A retired airline pilot is on cloud nine after winning a top of the range horsebox – even though he’s allergic to horses.
Gallant Paul Webster, 67, entered the competition for the sake of his horse-loving wife, Debbie.
The raffle to win the flagship HBX model from Ifor Williams Trailers – which has factories in Deeside, Corwen and Cynwyd – was organised by the Countryside Alliance who say it was a massive hit with their members.
Luckily, Paul’s tolerance to all things equine has grown throughout the years but it was a very different story when the couple, who have two sons and six grandchildren, first met.
Coming into contact with horses would cause a nasty allergic reaction, including asthma attacks, coughing, sneezing and itchy eyes.
As a result Debbie, sacrificed her passion for horse-riding for many years.
But things changed when they moved to their current home in Swettenham, near Congleton, in Cheshire, 18 years ago.
She explained: “I grew up with horses and then when I married Paul, I stopped riding because he was very allergic to horses.
“It was terrible. He’d have an asthma attack, itchy eyes and so on. It was really horrible. It certainly wasn’t something you’d want to live with.
“If I had been riding, he said I had to strip off by the door. Partly because of that and partly because of life, I didn’t ride for a very long time.
“It was a choice between horses and him – and I chose him!
“Gradually, over the years we noticed his sensitivity was reducing and when we moved to the house where we currently live 18 years ago Paul said I should have a horse again.
“The house had a couple of acres of land and planning permission for stables so, tentatively, I had Chico, a 14.3 hh Cob, on loan to start with to see how it went.
“It’s been fine and to a large extent Paul seems to have outgrown his allergy as long as he doesn’t spend too long in close confinement with them.
“As well as two ponies, we also have Ted, 16.3 hh thoroughbred, that’s ridden by my 16 year old grand-daughter, Grace.
“It’s nice anyway to win a prize but this is amazing. I wasn’t even aware that Paul had entered the raffle so it was an enormous surprise.
“In terms of horse trailers, Ifor Williams Trailers are the best available because they are very robust and they tow beautifully. It’s better for the horses and it’s better for the driver.
“The HBX is our third Ifor Williams trailer. It’s absolutely fabulous and very smart so it will be getting plenty of use.”
Paul added: “The allergy is something I have grown out of. I still can’t spend a lot of time around horses but I can at least help out with mucking out and so forth to a degree.
“I have never won a raffle before so it was an extremely pleasant surprise, as well as being very useful.
“Debbie is thrilled and we are still pinching ourselves so it’s lovely to come here to see it in the flesh so to speak and take it home with us.
“Winning the horsebox has made Debbie very happy and if she’s happy, I’m happy.”
According to Eleasha Sallis, from the Countryside Alliance, they thrilled to secure the HBX horsebox from Ifor Williams Trailers as the main prize for the raffle.
She said: “We were determined to engage with our equine members and we couldn’t think of a better partner than Ifor Williams Trailers.
“We endeavoured to secure this fantastic model and the raffle has been a hit all summer. The campaign has been a real success.
“People were able to see the model at our events over the summer and have a look inside. It’s been really popular.
“Ifor Williams Trailers is a recognised UK brand for horses and it is highly respected and trusted, so it was a perfect partner for us.”
Samantha Williams, a Management Support Specialist at Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “We were delighted to provide the HBX as a prize for the Countryside Alliance’s raffle.
“The vast majority of its equine members are customers of ours, so it was good to be able to give something back.
“It was lovely to meet Debbie and Paul when they came to pick up the horsebox and its clearly going to a good, horse-loving home where it will get a lot of good use now that Paul has outgrown his allergy.”