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Joey comes home

War Horse Valley has welcomed home Joey the foel, a life-size original puppet used to portray the young horse in the National Theatre production of War Horse.

The show ran for eight years in London and toured to eleven countries, winning twenty five awards including the Tony for the best play on Broadway. War Horse's fame spread even further when Steven Spielberg made a film adaptation in 2011, using Devon locations.

The story, first published in 1982 by Michael Morpurgo, is a saga of courage, loyalty and friendship, about a young boy called Albert and his horse Joey caught up in the first global conflict.

Teenager Albert is heartbroken when his beloved companion is bought by the Army and taken off to battle.

Mr Morpurgo, who also lives in Iddesleigh, was inspired to write the book after talking to First World War veterans who drank in the village pub, the Duke of York.

They told him of the farm horses who were "called up" to serve on the front line and who suffered along with the soldiers.

The men included Wilfred Ellis, whose wife is now the final First World War widow still alive in Britain.

Parsonage Farm also supplied horses for the conflict.

"Olive Reynolds, a lady who lives nearby, came here not long ago and told us that her father worked on the farm and took away a horse with him when he went to war," said Mr Ward.

The farm has exhibitions on War Horse and Iddesleigh in the First World War – and "our very own Joey – with the markings just like in War Horse".

The puppets used in the stage play were made by the Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa.

Although the original foal is now in retirement at the farm in Iddesleigh, War Horse will return, the National Theatre has announced.

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