The Suffolk Punch Trust
In 2002 the Suffolk Punch Trust was established to save the Colony Stud of Suffolk Punch horses. The Prison Service had decided to sell the farm, and the group of horses, bred for more than 200 years on this site, were too important to lose as there are fewer than 500 Suffolk Punch horses worldwide. And so the project began.
Children from deprived inner city areas have been visiting the Stud for twenty years, so the Trust also serves as an educational charity.
Other aims include the conservation of domestic rare breeds, and the provision of open space for the benefit of all: a cameo of Suffolk’s rural and agricultural history.
Our Supreme Champion stallion, Besthorpe Achilles, is used to produce beautiful examples of the Suffolk breed: huge, sweet natured and willing, deep bodied and powerful. Our horses are sought after to preserve this endangered breed.
We are proud that the Suffolk “Trinity” are showcased here: Suffolk Horses, Red Poll cattle and Suffolk Sheep. Large Black pigs, another endangered breed, are flourishing here. Eleven years on we have made substantial progress. Tireless fundraising generated enough money to build a splendid Visitor Centre which opened in 2010. Here you will find the Museum, education and conference rooms, and the Suffolk Punch Café. We open from Easter until the end of October and visitors come to enjoy the animals and regular events throughout the summer. Our highlight on June 30th is the 2nd Punch Run and Gathering, vintage and steam vehicles from all over the UK combining with horse events on the theme “Harnessing Horse Power”.
2013 sees a lively programme of events, clinics and educational activities to attract family visits throughout the summer. We kick off on Good Friday, 29th March with an Easter Family Fun weekend. We will introduce our new Pets’ Paddock where children can stroke and feed small animals. Details are on our website.
Throughout the summer our team of working geldings are in demand throughout the region at shows and displays, harnessed to magnificent parade wagons. They demonstrate their ceremonial presence from the fields of Suffolk to the Lord Mayor’s show in the City of London. Their services in gleaming ceremonial harness are booked for weddings, funerals and brewery promotions, and they travel far and wide.
As a charity we are always looking for ways to fund our work, and we have a programme of group visits, school visits and training days when people can learn how to work with heavy horses. We also have a large network of “Friends” who can join us for as little as £20.00 a year and an Adoption Scheme which has proved a huge success since its introduction last summer.
We manage with a very small number of staff, supported by a superb team of Volunteers, men and women who help with all aspects of running the Trust. There is another team tending the new Suffolk Heritage Garden, stocked with plants and trees native to or developed in Suffolk over the centuries. Anyone interested please ring or email us.
Our aim is that people may understand more about a way of life which has almost disappeared from our countryside, where schoolchildren rode the huge horses back from the fields at the end of their working day, and helped with harvest. Many of our older visitors are filled with nostalgia when they visit us, remembering their childhood during the last war, the hardship, the camaraderie, their affinity with a working horse.
We offer the warmest welcome to all age groups. Our enthusiasm is infectious – join our effort to save this engine of the county’s early prosperity: the iconic Suffolk Punch.