Donkeys are iconic - loved by some, taken for granted by others, sometimes abused, but continuing to making a vital contribution to some of the diversest, remotest and poorest communities around the world. I became involved with donkeys as a result of seeing them at work.
I became a vet because I wanted to improve the lives and stop the abuse of animals. I qualified in 1981, worked in mixed practice in UK for a few years, then got a job in Papua New Guinea, and have continued to work overseas for much of my life, particularly in Kenya, Sudan and Afghanistan. My interest has been in trying to improve animal health and welfare in poorer or more remote communities - places where ‘community-based’ animal health services seem to offer benefit.
Realising that animal welfare is not exactly the same as veterinary work, I returned to University in 1993 to do a Masters Degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare. I knew that working donkeys were often out of the loop for veterinary attention so, to understand best practice in donkey welfare, and hoping one day to be able to help them, I did my dissertation on ‘The Welfare of Donkeys’. At this time I started doing school talks and taking an increasing interest in animal welfare, environmental and development education, and in human-animal interactions and animal-assisted therapy. From 2004, realising I needed to understand more about education I spent two years getting a full teaching qualification, including a year teaching science in a state secondary school - a fantastic experience which has changed the way I work, most recently with an EU-funded veterinary development project in Afghanistan.
I joined The Donkey Sanctuary in October as Director of International Operations. This job at the Donkey Sanctuary is my dream job. Donkey Sanctuary work combines all my interests. The challenge for me is to add something useful to all the great work that is already being done.