When vets were faced with a seriously ill mare in a “critical situation”, it was touch-and-go as to whether or not she would live.

But thanks to a generous donation from a heavy horse named Rourke, the piebald named Coral has made a miraculous recovery.

Arriving at Redwings Horse Sanctuary as part of a welfare case, Coral arrived in its care with low weight.

And after staff quickly noticed some redworm larvae, she began to deteriorate quickly and needed urgent supportive care.

Redwings veterinary surgeon, Dawn Trayhorn, oversaw Coral’s care. She said: “Coral was losing protein from her intestines. It was a critical situation, and we could have lost her.”

And that is where Rourke came in.

As a healthy, heavy horse on no medication, the Irish Draught cross gelding was the perfect plasma donor for Coral.

Ms Trayhorn, who also oversaw the donation, said: “Coral wouldn’t have survived without the intensive care she was given, and the plasma from Rourke was vital in getting her to turn the corner.

“Coral is now doing great. She’s back at Redwings Caldecott Visitor Centre, in Fritton, with her group of friends and hopefully can be rehomed at some point in the future.

“Rourke did really well during the procedure and had lots of TLC and yummy dinners afterwards, before being returned to his friend group too. He’s a real animal hero.

“It’s amazing when we’re able to save a life. The whole team pulls together in situations like this. It’s difficult, but also what we’re here for. Coral and Rourke are very special to us.”

Their heartfelt story comes just ahead of the closing date for the first Animal Hero of the Year Award category as part of the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards 2022.

The Eastern Daily Press created the new category after receiving several nominations for Redwings’ Phoenix last year but having no suitable category to award the pony.

The Animal Hero of the Year Award, sponsored by Redwings, will recognise non-human heroes and celebrate the selflessness of animals who, without expectation of something in return, enrich, assist and support the daily lives of those who love them.

Nominations are open until Sunday, October 16. For more information, and to make your nomination, visit starsofnorfolk.co.uk