ONE of the most iconic landmarks in the region was yesterday given a makeover with help from eager members of the public.

Work on re-chalking the White Horse at Uffington started over the weekend and people of all ages were on hand to help brighten it up.

From young children to experienced walkers, many who were just out to enjoy the views and good weather picked up a hammer to help with the makeover.

The chalking takes place twice a year and is essential if the ancient landmark is to remain clearly visible as it overlooks the Wiltshire and Oxfordshire countryside.

Andy Foley, the National Trust Ranger, said: “Maintaining the horse is a constant job. Almost as soon as we have finished, the chalk starts to fade so we now do it twice a year.

“Often we have staff from the National Trust office in Swindon come along to help us, but that wasn’t possible this time so we are grabbing passers-by.

“It is a big job so will take a few days and we rely on the weather. But it is something anyone can do, including children.”

The horse is made white using chalk gathered just a short distance away. However, a machine is needed to break the chalk down to a manageable size.

From there a hammer is used to smash it down and pummel it into the markings.

“We take it from a quarry which is just 100 metres away,” said Andy.

“It used to be a very time consuming job but I recently brought in a machine which makes it much smaller so it is easier to bring up here.

“As soon as you start breaking the chalk down you can see the difference it makes.”

The landmark was awash with a small army of volunteers for much of the day, many of whom had travelled from other parts of the country.

Howard Rosenthal, 42, who had come down from London with family and friends.

He said: “We were down in the area and we couldn’t miss seeing something as historic as the White Horse. It is a great way for the children to learn about sites like this.

“By helping to restore it they feel connected to it and will always be interested in finding out more.

“Not only are they enjoying themselves but they are getting something useful from the experience.”