Photos Copyright: Maggie May
While we were on holiday my daughter,Deb and my grandsons, Harry and I visited the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary.
Although I have always seen this sanctuary advertised while visiting Devon and Dorset in the past, I have never been with anyone else who was interested enough to actually visit it.
All of us had a turn in choosing where we would like to visit for the day, on this holiday, so the sanctuary was my choice.
I found the whole place was a lot bigger than I had ever imagined it to be and was surprised that coaches brought people to visit as there are over 600 rescued donkeys there and most of them over the age of 25. Some have been cruelly treated but some have come from good homes where their owners cannot now look after them. Some are retired beach donkeys and some have had treatment and operations in the enclosed hospital block and some are lame and some blind.
There is a riding ring under cover, where disabled children come to ride certain trained donkeys and the less able children can be pulled in a little cart that caters for their wheelchair and led by a specially trained donkey and assistant.
As well as a lovely restaurant and outdoor eating area, there are walks all round the sanctuary. You can choose a short, easy walk or a long complicated one, with many in between. In fact my daughter, husband and I were so interested in the donkeys and the walks that we decided to come back the next day, foregoing an intended boat trip.
It was while we were on one of the walks round the donkey fields, that I noticed the rows of newly planted and established trees lining the paths. Then we noticed the dedication plaques to people who had died and wanted to be remembered. I suddenly realised that this is what I want my family to do when I have departed this world. (Not that I intend to go just yet). I like the thought of a tree being planted because of me though, with a plaque to remember me by.
While we were there, Deb and I decided to adopt a donkey each. For £16 a year we could choose from four different donkeys that are used to give rides to the disabled children. Obviously that amount of money won't even get me to own an ear or a hoof and many others will be adopting the same animal.
I chose the donkey in the pictures who was named Walter Bailey. Walter was the name of my grandfather so I thought it seemed appropriate to choose him, even though there were more attractive donkeys that I could have chosen instead.
I went to see him to take photos as he was tethered to some railings so his sponsors could pat him. He stamped a lot and didn't seem to be the best tempered one there. When I went to stroke him, he pushed my hand against a fence, bruising it. Whether I will choose him again next year is not certain as he seems to be the type that *bites the hand of the one that feeds him*, as the saying goes.
Anyway........ here is Walter Bailey my adopted donkey, though I won't own even a hair on his head, I have the adoption papers to prove he is *mine* for a year!
Considering that the Sanctuary's entrance is free for a whole day, I feel it is well worth sponsoring and helping this worthy cause. I used to work in a special school where the children went riding and I know how much it meant to them. I also like the idea of saving unwanted animals and I love the idea of planting trees....... so all in all it seemed a great place.
Has any one else been there? If you can go, I do recommend it.