The Kindness of Strangers

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Travel
Tags: , , , ,

1978, Roy, aged 40, father of 4 and happily married, had this restless itch to do something meaningful in life. An old friend of theirs pointed out an amazing 22 acre place on a small hill, at Pontypridd, near Cardiff which was coming up for auction. Having bought the place, cleared it off the squatters who had inhabited the place and the corresponding rubbish and garbage of a place that had not been cleared for over 5 years, Roy & his wife, Angela, settled down to build a place that would become a sanctuary for ponies that have been ill-treated, particularly ponies that are being used in coal pits hauling the carriages

2010, after having exhausted everything that could be done in Cardiff, I ran across the description of the Pit Pony Sanctuary, on the tourist guidebook. No one in Cardiff had any idea about the place except l aon how to reach the station of Pontypridd. A train ride followed by a taxi ride, led to the FForest Uchaf farm (Welsh for farm on a hill atop a forest or something like that) and this was the glorious sight laid out in front of me

View atop Fforest Uchaf

Once inside the farm, Angela was the tour guide and kept providing a running commentary, explaining how they had split the farm into grazing areas for sheep, an area of tall grass, an area for short grass, pond, stables, sty etc. and a fabulous view from the top

Top view

Coming to the ponies themselves, each of them had been very badly treated by their previous owners. Some with broken bones not treated properly leading to lameness, some with scars all over their bodies. Angela & Roy track the ponies, register a case against the owners with proof of ill treatment, buy the ponies and bring them to the sanctuary. Here at the sanctuary, the ponies are given the run of the place and are given time to heal and do what they want. A family friend, who is a vet, come along fairly regularly to do the check up

The couple’s kindness does not just stop at ponies. Last year, when traveling, they had come across a dog which was so badly treated that its permanent behavior was quivering inside the kennel and not come out at all. They adopted the dog and brought it to the farm. The dog named Molly, while still timid, has grown a lot from that experience and is currently running around the farm
The ponies, despite being badly treated, are fairly responsive to the gentle treatment provided at this sanctuary and have all done well at the sanctuary. This was indeed the high point of the Wales tour and easily, among the most inspiring and kind stories that I have come across

Title Source: Heroes Season 2 Episode 4

PS: The return journey was the most interesting part. I was told that it was a good trek downward through the forest and of course, I did take that to realize that I got totally lost in all the undergrowth and the forest, so that when I got out of the forest, it was at the next station rather than the station where I had arrived

The forest into which I descended and got lost

PPS: For further information, check out their website,

  1. Anoop says:

    Awesome da for you to report this kindness , seriously reading this made my day , will appreciate more such posts !!

  2. Manoj Kumar says:

    refreshing…for the ponies and the dog for sure..however a very different post from u…somehow stands out and does not necessarily fit with the title of the blog…nice post.

  3. vinayvasan says:

    @Anoop, thanks da
    @Manoj, Thats the point of being random, one never know wat one is going to do (or post next) including me :).. but thanks da.. it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience

  4. Kavity says:

    Such a nice story 🙂 Really makes me feel good before going to bed! Very un-Vinayish post 😛 Keep it the up 😀

  5. vinayvasan says:

    @Kavity, thanku thanku

  6. Deepa says:

    Amazed !! and Intriguing… how some niche niche thing appeals enough to people to make it their life’s work !!! Very touching…

  7. Sarah says:

    This is so refreshing a read…such wonderful people and lovely locales are the reason the world is still a good place to be in. lucky u vinay, to partake of this lovely place

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