ duties for the Stables Team, such as ordering feed, bedding, cleaning supplies, harness and anything else that they might need, as well as marketing the ‘boys’ (both horsemen and horses!). I also accompany them on as many pub visits and shows as I possibly can. Our Brewery Visitor Centre has been awarded ‘Shire Horse Society Approved Centre’ status which is a great accolade for us, and which we hope will help promote the breed even further. As one of the last remaining breweries that still use Shire horses to deliver each weekday morning, we are in a unique position to help keep the heritage of the Shire horse alive.”
  • Laura Hagger, who is based in Hertfordshire, on the Herts and Essex border, has a long family history link to Shires. “My great grandfather was the head horsekeeper for the local village farm and so my grandfather, Neville Tofts, became interested as he always helped him out. In 1982 he was fortunate enough to be able to buy his own Shire for him to show. He then started breeding Shire horses and really got into showing as well as judging. In 1988 he managed to win Junior Champion at the Spring Show. My parents helped him out and also became really interested. All three of them have been life members of the Shire Horse Society for over 30 years and they were founder members of the Hertfordshire, Essex and Eastern Counties Associations. After taking a short break from showing but still owning Shires, once my sister and I were born and we were old enough, we decided we wanted to get into it all. I took a really keen interest and successfully took part in many young handler classes. Now being too old, I have started showing in all classes when grandad lets me! Back in 2012 we decided we wanted to bring a show to our area so started up heavy horse classes at the Herts and Essex Country Fair. I have become an Area Coordinator to do my part to help the Society and support with the saving of the magnificent breed, particularly support for our area where there are not so many Shires and not so many shows,” said Laura, who will be covering Hertfordshire and Norfolk.
  • Victoria Clayton, who is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, is covering Yorkshire alongside Nathalie Cross.
    She has been involved with Shires for around 25 years, and has shown at local and county level, and works alongside her father with his breeding programme in Bradford. As a family, they have owned two Horse of the Year-winning Shires and have also qualified several others. She is on the committee for the South West Yorkshire Shire Horse Hiring Society and on a national level, is a member of the council and on the Shire Horse Society’s National Show committee.
    “I jumped at the chance to be an area coordinator as we can be the eyes and ears of the society on the ground, we are able to interact with members and potential new members at local shows and events, as well as passing on important information from the society quickly and efficiently. The breed requires an injection of enthusiasm and new ideas and I feel with myself and the others selected to take on the role of an AC we are able to increase the profile of the breed,” said Victoria.
  • Others appointed include Melanie Teasdale, covering the North East of England, Ron Brewster and Helen Carr, who live in Perthshire, and are the area coordinators for Scotland, Sonia Hayles and Molly Langley, covering Kent, Wendy Toomer-Harlow, covering Essex, Yvonne Simmons, covering Staffordshire, Greg Rawlins, covering the West Midlands, and Val Giles, covering Devon.

The Shire Horse Society, which is based at Rockingham Castle on the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire border, is the only charity dedicated to the protection, promotion and improvement of the Shire horse. Founded in 1878 and originally known as the English Cart Horse Society, the charity annually runs the Shire Horse Society National Show, which is the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses.

To find out more about the charity or to contact the area coordinators visit or telephone 01536 771611.


 Notes to editors:

For more information or to arrange interviews with David Ralley-Davies from the Shire Horse Society, please contact Louise Duffield at Perfect 10 PR.

To contact David directly, call 01536 771611 or 07788 422506.

The Shire Horse Society, whose patron is Her Majesty the Queen, runs the Save Our Shires appeal. Although experiencing a resurgence in popularity, the breed is still endangered with fewer than 500 new foals registered in the UK each year.

Visit to find out how to support the appeal or contact the charity on 01536 771611.

The charity is based at  Shire Farm, Rockingham Castle and Park, Uppingham Road, Rockingham, Market Harborough LE16 8TP

Press release issued by Louise Duffield, Perfect 10 PR.

  1. 0115 8462953 m. 07787 552647 e.





Sue Fox