A horse sanctuary's oldest resident has died.

Staff at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Hapton announced that their Welsh pony Willow had passed away on Friday at the remarkable age of 46.

Willow arrived at the charity in 2003 after being rescued by the RSPCA.

She had been living on common land in Wales with little to no human interaction. 

Eastern Daily Press: Willow the Welsh ponyWillow the Welsh pony (Image: Redwings Horse Sanctuary)A spokeswoman at Redwings said: "Over the years she became a friendly and much-loved girl and was a favourite of all those who met her."

"Sadly, on Friday, Willow experienced a sudden and severe colic and though the charity’s expert teams rushed to help and did everything possible for her, staff had to let her go to prevent her from suffering."

Willow had recently celebrated her birthday, enjoying a special cake with fellow horses.

Eastern Daily Press: Willow's birthday partyWillow's birthday party (Image: Redwings Horse Sanctuary)

She received lots of birthday wishes from supporters and BBC Radio Norfolk’s listeners put together a special birthday playlist for her.

Welsh ponies have an average life expectancy of 35, so Willow's age saw the charity contacted by Guinness World Records.

Redwings vet Dawn Trayhorn said: “While Willow's grand age was rare, the specialist care we were able to provide her - thanks to our supporters - played a massive role in her enjoying such a long and healthy life, and I’m so proud to have been a part of that.

Eastern Daily Press: A rainbow was seen over the horse hospital at Redwings on the day Willow passed awayA rainbow was seen over the horse hospital at Redwings on the day Willow passed away (Image: Redwings Horse Sanctuary)“She was so loved by so many, and I feel for everyone who is grieving at this news.

I’ve never known so many people come to say goodbye to a pony.

“It was the first time since we lost foal Phoenix in 2021 that a rainbow could be seen over our Horse Hospital.

“Willow was our most golden of golden oldies and truly one of a kind. We won’t forget her.”

To support Redwings’ work, donations can be made at www.redwings.org.uk