A trailer firm has come to the rescue of an unusual beast – Charlotte the fibreglass dairy cow.
Ifor Williams Trailers responded immediately to the plea from a charity who wanted to transport Charlotte around schools to help teach children where food comes from.
The purposely built bovine has been made for the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET).
She even has replica working udders which are filled with water and milk powder to allow schoolchildren to perfect the art of milking.
Volunteers had no idea how they were going to move the cow around Edinburgh and Lothian schools until Thomas Sherriff & Co Ltd, based in Coldstream, which distributes Ifor Williams Trailers, stepped in and offered to find the perfect transport, courtesy of a funding donation from the Scottish National Farmers’ Union.
Charlotte has been built on top of a bespoke skateboard to make access in and out of the schools easier.
The Ifor Williams Trailers’ horsebox was the ideal candidate for the job and to ensure Charlotte stays on the road and continues to deliver important messages to children about farming and food preparation, Thomas Sherriff & Co also pledged to provide the trailer’s annual service and repair work free of charge.
The offer couldn’t have been more welcomed by trust volunteers who are all full or part-time farmers and donate their time free of charge to help youngsters understand farming.
Former primary school and history teacher Jane Sanderson, whose farm is based in Pathhead, Midlothian, said: “We’re so pleased. Thomas Sheriff and Ifor Williams Trailers went out of their way to find a trailer for us that we could afford and then offered to provide a free overhaul once a year to keep her on the road which is fantastic.
“We had no trailer for a while and without the trailer we were going nowhere. It’s great to now be able to wheel her around freely.
“We held a competition to name the cow and Charlotte won hands down. She sits on a skateboard which is amusing to the children. It means we can wheel her in and out of schools easily.”
RHET was established in 1999 as an education charity providing learning opportunities about farming and food production, the outdoors and the countryside.
Jane added: “Charlotte has a rubber udder underneath and you can fill her up and the schoolchildren can learn to milk.
“The children learn more if they can see something interactive, especially the younger ones. We teach them about dairy farming, about making butter and of course about the general welfare of the animals.
“All the children want to do is milk Charlotte. The older children are still fascinated with milking a cow and all the teachers want to have a go too.
“We fill the udder with water and milk power and sterilise her after each use to make sure it doesn’t clog up.
“We try to bring the children out to the farms afterwards so they’re really getting a feel for where their food comes from.”
The charity attends around 50 schools each year and most volunteers are from a teaching or farming background or both.
Donald Jack, trailer centre manager at Thomas Sherriff & Co in Coldstream, said: “We’re very happy to be involved in anything that helps children to understand agriculture,” said the grandfather of one, who has been working with Thomas Sherriff & Co for the past 33 years.
“RHET is a charity I’ve been involved in for quite some time. Jane and her husband have used the company for a long time and I was delighted to be able to help source a trailer for the charity. A friend of mine also has a signage business which provided the plaques for the trailers at a greatly reduced cost.
“It has been one of the strangest reasons we’ve had for someone wanting a trailer but it’s very interesting. It’s really important that children understand where their food comes from as there’s so much plastic packaging about nowadays and we’re pleased to be able to help.”
Andrew Reece-Jones, the design engineering manager of Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “Our trailers have been used to carry all manner of livestock in the past but a fibreglass cow is something of a first.
“Teaching children where food comes from is very important so we are delighted that one of our trailers is the ideal transport for Charlotte.”