Just in case anyone is wondering – this software has a mind of its own – adding and removing paragraphing in a random way!So back to yesterday and okay – I was late again!  I woke late at 8.00 after having completed Friday’s blog at sometime past midnight, but my lateness on the Horse was nothing to do with the fact that it was drizzling outside and the hill was wreathed in mist (honest!).  No, I had to edit and upload the photos and send the blog to Michael to upload.

So it was 9.30ish as I crossed the fields and I could see the cadets of B Company ACF already hard at work on the horse. I approached from the east, hoping that a diagonal climb would be easier, and surprised a pair of Roe deer who bounded up the hill as if gravity didn’t exist. As usual, it did for me….I found the chute (apologies for yesterday’s spelling) well advanced, but early testing showed that a re-think was necessary, as the volume successfully transported was low and the velocity rather high!

The cadets were just back from a three-day exercise, so there was an element of fatigue, but in spite of this they were stuck into the task. The Horse’s tail was theirs and one section soon had the gravel raked down to the bottom. The rest worked on the body – shifting the deepening mass of gravel down to the belly of the Horse.

Up on the Monument I met John Hayes who has a small team looking after all the key sites from Poole Harbour to the Devon border.  John has been tending the White Horse for nineteen years with annual visits with volunteer groups so it is very close to his heart.  He has been one of the prime movers in this project and his “popping in” today turned into a full day of hard labour.  And as he was able to give me the authority to help, I was able to get officially very dusty too!

Also up on the Horse were Lt Col. Gordon Davies, Commandant of the Dorset ACF and Major John Bradshaw  who were already planning the next moves and how they could continue to help after next Tuesday.  

After a break for lunch, I walked back in good time and met Mr and Mrs Critchell, the farmer whose land we were crossing.  It is astonishing how much goodwill is involved in making this project work, and without the help of the Critchells, none of this would be happening.

Traffic gridlock in Weymouth meant that the afternoon team from B Company, were a bit late. These were the younger members and they decided to complete the Horse’s tail by forming a bucket chain from the gravel pile at its base to some of the bags kindly donated by Aggregate Industries Ltd at Warmwell Quarries.

It was fascinating to watch the young cadets developing their teamwork. When they were finally in a line, it seemed that every member had a grievance and a point to make.  Shouting was the norm and from some way above we could hear arguments raging along the line.  Then suddenly (thanks to the lady officer in charge “getting cross” as she put it) it began to work.  Silence reigned for a while as the gravel was steadily shifted and then they began to sing.  It was rather like tuning in an old radio, where different music stations would come and go as one turned the dial.  At one end “Old MacDonald held sway, but as one scanned the line, “We are the Champions”, YMCA and even, from one cadet “Happy Birthday” could be heard!

John Hayes and I worked alone on the body gravel.  The wind made it essential to work some way apart to avoid each other’s dust, but we steadily moved the pile down towards the bottom, shifting tons of the stuff between us, and both finding muscles we didn’t know we had!

On the way home I took my usual photo and eagerly compared it with the same photo from the end on the morning shift. All those tons from two of us hardly seemed to register, bringing home the fact that the cadets have worked a minor miracle.

And then I met a lady from Osmington walking her dog.  After explaining what we were doing she said that she had seen the Horse from the bus yesterday and thought it was looking much better. Well that’s a result I thought! 

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