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JOE'S FOND FAREWELL; Irish traveller signs over ownership of beloved pregnant pony Ruby.

Byline: DARREN DEVINE

HE loved his pregnant pony so much he tried to take her to hospital on a train... but now traveller Joe has had to part company with his beloved Ruby.

Irish traveller Joe Purcell has signed over his Welsh Section A pony Ruby after she was taken into care for her own safety.

But the 68-year-old has been left contented to know that the mare will be going to a good home once she has given birth - as she will be looked after by the chairman of the North East Wales Bridleways Association, Michelle Crowther.

Michelle said she's known Joe since she bought Irish cob Peggy Sue from him several years ago and will ensure the traveller regularly sees his beloved Ruby.

Forty-one-year-old mum-of-three Michelle, from Wrexham, said: "I knew that she was in foal and when she had her foal she would need somewhere stable to live. Also I think it's important for Joe to keep contact with Ruby because without Joe Ruby is just another pony - she's no longer Ruby the train pony who has done all these interesting things."

These pictures from a yet-to-bebroadcast documentary show Joe, 68, who lives between sites in Wrexham and Ellesmere Port, signing her over to Michelle to ensure she would be well cared for.

Michelle said no cash changed hands for Ruby, Joe was happy knowing she was going to a good home.

WoS understands Wrexham council established Joe as Rugby's legitimate owner after taking her into care.

Concerns were raised when she was left in a field near Wrexham's Maelor Hospital. Joe and Ruby made headlines all over the world when CCTV footage showed them trying to board the Wrexham to Holyhead train in May.

He was also captured on camera taking the pony to Wrexham Maelor Hospital's A&E department and in the town's Elihu Yale Wetherspoons pub.

Joe, who is originally from Tipperary, said he owns cattle and around 180 horses and keeps them near Belfast, Leighton Buzzard in England and in South Wales.

Vets have said Ruby is due to give birth any time now and legal guidelines mean no horse can be moved during the last 10% of its pregnancy.

Michelle said: "Once she's foaled and Ruby and her foal, God willing, are fine, then she can come home."

She not yet decided what to do with Ruby's foal.

Michelle said she tried to get involved because she was struck by Ruby's calm on the platform and in A&E. "I thought, 'What a marvellous pony. What a good ambassador for the Welsh pony'. It's not every horse that would be steady enough to stand on a platform while a train comes in and go up in a lift and do all the weird and wonderful things she did."

A spokesperson for Wrexham council confirmed ownership of the horse had been established. "Ownership of the pony has now been established. The pony is in good health and is being well cared for by the council until she has foaled, which is expected to be in the very near future." * S4C is due to screen the documentary Joe & Ruby, produced by Chwarel with English subtitles, in the last week of this month

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Joe signs over his pony Ruby to Michelle Crowther, of the North East Wales Bridleways Association
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 10, 2011
Words:556
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