St Catherine's Hospice rocking horse's unusual family history

It's a horse with a history!

By Jenny Simpson
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 12:30 pm

A grandma who snapped up a beautiful rocking horse from a charity shop has dug into its history - and found it was made by a motor mechanic for his wife.

Sandra Cunningham had been searching for a great quality rocking horse for her first grandchild Sophia, so she was delighted when she heard that one was on display in The Mill Gift Shop in St Catherine’s Park – a new charity shop run by the hospice in its grounds in Lostock Hall.

Now she was so bowled over by the item that she turned detective - and has now uncovered its origins after St Catherine’s spoke with the family who donated the unique item to help raise funds for the cause.

Sandra Cunningham with Sophia and the rocking horse

David Anderton, from Ashton, explained: “My dad Fred made the rocking horse as a Christmas present for my mum about 20 years ago. It’s actually part of a set of three; my sons have the other two and we’d like to keep them in the family. My parents have both died so we decided to donate this one to charity along with other possessions from the house.

“It has real horse hair and a leather seat, and even had a tape recorder under its belly which used to play horse sounds; he spent a lot of time on it. Dad just loved making things. He was a motor mechanic by trade but his hobby was marquetry and he made all sorts in his shed like clocks, tables, and decorative wooden fruit and dishes.

“I’m really glad that it’s raised money for St Catherine’s and has gone to a good home.”

Sandra said: “My daughter Michelle has grown up with horses; we’ve had some since she was little and she’s been showing them since she was three. Now that she’s become a mum herself to Sophia, I wanted to get my granddaughter something special to grow up with too.

“I said I wouldn’t buy a pony for her in case Michelle doesn’t want that for her, but I joked I might get her a rocking horse instead and I’ve been looking for a really good quality one which can be handed down through the family.”

She added: “St Catherine’s holds a very special place in my heart because my mum used to volunteer making crafts to raise funds, and she was cared for in the hospice in March and April last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“The fact that the rocking horse has come from St Catherine’s means a lot, as it feels like it’s in memory of my mum.

“My sister was at The Mill café recently and saw the rocking horse in the new gift shop window. She sent me a photo and I knew straight away it was exactly what I’d been looking for. It’s beautiful.

“My husband had been doing some research to try and figure out what company made it and where it has come from, so to learn that it was hand-made and donated by the family who cherished it for all those years makes it even more special and sentimental.

“I know that Sophia will get a lot of joy out of it when she’s older, and will ride it and play with it – we’ll take such good care of it.”

St Catherine’s has a range of charity shops and online retail channels with the intention of selling items generously donated in the most effective and profitable way. The shops generate vital income to help raise the £5.8m needed every year to deliver specialised palliative and end-of-life care for local people.

There are 16 shops across Preston, Chorley and South Ribble, including dedicated furniture, book, bridal and occasion-wear, children’s-wear, fashion boutiques, and gift shops, and the charity also sends some donations to auction. Online, St Catherine’s runs a Facebook Shop, eBay page, website shop and Depop site.

Visit or follow @StCatherinesShops on social media to find your nearest shop, browse the online stores, and for details about donating.

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