The Donkey Sanctuary Manchester has received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, at a special ceremony at Gorton Monastery.
The Centre, in Abbey Hey, which provides donkey assisted therapy in the form of donkey riding, grooming and petting for children with additional needs, received the award which is equivalent to an MBE, because of its huge contribution to the community.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Warren Smith, said The Donkey Sanctuary Manchester was a “very deserving organisation” that helped improve the lives of local people as he presented the Sanctuary with a crystal trophy and certificate signed by the Queen at a ceremony at Gorton Monastery on Tuesday 5th August 2014.
Centre Manager, Debbie Coombes, said she was thrilled to receive the highest award for volunteer groups in the UK.
She said: “It’s is a true honour and it’s been an honour to work with fantastic volunteers over the years. The centre has only succeeded thanks to the commitment of our volunteers. They assist in everything from riding therapy to looking after the children, the donkeys, running fundraising events. The centre wouldn’t be the same without them.”
Debbie met the Queen at a Royal Garden Party in June on behalf of The Donkey Sanctuary Manchester as a recipient of the Queen’s Award. She added: “She was really interested in what we do and what animals and donkeys can do to help people. Unfortunately the corgis weren’t there that day but it was really lovely to talk to the Queen, and to see that she is a real animal-lover. We were really blessed to have the opportunity and to be chosen to talk to her out of all the people there.”
The Donkey Sanctuary Manchester has been established for ten years. During the last year it gave over 12,000 free donkey therapy rides to children with additional needs and 9,000 outreach visits to residents in care homes and hospices.
The centre provides donkey assisted therapy to over 200 children with additional needs from Manchester and the surrounding area each week. For further information visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/therapy/manchester