The Alton White Horse might now be called the 'Alton Whiter Horse', as a major operation by volunteers and friends yesterday ended in resounding success.
At the eastern end of the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, on Milk Hill, just to the north of the villages of Alton Barnes, Alton Priors and Honeystreet, is a very striking White Horse. The original White Horse, cut in 1785, eventually fell into neglect, and by the early 1930’s was no longer visible. The existing White Horse, on virtually the same site as its predecessor, was cut in 1812 by local landowner Robert Pile for the sum £20.
It is ten years since this landmark was refreshed with new chalk, and it has slowly taken on a rather ‘greyish’ tinge in recent times. But this has now changed, and the White Horse is white once more.
Miss Molly Sutherland (aged 11), a Year 6 student at Woodborough C of E Primary School wanted to give something back to the community that had supported the school before the Year 6 students moved on to various Secondary schools, so Molly decided that the time had come to give the White Horse its first major makeover in ten years. So, her father, Rob Sutherland, and his friend, Steve Napier (also chairman of Woodborough Parish Council), together with Molly and her brother William (aged nine), combined their skills of asking for favours to give the White Horse a thoroughly deserved facelift.
Asking and calling in favours in a multitude not seen since The Godfather (though thankfully in a rather more positive spirit), they managed to gather the support they needed. Thanks to the generosity of Lovell Partnerships Ltd for paying for more than 40 tonnes of chalk, to MAC Constructing Limited for delivering it to Alton Barnes, to Airbus Defence & Space for funding the 1 tonne bags, to Wiltshire Concrete for providing a driver and machine to bag up the chalk and Northdoor plc for providing specially designed high visibility vests with the White Horse emblem emblazoned on them (and this list does not count all the generous supporters besides), the team was all ready to go . And sure enough, at 16:00 on Monday the 29th of July a very large and impressive Chinook heavy lift helicopter arrived and duly moved all the chalk up the hill and onto the White horse – all courtesy of the Royal Air Force’s Joint Helicopter Command.
Waiting up the hill by the White Horse was a stalwart band of volunteers ready to spread the chalk, who were led in fine style by a good number of Molly’s fellow year 6 pupils from Woodborough C of E School who had turned out in full to mark the end of their primary school days and leave a lasting mark on their community.
And so, as the White Horse gained a new lease of life, watched by a large turnout of people from the local Vale of Pewsey villages (and, indeed, from much further afield), three rousing cheers were given for the generous donors, supporters, and volunteer spreaders themselves.