Shetland pony delivers supplies to the vulnerable

This adorable miniature Shetland pony has been spreading joy in his home village by delivering supplies to vulnerable people forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus.

Little Alf, who stands at just 28 inches tall, has joined his owner Hannah Russell, 23, in delivering eggs to elderly residents in the town where he has become a local celebrity.

The pint-sized pony became a global internet sensation when he was adopted by entrepreneur Hannah in 2012 and she shared his incredible story on social media.

Alf, whose ears are around 3cm big and hooves only slightly bigger than a £2 coin, has amassed 14,000 social media followers after fans went wild for his adorable exploits.

And since the self-isolation guidance came into force, he has been brightening people's days in Leyburn, North Yorks., by visiting them with supplies. 

Hannah, who runs a furniture and gift shop in the town, has been delivering boxes of fresh eggs free of charge to people she knew could not access shops themselves.

She has took Alf around the area on her route and he has helped to keep the spirits up of isolated villagers.

Hannah said: "With everything that's going on with coronavirus and people being forced to stay at home, I thought they could do with cheering up.

"I thought, 'what can I do in my village to help people out who are on lockdown?'

"There aren't many big shops in the Yorkshire Dales and the ones we have the panic buyers have wiped them out.

"A local farmer has made boxes of fresh eggs but didn't have any way of delivering them to people.

"So I started taking them out to people and took Alf with me so he could spread joy on our rounds.

"I posted a picture of Alf on social media and people loved it."

Alf has a legion of online fans worldwide who have been following his progress, but it is his local community who have benefitted from his inspiring cuteness.

Hannah started delivering items to the elderly in her village who she knew would be vulnerable during the lockdown.

Adorable videos show her walking through the street with a basket of goodies in one hand and Alf's bridal collar in another.

She added: "People love him, he just brightens everyone's day.

"I drop the eggs off at people's doors and leave them for the people to collect.

"But everyone loves seeing him and people come to their windows. It's nice for people to see him to spread a bit of happiness.

"Making people happy is what I'm all about."

Hannah, a prominent business figure in the town, hopes to expand her good deeds to neighbouring villages and towns with other firms.

She said her first step is to start including Cadbury's Creme Eggs in her basket so people can have a treat as well as the essentials.

She also hopes to start co-ordinating care packages being delivered to vulnerable residents.

Hannah added: "I have only been delivering to people I know in the village who are elderly and need a bit support.

"But we are looking at putting 216 care packages together for next week and hopefully double the week after."

Animal lover Hannah adopted Alf in 2012 after he faced the chop from a breeder because of his unusually tiny size.

Without asking her parent's permission, a determined Hannah brought Alf home from the breeder's yard and hid him in a stable overnight when she was just 16.

Hannah dropped out of college soon after when she suffered debilitating injuries in a kayaking accident.

She struggled mentally and said that Alf, who was only seven months old at the time, provided her with something to focus on.

Now eight-years-old, Alf has inspired eight children's books, as well as having his own shop, magazine, YouTube channel and clothing range. 

Hannah said: "When he came into my life, I never thought any of this would happen. I was going to be a sports instructor and that was it.

"I was feeling quite down because I was watching all of my friends go away to college and having fun while I was stuck at home because of my back. 

"I saved him and he saved me. He changed my life totally.

"Everything I've done since then, my books, my shops, my businesses, are all down to Alf.

"He came to live with me at a point in my life when I needed something to focus on."