IT'S neigh joke – the first prize in a Christmas raffle is enough to get pulses racing - and you never know it could launch an acting career.

TheHorseCourse, the west Dorset charity which uses horsemanship to help troubled people, is proud to have actor Martin Clunes as its patron.

He is equally proud of the work the charity does and after hearing the charity was organising a Christmas raffle, Mr Clunes agreed to donate a walk-on part for his hit ITV drama Doc Martin as the top prize.

Mr Clunes said: "We can't wait to see who wins – we will give you a great day on set with the Doc Martin cast and crew and I'll even check your pulse."

Runner-up prizes include hampers, and experiences and artworks from a range of businesses including Chococo, Neals Yard Remedies, Clipper Teas, Dorset Cereals, Sea Life Adventure Park, Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy, Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, Hetherwood Designs and Cove Calligraphy.

TheHorseCourse was a winner this year of ITV/BIG Lottery People's Project and shortlisted for the Guardian Charity of the Year award last year but the charity is always in need of funds to help expand the number of people it can help.

Founder Harriet Laurie said: "TheHorseCourse offers life-changing interventions to people as young as eight who aren’t progressing in talk therapy.

"Through a 'horse-whispering' programme, people learn how to communicate, focus and stay calm in stressful situations, with impressive results.

"But in order for us to do that we have to have the highly trained horses, the facilitators to teach our clients the life skills they so desperately need and we have to have a base to keep the horses and teach the course.

"All of this takes money and we thought a raffle with such a wonderful prize - which could really liven someone's Christmas up - was a lovely way to get public support and get the message out there about what we do.

"And who wouldn't want a personal consultation with Doc Martin!"

The charity is supported by Boots the Chemist

Sarah Horton at Boots the Chemist, which is selling tickets, said: "Boots is proud to support this fantastic local charity as part of our support for BBC Children in Need. TheHorseCourse helps local children, families and some of the most troubled people in society – this is a different way of helping, when other things aren't working."

Tickets priced £1 each or £5 for a book are available online from today until December 30 via

Or you can buy them in person from Boots the Chemist (Dorset stores) from now until December 10 or at Neal’s Yard Remedies (Dorset stores) from now until December 30.

The raffle will be drawn on December 30 and winners announced on TheHorseCourse website.