As I pulled into the yard, I noticed the bus from Milton Keynes College parked up next to the gate with two happy donkeys getting a lot of attention from several happy people.
Stardust and Snowy (who, as his name suggests is pure white) were having a great time interacting with students from the College who were there to improve their work skills.
Becca, the tutor, and Tina, a teaching assistant, said interacting with the donkeys helped the students learn life skills such as team work and responsibility.
Clearly the students were enjoying themselves. Tom was rather apprehensive when he first met the donkeys but he is now close to them and it has helped with his use of a wheelchair, said Beth, from the College. The donkeys also really enjoy the attention.
Debbie Coxall, the foster owner, said she loves seeing people with the animals and thought she’d give it a go with the College. She said she’s thrilled to see how it has improved the students’ skills and confidence and how the donkeys are also really interested and how they benefit as a result. Debbie also has a wildlife area where the students and the donkeys watch wildlife together in the summer, and where the children practice maintenance tasks.
Students Sarah and Chantal took time out from mucking out to tell me about donkey care: “It's important that the donkeys have a clean bed”, they said.
Driving away I’m left with a great feeling. A bright, happy bunch of people and animals amid the grey gloom of a winter's afternoon. Donkeys and people: a great combination in therapy and fun.