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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Phoenix is 'ray of light' for future
The Board family with Phoenix
The family say Phoenix's reprieve is a symbol of hope
Phoenix the calf was born on Friday the 13th - unlucky for some but certainly not for her.

The 13-day-old calf was granted a stay of execution after Downing Street announced it would be relaxing the policy of contiguous culling around infected farms.

Phoenix is a well-named symbol of hope and rebirth

Regional NFU spokesman
Ian Johnson

A bitter row had broken out between Phoenix's owners, Philip and Michaela Board, of Clarence Farm in Membury, Devon, and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Boards said the calf was healthy and appealed for her to be spared.

But Maff had other ideas and twice attempted to enter the farm to kill Phoenix in line, it said, with the contiguous cull policy.

On hearing the news that Phoenix would be allowed to live, the Board family said they were delighted.

Ross Board with Phoenix
11-year-old Ross accused Maff of not having a heart
Philip Board, 42, said: "It is absolutely fantastic, I just hope it will shine a bit of light on the rest of the farming industry and help them in the future.

"I think they deserve a bit of cheering up - it has been so miserable and bad. It is about time we had something good."

Phoenix miraculously survived a foot-and-mouth cull, during which 15 cattle and 30 sheep were slaughtered at the farm.

She lay huddled next to her dead mother for five days before being discovered last Monday by Maff officials who had come to disinfect the land following the cull.

The Board family demonstrated they were prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to save the baby animal.

Court injunction

Mrs Board asked Maff officials to leave her land and told them they would require a court injunction before she would allow them to kill Phoenix.

She said she was willing to allow vets to take blood samples from the calf to prove she was not infected with the foot-and-mouth virus and said she would have travelled the length of the country to obtain a vaccine for Phoenix.

The couple's son, Ross, 11, also voiced his distress when he said if Maff "had a heart" they would leave Phoenix alone.

Michaela Board and Phoenix
Phoenix enjoys his first breakfast as a free calf
Mrs Board, 35, said: "It is brilliant, fantastic. We were not sure we were going to get anywhere, but we thought she deserved a chance and we would go for it."

"We have heard nothing official from Maff or anyone, but we have heard it on the news and we are very, very hopeful this is correct. We cannot believe it really.

"We just fed Phoenix with a bottle and she is going to have another now because she is very very hungry.

"She is going to go on to the bucket because she is going so well."

'A symbol of hope'

And as for the famous little calf's future on the farm?

"She will have a long stable future," said Mrs Board.

"She is going to stay here on the farm and we are going to breed her eventually.

"But she is mainly going to keep my horse Teddy company."

Regional NFU spokesman Ian Johnson said: "Phoenix is a well-named symbol of hope and rebirth, and it takes a catalyst like that sometimes to bring about the obvious - common sense, which is what we have asked for all along."

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23 Apr 01 | Health
Human 'may have foot-and-mouth'
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