Villagers rally to raise funds for a beloved horse

thisisoxfordshire: Ian Simpson and his Shire horse Sampson Ian Simpson and his Shire horse Sampson

SAY the name Ian Simpson to anyone in Horspath and they will tell you, “he loved his horse, his family and the village”.

Now villagers have dug deep to make sure the late Mr Simpson’s family can care for his beloved horse, Sampson.

Mr Simpson died aged 48 in July when an oil drum exploded in the garden of a family member’s house during a celebration.

He had been using an angle grinder to try to turn the 40-gallon oil drum into a bonfire container. He died a few hours later at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

At his packed funeral, donations – which the family say are still pouring in – were welcomed for the Blue Cross animal shelter.

But another collection jar in the name of Sampson the shire horse – placed on the bar at the Queen’s Head – has also seen donations flooding in. The family hope with hundreds of pounds worth of donations they will be able to feed, shoe and stable Sampson for the foreseeable future.

Mr Simpson rescued Sampson when he was around a year old.

His sister Reah Debanks said Mr Simpson had a magic touch with the temperamental horse.

She said: “When Ian would go to the fence and call for Sampson, he would come galloping over.

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“When we call for him, we have to go out over the fields and try and catch him. But he would always come for Ian.”

Horspath Cricket Club raised £250 for Sampson’s upkeep at its annual end-of-season party and then donated £50 of its own money.

Club chairman Peter Walker said: “Everybody knew Ian in the village. He would help anybody out and if anybody wanted support in anything he would be there to support them.”

Ms Debanks said the family were incredibly grateful for all of the donations from the village and from friends all over Oxford.

She said: “We’d just like to say thanks to everyone. Ian loved his horse. This would have meant so much to him.”

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