Cardinal Newman in Coventry is a large secondary school with an alternative curriculum which includes animal care, preparing students to go on to Foundation and Degree courses in all aspects of animal management. Current students are destined for the prestigious Harpbury College and other universities.
Dark Star and Rodney arrived here in February 2016 after the school decided to replace their Shetland ponies, with donkeys being their preferred choice. Head of department Keeley and other staff members did their Stage 1 course at our Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre in Birmingham, one of whom, Emma, overcame a great fear of equines to attend in the hope of becoming a donkey team member, and everyone is so proud of the steps she has taken.
After a period of settling in where, as we always recommend, the donkeys are left largely alone to get used to their new surroundings and carers, the boys wasted no time in becoming a part of the school's daily routine. They are grazed on several small paddocks within the school buildings and draw a lot of attention from pupils and staff unused to seeing a pair of donkeys walking round the grounds.
Donkeys thrive in environments where they are enriched and here there is no shortage of that! The staff and students' commitment to them is heartwarming. Branches and brambles are regularly collected for them and they have a good selection of logs in their quiet stable and yard area where they can retire to rest after school closes.
A perfect example of people and donkeys making the world of difference to each other.