A MEMORIAL statue dedicated to the millions of horses which served and died during the First World War has been unveiled.

The first memorial of its kind in the country, the statue has been named Poppy by the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows of the UK following a competition, sits atop the Heatherwood Hospital roundabout in Ascot as a tribute to the role the animals played in the conflict.

The Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley and an invited group of Chelsea Pensioners, dignitaries and supporters of the project were in attendance for the official unveiling on Friday, June 8.

A time capsule has been buried beneath the statue, which was designed by sculptor Susan Leyland, containing artefacts reflecting the wider story of the war effort and how animals were used in often gruelling conditions.

Cllr Samantha Rayner, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead's cabinet member for culture and communities, said: “It is an honour for the borough to have the nation’s first memorial solely dedicated to the sacrifice of horses, mules and donkeys during the First World War. This memorial represents the strong bond between humans and horses who fought alongside each other in the Great War.

“Horses and the military both still play huge roles in our borough today and it’s vital we never forget the sacrifices made by those before us, especially the often unmentioned role played by animals.

“I would like to thank all those who helped to make this project a reality and hope residents and visitors to Ascot will take a moment to reflect on the important story behind this memorial.”