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PM wades in to save sheep from drowning
Buy this photo » RESCUE MISSION: Farmer Julian Tustian next to the stretch of water and boggy ground at Dean where Prime Minister David Cameron and his police bodyguards waded in to rescue Swampy the sheep
A WEST Oxfordshire sheep found herself the darling of the media yesterday after being rescued by David Cameron.
The Prime Minister and Witney MP discovered the drowning ewe, since named Swampy, after hearing her bleating loudly on his neighbour Julian Tustian’s farm.
Mr Cameron contacted his armed police protection team and, together with two officers, he pulled the sheep out of the boggy ground.
Although the rescue happened on March 1, the news broke yesterday and Mr Tustian, 43, found himself receiving calls from news organisations including The Sun and BBC Radio 5 Live.
He said: “My landline has been going non-stop all day. I’m not answering it any more, because I have got so much else to do.
“I thought it was pretty normal, but most people only see David Cameron as the Prime Minister, so I can see why people are interested.”
The rescue began after Mr Cameron, whose home in Dean, backs on to Mr Tustian’s fields – popped over to see the new lambs.
Mr Tustian said: “He was stood in the pen talking about lambing and then said he would walk home but go around the field for a final check for me.
“He heard the bleating and went to the sound and found the ewe up to its shoulders in the swamp.
“I went down to the field and there was David and two armed police officers waist deep, trying to haul the sheep out.”
He added: “I knew when he called and said the sheep was in the swamp that he would be in there getting it out.
“To me it’s the sort of thing I would expect him to do. I have known him a long time and he’s hands-on.
“But I wouldn’t expect anyone to stand on the bank and watch a sheep drown.
“It was more unusual that the police had helped as well. They were in uniform and got plastered in mud.”
Mr Tustian said that Mr Cameron was a regular visitor to his farm and Mr Cameron’s children often helped to bottle-feed his lambs.
In 2007, Mr Cameron helped to deliver two lambs after discovering Mr Tustian struggling with a distressed ewe which was about to give birth.
Mr Cameron held down the ewe for 15 minutes until the lambs were born Mr Tustian said: “I don’t even think of him as the Prime Minister, to me he’s just David the neighbour. When I see him on TV in Afghanistan, I don’t really think it’s the same person.”
He said the 18-month-old ewe, now named Swampy, is now doing well.
Mr Tustian said sheep had a natural inclination towards getting themselves stuck in risky situations.
He said: “It’s an old shepherd’s saying that sheep always try to kill themselves.
“The moment sheep are born, they try every which way they can to kill themselves and it’s a shepherd’s job to try to stop that.
“If a tree is going to fall down, you can guarantee sheep will stand there waiting for it to fall on them.”
Mr Tustian has run the farm, which has 50 ewes and also takes in orphaned sheep from neighbouring farms, for the past eight years.
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