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Thursday, 3 November 2011

New Forest Ponies don’t dent they die

Drivers along the B3054 (between Lymington and Dibden Purlieu) are being reminded to drive carefully and avoid New Forest ponies thanks to a school boy’s winning slogan.

Oliver Smith’s ‘Ponies don’t dent they die’ was chosen from 200 entrants to a recent ‘Saving ponies through art’ competition which aimed to get young people involved in creating clear messages to drivers across the New Forest.

From left to right- Nigel Matthews, Community and Visitor Services Manager  at the New Forest National Park Authority, Oliver Smith from Bournemouth Collegiate School, Jonathan Gerelli, Head Agister and Rick Manley, Chairman of The New Forest Trust
Nigel Matthews, Community and Visitor Services Manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The signs between Lymington and Dibden Purlieu are part of a pilot scheme. The messages on the bottom of the signs change regularly depending on the time of year.

‘The B3054 has one of the highest animal accident rates in the New Forest, with an average of 30 accidents (14 animal deaths) in recent years. The accidents often take place at night and increase in November and December as the nights draw in. I hope this new sign will remind drivers that they need to be ready to stop when they see ponies and cattle beside, or on the road.’

Rick Manley, Chairman of The New Forest Trust which ran the competition on behalf of the Animal Accident Reduction Group*, said: ‘This competition has helped young people to engage with some of our work across the New Forest and we hope it has allowed them to explore, through their designs, ways of protecting our animals and our local environment. Well done to Oliver for coming up with such a powerful slogan.’

Oliver Smith (13 years old) from Bournemouth Collegiate School who designed the winning slogan, said: ‘I came up with the slogan when I thought about what happens to ponies and drivers during a crash. When I went to the New Forest Show in the summer I was shocked at how fast some people were driving with ponies so close by. It is worrying to think that if a pony attempted to cross the road it would have little chance of survival if it was hit by a speeding car.’

In 2010 there were 65 animal deaths on New Forest roads, the lowest since records began in 1956.

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