An artist has donated her painting of a very special armed forces mascot and its handler to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry in Bovington.

Annabelle Valentine, a portrait artist based in Blandford Forum, was inspired by the Royal Wessex Yeomanry's ram mascot 'Nik-Nak' when she visited the regiment for a re-cap badging ceremony.

Ms Valentine also met Nik-Nak's handler, Ram Major Cpl Lynette Marshallsay.

Rams are the regimental mascot of the armed forces used for ceremonial purposes and their senior handler is known as a Ram Major.

Ms Valentine said: “The moment I saw the Dorset and Wessex Yeomanry mascot ram Nik-Nak and Corporal Lynette Marshallsay, I knew that I just had to paint them - I quickly took some blurry photos from afar and combined them to create the composition. 

“I’m from a farming background and I had an adorable and very friendly pet ram for 11 years which I cared for from when he was a tiny, abandoned lamb. That year my younger brother and I bottle-fed 11 lambs before and after school, which was noisy chaotic fun. 

“I was informed that the 'Mascot Ram' had never been painted before, so I thought it would be a great idea to create the artwork in public at various events, make a frame and then donate it."

Dorset Echo: Nik-Nak the ram and Cpl Lynette Marshallsay painted by Anabelle ValentineNik-Nak the ram and Cpl Lynette Marshallsay painted by Anabelle Valentine (Image: Annabelle Valentine)

Sergeant David Clifford of the Wessex Yeomanry attended a Tankfest event a while later and was wondering through the museum to take a look at all of the exhibits when he came across Ms Valentine who was working on the same painting.

She explained that she will work on these types of paintings over a series of events that she attends as they normally consist of around 14 coats of paint.

Sgt Clifford added: “As I know the Ram Major very well, we struck up a conversation and I asked her what her plan for it was, at no point would I have guessed it would have been offered to the squadron years later.”

The artist was concerned after completing the painting as it was very large which she instantly regretted but it didn’t appear to be an issue for the Yeomanry as she was told it would go in ‘pride of place,’ and that they were ‘really surprised’ and ‘delighted’ with her donation.

The artist has a history of painting members of the armed forces and has been commissioned to paint portraits of all outgoing Generals and Majors for the Queen's Gurkha Signals since 2014

She said: “I feel honoured to do this work, all of which are on permanent display within the army."