A horse owner has been reunited with her beloved pony she owned as a child 20 YEARS ago – after spotting him at a rehoming centre by chance.
Naomi Baskerville , 26, first met Shetland pony ‘John Willy Parker’ at a local riding school when she was just six-years-old.
Two years later she took him as her own and visited him as often as she could after keeping him in a field by her home in Stafford.
But by 14, she was outgrowing him and school work got in the way of visiting, so she decided to give him to a younger girl who kept him at a nearby riding school.
During that time Naomi said she was left heartbroken and regretted giving up John Willy, believing she had made a “terrible mistake”.
Unbeknown to Naomi the animal had developed health problems and was given to Blue Cross pet charity in 2005.
During a chance visit to the charity over 12 years later she was stunned to see a picture of John Willy on a poster at the centre.
He had been rehomed in Scotland but months later the owners gave him back to the Blue Cross, prompting them to give Naomi a call.
Delighted Naomi said she didn’t think twice about taking him back and she has now been reunited with her childhood pal.
She said: “When it hit me that I would probably never see John Willy again I was devastated.
“It is the biggest regret of my life.
“I thought I would never get over the loss of my old friend and I was miserable for months”.
Her mum took her along to an open day event at the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Rolleston-on-Dove, Staffs.
Naomi added: “As soon as I saw his picture I just burst out crying.
“Mum persuaded me to chat to the charity’s team to see if anyone remembered him but I was worried he may have died since the picture was taken.
“I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to ask, they all knew him and remembered his cheeky character.
“Happily he was alive and well and living with a family in Scotland, they even had pictures of him with his new family.”
Just a few months later and Naomi got a call from the centre to say John Willy was back in their care.
Naomi took him back along with a companion called Woody and she can now see the pair from her bedroom window.
Maria Kavanagh, horse welfare co-ordinator at Blue Cross in Rolleston said: “I remember John Willy very well.
“He was the cheekiest little pony.
“He could be quite aloof with all of us, but when he was with Naomi it was obvious they have a wonderful deep bond.
“We are delighted they have been reunited after all these years.
“Fate has brought them back together.”