With all the names and faces I have been introduced to this week, I could almost be forgiven for forgetting my own.
Not just names of staff, but their dogs (who happily sleep in the dog-friendly offices) and, of course, donkeys.
I am actually the new Digital Communications Officer at The Donkey Sanctuary. My name is Ryan Peasland and I have joined the hard-working communications team to help boost the profile of the Sanctuary and its amazing multi-faceted work.
During my first week at the charity, I have been afforded an induction like no other, not just greeting but getting a hands-on experience in every corner of life at our Sidmouth base.
Life on the Sanctuary is laced with the values of founder Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE and one of the first things you are told is that donkeys come first, second and third in everything that goes on.
In my first day, once the health and safety, “no heavy lifting”, “your exits are here, here and here” videos were over myself and fellow new-starter Savanna were taken around the sanctuary by the ever-bubbly and positive Public Relations Assistant Pippa.
Doing the rounds, you get the sense that this is one big family. Some staff members and volunteers delight in telling me they have been at the sanctuary for “longer than you’ve been alive” and that “once you’re here, people don’t want to leave.”
Talk about job satisfaction, these people love what they do.
Part of the induction on that day was to watch the specially-made ’40 Years On’ DVD where Dr Svendsen tells the story of the Sanctuary and its wide reaching education and welfare practices in Europe and worldwide.
The DVD plays on loop in the video room in the main yard at the Sanctuary and it is a fantastic way to hear from the inspirational founder and see just how passionate she was for the donkeys’ wellbeing and gives you an understanding of how everyone at the sanctuary buys into the mission to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide with compassion, collaboration and creativity.
I have come into this role with a limited background of equine experience, so day two of the induction was a real insight into the charity’s care work. We hopped in the car and made the short trip to the village of Tedburn St Mary on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, where the Sanctuary’s Town Barton Farm is based.
The farm – not open to the public – specialises in mules and hinnies and many of them arrive with behavioural problems which the patient and dedicated staff work hard to overcome.
Continuing my foray into all corners of the charity, I spent day three learning about the supporter services and how the charity develops relationships with our vital and generous supporters, before learning all about our special adoption donkeys which are available for you to adopt – I know what my family is getting for Christmas this year.
When you visit the Sidmouth Sanctuary, two donkeys will more often than not be roaming around the main yard under the watchful eye of Emma, to give visitors the chance to get closer interaction and ask questions.
I spent the afternoon with Emma, trying to act as a sponge to her knowledge as she answered a stream of questions, as well as meeting our supporters and visitors to listen to how much they love visiting the donkeys.
What a great way to start life at the Sanctuary – bring on the next week.