Julie Richens has a background in global marketing management but is happy to admit that she had absolutely no previous donkey or other equine experience when she joined us as a volunteer at our Sidmouth Sanctuary.
Why did you want to volunteer?
I love looking after animals and have two rescued dogs and some ex-battery hens too. I’d visited The Donkey Sanctuary as we live nearby and thought that one day I might be able to foster two donkeys. I needed to find out what this would entail and that’s when I found out about volunteering.
What is your gift of time?
I groom the donkeys at Brookfield Farm. I was told that I could give as much time as I wished, and so I chose to do 3.5 hours a week. I groom with other volunteers and the staff so that we can attend to all the donkeys regularly. I am also a volunteer tour guide at the main Sanctuary in Sidmouth. I take groups, large and small, around the ‘Heart of the Sanctuary’ on a Monday morning during the summer months.
What do you enjoy the most?
The donkeys are all different and I’m getting to know which ones are the first in the queue for their groom! There’s always a variety of things to see and get involved with regarding the donkeys too.
I enjoy meeting people and on my tours in the summer there are always plenty of questions and lots to show them. Most visitors seem to have little idea of the work done abroad by the Sanctuary and many are keen to get involved by donating or sponsoring a donkey after the tour, which is most rewarding and means I’ve helped.
My special moment was...
Peeking into the barn at Brookfield Farm to see the first donkey foal I had ever seen, only days old. Within no time he was up and literally ‘running rings’ around his mum. I had no idea they could be so lively when they were so young and so adorable. I have watched the foals grow up over the summer and seen them thrive.