Jayne Barron has always had a passion for animals, and after retiring as a head teacher, she set her sights on becoming a Quality Time Volunteer at The Donkey Sanctuary.

Her love of donkeys began at an early age, after her grandparents took in a rescued donkey called Dinky. Her aunt and uncle were also great supporters of The Donkey Sanctuary for many years, stirring Jayne’s interest in the charity and her desire to become a volunteer.

Following her training, Jayne joined as a weekly volunteer, helping our grooms to look after the resident donkeys at Paccombe and Brookfield, two of the charity’s farms in East Devon. She ensures the donkeys all get her attention, and spends a lot of quality time grooming them. Jayne helps to make sure their stables are kept nice and clean and also finds time to accompany the grooms as they take the donkeys on walks in the surrounding countryside.

Both Jayne and her husband Roger had often thought how perfect it would be if they had donkeys of their own, and after moving house to the perfect setting in rural Dorset, their dreams came true and they became the proud Guardian owners of Hope and Shadow.

Remarkably, both donkeys share the same birthday, and were born at our Brookfield farm to their respective mums on 16 April 2014.

Hope’s mum Mabel arrived into our care in foal, with a 10 month old foal already at foot, and she and Shadow’s mum Topsy, who was also in foal, were both relinquished separately due their owners’ ill health.

In our care, the two foals enjoyed the first few months playing with each other, with Mabel and Topsy always close by. By the time they were nine months old, they were ready to be weaned so they could make some new friends and join another group of youngsters.

After time, the grooms decided the friendly young donkeys would be perfect for our Rehoming Scheme, so the training began. They were introduced to new sites and taken on walks around Slade House Farm in Sidmouth, before being moved to a small paddock in the centre of the sanctuary. Here they waited until their new home was ready.

In preparation for their arrival, Jayne and Roger had stables built in their garden, which Jayne had designed herself to ensure every detail was perfectly thought out. They were even fitted with cameras, so they could watch Hope and Shadow sleeping without disturbing them.

Jayne said: "Being a Quality Time Volunteer has been so helpful and taught me exactly what I needed to know to be a guardian for donkeys myself. The whole experience has been invaluable, I have learnt so much and am still learning more from the grooms from two of your outlying farms - Paccombe and Brookfield. Our Donkey Welfare Adviser has given us great support too, we have been so lucky."

She added: “Our donkeys are an absolute joy to be around, and we cannot think of one downside of being Guardians. We’re so glad we have been able to give them a loving home, and we always make sure their birthdays are double celebrations!”

Donkey Welfare Adviser Sophie Foster said: “Hope and Shadow have landed on their hooves with Jayne and Roger, it’s always such a delight to be able to witness the friendship and trust blossom between donkeys and Guardians."

Since becoming a Donkey Guardian, Jayne still volunteers, providing quality time for our resident donkeys, many of which she has got to know really well. Until the restrictions were put in place due to coronavirus, she would make the long drive from her Dorset home to Devon every month to hand out her donkey cuddles, and is looking forward to being able to do so again in the near future.

Could you rehome a pair of donkeys?