THERE is a chance to meet the gentle giants - and an endangered species - of the horse world during a special celebration near Caernarfon.

The North Wales Shire Horse Society, now in its 40th year, is celebrating with a family fun day at Brynrefail. The event, between 11am and 4pm, at Bryn Derw Farm, on Sunday, August 25, will give the public the chance to learn about the horses, have a go at carriage riding, logging and pony rides and more.

In December 1978, Shire Horse owners in Abergele contacted the National Shire Horse Society to set up a local society. On Wednesday February 12, 1979 the inaugural meeting took place at the Bee Hotel, Abergele, with just 12 members, who launched the Abergele and District Shire Horse Society.

At the first meeting Derek Williams was elected as chairman, a position he held for 25 year. The society, now known as the North Wales Shire Horse Society, holds events and promotes the Shire Horse and draught breeds. It has more than 100 members across north Wales aged nine to 92.

Recently the group celebrated its 40th birthday with a party re-uniting long serving members. Mr Williams, who cut the cake, is still an active member, and regularly attends agricultural shows, events. Last year, at the age of 75, he successfully bred a shire filly foal.

According to Emma Whittle, the group’s secretary, “His efforts over the years have kept the society going. Sadly many of our original members are no longer with us but their legacy goes on.”

The society regularly holds show preparation, working days, festivals and remembrance parades.

Emma said: “Our annual open day is an important role in the educating and raising awareness of the plight of the shire horse.

“With less than 1,500 registered shires in the world they are on the endangered species list and rarer than the giant panda.”

The society also encourages young handlers.

Emma added: “We have three young ladies aged 9, 11, and 18 on the show circuit and a talented young man, Rhys Griffiths, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, coming up through the ranks, and doing a great job having bred four foals in the past year and two this year.”