To mark the end of Volunteers' Week 2017 we caught up with one of our dedicated volunteers who discovered that donkeys were the missing piece of her life.
Volunteers play a vital role at The Donkey Sanctuary in a variety of roles and we have been paying tribute to them this week.
When volunteer Ross Hill was a toddler, she wandered off during a family visit to an animal sanctuary and was later discovered sitting in a paddock with a donkey foal - it was the start of something special...
Ross said: "I have always had a bit of a soft spot for equines. That image of me has sort of followed me and stuck with me through my life over the last 50 years or so, but I never really knew the story behind it.
"It wasn’t until it came up in conversation with my sister who said ‘we lost you at this Sanctuary, and when we found you, there you were deep in conversation with a donkey’, and I thought ‘hang on a minute, if that’s how it happened then there was always something missing in all my life', and I always wondered what it was – it was donkeys.
"Why do I volunteer? It’s the ability to give back. Over the last however many years we have watched Dr Svendsen [The Donkey Sanctuary founder] do all her work and we have donated and followed them. But in recent years I have really wanted to actively give something back to the Sanctuary.
"If I can free up a full-time member of staff’s time to do another - perhaps more important - job and I can do some of the work then that is fine by me.
"I love being around the donkeys, I love interacting with them and I love the way they are so loving and calming and trusting – and forgiving! I hate the way we have mis-treated the donkeys over the millennia, and if I can groom or stroke or cuddle a donkey for half an hour, this is my small way of saying sorry about what we have done. It lets me do my little bit.
"I do my hours of voluntary work at the Sanctuary and then I go off and find some donkeys to stroke and to play with. I can tell them my deepest darkest secrets; that is actually my payment, I ask for nothing more than the opportunity to spend time with the donkeys."