THE actor Martin Clunes was presented with a special commendation at the National Equine Forum (NEF) on behalf of The British Horse Society, the Blue Cross, HorseWorld, Redwings, the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare.

The commendation was in recognition of the unique collaborative work that these charities have undertaken to help the horses and ponies that are suffering in Britain’s emerging horse crisis.

Economic downturns spare almost no one, but they tend to hit the most vulnerable first, and such is the case with Britain’s horses and ponies at the lowest end of the market.

There are an estimated 6,000 horses and ponies at risk of needing rescuing this winter and, as a direct result of this, these six charities have pulled together to ask the government and the public to help man’s other best friend in this time of great need.

Martin Clunes accepted a bronze sculpture by Belinda Sillars on behalf of the six charities.

The bronze was originally to have been awarded to the late Professor Sir Colin Spedding, in recognition of his services to the equine sector – most especially for his extraordinary commitment in founding the National Equine Forum and then being such an effective and amusing chairman of the forum for 19 years.

Miles Williamson Noble, convener of the NEF, explains: "Sir Colin sadly passed away in December last year. I know that he would have liked to have presented this commendation himself.

"Those who knew him will remember that, as well as Chinese proverbs, he loved sStag beetles, and like horses, stag beetles are of course very formidable and useful creatures."

Martin Clunes was nominated to receive the commendation on behalf of the charities because of his dedication, hard work and determination to inspire a passion for and improve the lot of the horse in the UK.