On Saturday Suzanne Daly, Jen Littley and I travelled from Devon to Newton Farm in Buxton, Derbyshire where Chris Pile, the farm manager, had been making feverish last minute preparations for their first open day for four years.
Newton Farm is part of the Sanctuary and has space for up to 50 donkeys who might be in transit to Devon or to foster homes in the area. Some of the donkeys may be getting ready to join the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys (our sister charity) who has centres in the north. The open day is a great opportunity to spread the word about the work we do and for people to see the donkeys close up.
Early on Sunday morning Jen was out on the yard helping muck out. Suzanne had a broom and was sweeping the yards and I was helping Joy Wilcox, groom/trainer at Newton Farm, fill hundreds of rolls with a selection of fillings - tuna, egg, cheese and pickle!
At 9.30 am people started to arrive and from then on it was non stop! More than 1,000 people came to see what we do and I was able to talk about the farms in Devon and Dorset and explain to the visitors about the importance of the farrier while he trimmed a number of donkeys' feet. Talks about the work of EST and the problems the vet encounters were well attended. The children were able to groom and walk with the donkeys, play games, and buy all manner of toys, sweets, cakes and books.
EST Manchester brought some donkeys and a cart and were able to give cart-rides to a lucky few. The raffle and programme sales helped to raise funds.
At 4.00 pm things were winding down, the BBQ had almost sold out and the cakes were all gone, the donkeys wanted their tea (and so did we!).
Suzanne, Jen and I drove back to Devon in high spirits, singing along to Robbie Williams in the car. What a worthwhile way to spend a weekend!