Shetland pony Little Alf and his owner, author Hannah Russell have been working their magic to help working horses, donkeys and mules around the world.

Hannah, from Masham, North Yorkshire, rose to fame after penning her first Little Alf book at the age of 17. Now she has dedicated her 15th Little Alf book to animal charity Brooke after visiting one of its schools in Kenya in 2019.

It was that visit that inspired her to write Little Alf’s Adventures Around the World and Hannah has been sharing the story with children as part of National Storytelling Week.

As a Youth Ambassador for Brooke, Hannah, now 26, has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the charity. At the Brooke’s Donkey Care Club in Kenya, children are taught how to look after their donkeys.

Hannah said: “Having visited Brooke’s Donkey Care Clubs, I know the children there learn wonderful things about how to improve the lives of their animals.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Hannah, visiting Kenya and the children in 2019

“I hope that my new book Little Alf’s Adventures around the World helps to illustrate the important work Brooke does through storytelling and give working animals around the world a bright and happy future.”

In the new book, Little Alf travels to Brooke’s different countries of operation to learn about the vital work horses and donkeys do, in allowing families to put food on their tables, earn a living and send their children to school.

Brooke supports the lives of more than 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules, worldwide. These animals pull carts, carry goods and work the land, earning an income that about 600 million people rely on to put food on their tables, earn a living and send their children to school. Sadly, many of them are suffering, so Brooke works with owners, communities, service providers, governments and international organisations to make long lasting welfare improvements.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Children in Kenya are being inspired by Little Alf and Hannah

It was founded in 1934 when Dorothy Brooke, from Britain, sought out war horses left in Cairo after the First World War. With support and newspaper appeals she set up the Old War Horse Memorial, which became Brooke, expanding across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Hannah says she has leant on her beloved animals, particularly Little Alf, who has dwarfism and so is smaller than other Shetland ponies, when she has been unwell.

She added: “In 2020 life came to a standstill after I was diagnosed with Sarcoma cancer and had an intense operation on my hip to remove the tumour, followed by radiotherapy and cancer treatment. Shortly after, I then discovered I had skin cancer and had further treatment.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Hannah with Little Alf

“In 2022 I got remission in June and since then have been living life to the full with my small holding in the Yorkshire Dales.

“During my time of having cancer treatment I got Izzy and Ida my Valais black nose sheep who provided endless therapy and enjoyment especially on the hard days. These two have become very well known on my social channels and get millions of views each year online.”

Hannah has now written 20 books and is an entrepreneur, establishing an interiors business and working to develop visits with her animals at her smallholding.