Penny Farm has been given the royal seal of approval for its work to rescue and rehome hundreds of horses.
Her Royal Highness Princess Anne flew into Blackpool yesterday to revisit the World Horse Welfare centre which she opened back in 2001.
She praised the centre’s work to take in more than 500 horses over the last 13 years, and rehome almost as many, while working to educate people about equine welfare.
The Princess Royal, who is president of World Horse Welfare, then addressed a marquee of 100 guests and staff, congratulating them on the centre’s success.
She said: “It’s a real pleasure to be here and see how much it’s moved on.
“It’s nice to be able to reflect on the difference it’s made.
“Some would say the animals are jolly lucky to end up here and I’d have to agree.
“To have improved the venue to allow us to rehome so many horses is a credit to everyone who works here. I have huge respect for you.
“And we’ve been able to achieve an awful lot more because of people’s generosity.”
Centre visitor officer Zoe Clifford said: “It’s nice to show off Penny Farm to visitors generally but you can’t get a more special visitor really.
“She was great, really down to earth and asking questions that were really relevant.”
After a tour of the facilities, which include a newly installed isolation unit to care for neglected horses as well as stables, paddocks and an education centre, Princess Anne met with staff, volunteers and young horse riders.
Mandy Davidson, a groom, from Blackpool, said: “She was very interested in how the farm had changed.”
Fellow groom Hannah Brown, also from Blackpool, added: “It’s quite important she’s aware of what we do and it does mean a lot to us for her to visit. We’re proud to show off our work.”
10-year-old Emily May Eaton, who rides thanks to the Play Inclusion Project for disabled youngsters, presented the royal with a handmade card after chatting to her about riding.
She said: “She was nice,
“I was very excited about her visiting.”