Alan first started volunteering with The Donkey Sanctuary in 2003 with his wife, Arran. The two of them supported the special mobile units taking donkeys from Sidmouth to schools in the Plymouth area. Twice a week for four years he and a handful of volunteers would run this service providing donkey assisted therapy to children across the city.
In 2006, the building of the Ivybridge Sanctuary was completed, and the first donkeys moved in to offer donkey assisted therapy to children with additional needs and an outreach service to local schools and care homes. Sadly this also coincided with the loss of his wife, but Alan has continued to play an important part of the team in Ivybridge and sponsors a trophy presented annually to one of the children in memory of Arran.
Volunteers are always
appreciated and valued by
The Donkey Sanctuary
"I really enjoy being with the children as they ride the donkeys in the arena," he says. "You can see the difference their time with the donkeys really makes in terms of their communication, physical abilities and in their general demeanour. I have always been interested in education as my background is in special needs teaching, but I would encourage anyone to volunteer here - there is a thorough training programme and an incredibly supportive team on hand to help. It is hugely rewarding."
Alan has witnessed some special moments in his time volunteering with The Donkey Sanctuary: "Several years ago we took the donkeys to a very tough inner city school in Plymouth. One of our riders was a little girl of seven or eight who was an selective mute. No-one had heard her speaking, that was, until she got onto one of our donkeys. It was amazing to hear her voice for the first time: a real miracle moment and one I won't forget."
Alan's favourite donkey is 25 year old Pip - pictured here. Pip was one of the original donkeys to visit schools in 2003 and is now a retired resident at our Sanctuary in Ivybridge. To find out how you can get involved, please take a look at the volunteer section of our website.