A firefighter who changed the face of equine rescue has been awarded a prestigious gong from the Princess Royal for his pioneering work.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Animal Rescue Manager Jim Green, 43, helped develop ground-breaking techniques that saved the lives of thousands of animals and won the team an international reputation.
In a decade the dad of two took the fledging team to such heights he was called upon to speak at Buckingham Palace, lecture at top universities and support equestrian events at the London 2012 Olympics.
He has now won the Sir Colin Spedding Award at the National Equine Forum. He was not able to collect the accolade in person as he is spending a year working with the University of California.
He said: “Incidents involving animals are increasingly recognised by emergency responders as a routine part of the varied risks we face and for which we plan and train to resolve.
“It is amazing how far the rescue initiative has progressed in the past 10 years. I am extremely proud of the part I have played in the journey.
“It has seen me travel across the world, meeting, sharing and learning from incredible people who have all contributed to the enviable position we find ourselves in.
“I’d like to thank Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and my team for allowing me the freedom to develop these initiatives and support the community in the way that we do.
“There is still much to do and this award is a great way of acknowledging what has been achieved and highlighting the job that remains.”
Watch Manager Green helped set up the Safer Horse Rescues initiative launched by the British Equine Veterinary Association and was co-founder of the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA).
The techniques his team have developed have been rolled out nationally. It has also been called upon to give specialist training to vets, police forces and the Household Cavalry as well as the majority of other fire services.
Area Manager Steve Foye said: “Hampshire is a shining beacon in the field of animal rescue and is respected for its expertise all over the world.
“A huge part of its success is down to the hard work of Jim and his team who have been key in developing pioneering techniques and shaping best practice.
“We are extremely proud that one of our firefighters has received this prestigious award and delighted to see them personally recognised for an amazing achievement.”
Memorable incidents from the past decade include a house fire with a menagerie of 150 animals, the rescue of a monitor lizard, dealing with an aggressive badger trapped in a hole and catching a rogue rhea.
A dog trapped in a stair lift, a deer in the water close to Southampton’s Ocean Village and a car crash involving a petting zoo also make the list.
The team has even been called upon to rescue a whales, tarantulas and snakes.
The most common incidents, though, involve horses, which for many people living in rural areas are, nowadays, much-loved pets instead of working animals.
It is equines that have provided Jim with two of the most challenging incidents of his career.
He attended a crash involving two lorries – one of which was carrying 10 polo ponies – on the A303 in July 2013.
His team was able to rescue all seven that were still in a position to be saved.
He said it was also a proud moment when his crew successfully removed three giant shire horses trapped in a bog in Basingstoke.
Jim’s award was presented to Professor Josh Slater, who co-founded Safer Horse Rescues, by Princess Anne, president of the National Equine Forum.