As you might imagine, as Digital Communications Officer for The Donkey Sanctuary, a large slice of my interaction with people is through a screen via social media or e-mails.
So when Chris from our events team called to say he needed a volunteer for the beer tent at the Summer Fair (The Brayers Rest), I jumped at the chance to help out – naturally.
I hadn’t been the ‘wrong’ side of the pumps since I took on a summer job at my local Wetherspoons to see me through university, but I was relishing the chance to natter with the Sanctuary’s amazing supporters face to face.
It was my first big event since I joined the Sanctuary, but from what I had been told, everyone at the Sanctuary gets involved, whether it’s running a stall, pulling the pints, or spending the day in a large fluffy suit as Lucky the donkey mascot.
Part of what I love so much about this charity is that it is one big family, and if things need doing people are more than happy to give up their Sunday for the good of the donkeys, which is, after all, the end game for everything we do.
I arrived at 9 o’clock sharp to help set up the bar with fellow colleagues Savanna and General Farm Manager Annie Brown, who says she has been involved with providing the punters with pints of ale and cider for “longer than I care to remember!”
Once the kegs were cracked open and the Pimm’s prepared, I took the chance to take a wander around the site during the morning lull when a breakfast beer was not at the top of everyone’s list.
It was my little boy’s birthday weekend and he was waiting for his hoard of baby buddies to join him at Slade House Farm to celebrate turning two. I took him for a walk around the site and was struck by the laid-back, enjoyable feel to a fair which clearly had so much going on.
A quick trip around the shopping village offered ornate wood carvings, fresh vegetables, tombola games and a stall jam-packed with bonbons, strawberry laces, liquorice, flying saucers – we were like a couple of a kids in a sweet shop.
We wandered up to Beach Boxes to visit new adoption donkey Gareth (Gah-ruff to my toddling two-year-old) and his friend Benji. There we found fete-goers trying their hands at target practice with a golf putting game and archery.
A stroll around to Shelter 1, and it was great to see excited young children and equally-excitable parents, with their faces painted as spotty dog or a butterfly, enjoying all that was on offer. From welly-wanging through bouncy castles to a packed-out Punch and Judy show, we lapped up the general hum of amusement.
Back behind the bar, business was steady and there was such a relaxed atmosphere to the whole day, complemented by some very talented live musicians getting the toes tapping.
It was great to be able to chat with our supporters and share the passion they have for the Sanctuary and all of the donkeys who live here. It was a great event to showcase what we are all about, what we have to offer – to donkeys and to visitors – and the number of great people there are working for the charity.
So, it’s back to the PC and communicating via the World Wide Web – but it won’t stop me relishing in the success of a top event all round, as people continue to share their own Summer Fair experiences on Facebook: