A WIDNES community group has started work on commemorating two much-loved animals whose deaths provoked hundreds of messages of support.

Birchfield Ward Community Associationare hoping to create a commemorative meadow for horses Heather and Sniffs.

The project plans to introduce a friendship bench as well as the meadow outside a field on Queensbury Way where the pair used to graze before they had to be put down in July 2020.

The GoFundMe for the community meadow project has hit the £2,500 goal but are still aiming higher.

Volunteers, including the chair of the association John Powell, 68, have already cleared the undergrowth surrounding the field outside Cronton garden centre.

The loss of Heather and Snaffs came as a shock to Upton Rocks residents.

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The owner of the two horses, Michelle Owen, 51, said she got “hundreds and hundreds of messages” after their death, adding that they were “nice messages, all genuine. People really told a story.”

Mrs Owen said: “Heather was five when we got her and was 16 when she died. Snaffs was four and 27. Heather was very loving, if I was in pain she’d put her head on me. Snaffs was naughty as a youngster, he then grew into the most amazing, loving and protective pony. They taught our grandkids how to ride”

According to the treasurer of the Birchfield Ward Community Association, Sharon Jardine, 54, the community meadow project is just the start of a series of plans across the Birchfield Ward.

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Mrs Jardine said: “We’re hoping to put a long nature trail the whole length of the Upton Rocks area, planting trees, adopting benches. Things that would brighten the area all the way down Queensbury Way to make it really nice.

“Upton Rocks and Heather and Staffs were symbiotic, when there were fireworks you were worried. Upton Rocks had two horses, they were our community.”

When asked why the Birchfield Ward Community Association wants to add community areas around Upton Rocks is to help improve people’s mental health.

Ms Jardine said: “One thing we were clear on is mental health and trying to get community involvement. What we didn’t realise until they (Heather and Snaffs) were gone is the impact they had been to so many people.

“It’s not just me and John’s partnership, it’s about the community and that’s all that matters.

“John and I are not on the same page at all when it comes to party politics but we are when it comes to community.”

John Powell, who has lived in Upton Rocks for over 40 years, has plans to add benches to a lot of the greenery across the Birchfield Ward as well as plans to reincorporate a lot of the ponds and the streams that have become overgrown. Mr Powell described the water features as “largely unknown”.

He first became engaged in community involvement after a spate of vandalism in the summer of 2019.

“There was a lot of anti-social behaviour in Upton Rocks park and I decided to get involved in trying to sort that out and trying to coordinate some of the residents who had similar concerns to form a community group,” he said.

“We had a couple of meetings but it sort of lost impetus and floundered because there was no real project that we could lock into to actually create the stimulus for the group. In conjunction with that, I started to walk around every day in the Birchfield community ground areas picking up litter.

“I started to try and support the council in the efforts to keep the Birchfield Ward looking as best as it could and in that process I set up the Birchfield Ward Community Association to give people a vehicle to get a cohesion with like minded residents. There’s a couple of people who have joined in but largely speaking it’s me out there who is doing voluntary work.”

When it comes to fundraising, Mrs Owen has been putting her talents to good use.

She said: “When winter came I was just a bit lost, so I started to make memory bears out of resin for people who have lost their babies or pets and add the ashes into the bears, or flowers from a funeral arrangement.

“I wouldn’t charge for them, I just ask them to donate whatever they want to the GoFundMe, I do it for my own sanity. It’s doing really well and I’m really happy. I’m hoping that they will make enough.”

In regards to the amount of money raised, Jardine added: “We are delighted to have reached the target, but there is still so much to cover. We are raising it to £3,000 and every pound is going a long way.”

To help contribute to the community meadow project, you can find a link to the GoFundMe and the Birchfield Ward Community Association Facebook page if you want to volunteer.