What a delight to be in Derbyshire on a reasonably warm and occasionally sunny Sunday in September for their summer fair. Chris Pile and his team of staff and volunteers were hard at work at 6.30am, feeding and mucking out the donkeys and setting up stalls ready for the visitors to arrive from 10am. I got there at 7.30am and spent an hour or so filling rolls with egg mayonnaise, tuna, cheese and ham.
All in the preparation
Darren the farrier fired up the BBQ. Sales of BBQ food, teas, coffees, filled rolls were manned by Val and Pam from our sister charity, the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and donkeys. Kat manned the Bric a brac stall and fundraisers Arnold, Mary and Madeline had their wonderful donkey related goods stall. Georgie was in charge of the cake stall and Sharon had control of the programmes and raffle tickets. John was stationed in the car park directing traffic and Chris calmly set up the PA system and handed out floats. Guess the weight of Flynn the donkey and the Coconut Shy were manned by two of our super organised Quality Time Volunteers, David and Joanne Stinchcombe, and Hannah had a quiz for visitors to complete and a Silent Auction for two lovely donkey prints. Joy made sure everyone had everything they needed and helped Julia, another Quality Time Volunteer, organise the donkey walking and grooming.
We were ready!
Cars poured into the field and within an hour the place was humming. So many people wanting to spend time with the donkeys, at one point Rambo had four young girls grooming him a the same time! My mum, Ellen who is 80 years old, spent all day successfully encouraging people to part with their money on the Tombola stall.
During the day I gave a talk on the work of the Sanctuary and the farms in Devon and Dorset. Leire the vet came back to Derbyshire from her new job on the Isle of Wight and gave a talk about donkey illnesses and Mark, their vet and dentist, did a talk about donkeys’ teeth.
The farrier came off the BBQ after lunch and Joy held donkeys while he trimmed their feet and I explained what he was doing to a very interested crowd. First he trimmed Barney who had ongoing problems with his feet and found it hard to stand on three legs. Then it was Mushroom's turn who had come into the farm with long feet with her blind mother called Amy who was as good as gold to trim.
Quincy and Xerxes, two newly castrated young male donkeys who had been relinquished after an RSPCA complaint, then had their feet trimmed. They had long hooves and their owner had cut them off with a chisel causing pain and distress to these lovely donkeys. When Darren went to trim their feet they were very apprehensive and he was very patient with them, gaining their trust.
Lastly he trimmed Flynn’s feet. When Flynn was relinquished two years ago his feet were so twisted that we did not think he would survive. It was wonderful to see him looking so well and once Darren had finished he held up his twisted hoof for me to photograph as his trimming had brought it back to almost normal looking – what a great result!
By 4pm people were leaving and the staff set to making sure all the donkeys were comfortable for the night and all the stalls were packed up and put away. It was wonderful to work with a team of such dedicated, caring people who made the whole thing run so smoothly. Well done to them all.