Donkeys looking for a new home - for the winter only

Life's a beach in the summer, but one group of Great Yarmouth residents finds East coast life less congenial during the damp winter months.

Life's a beach in the summer, but one group of Yarmouth residents finds East coast life less congenial during the damp winter months.

After giving thousands of rides to children during an exceptionally busy season on the resort's central beach, Parker's Donkeys are looking forward to a well-deserved break.

And to send Noddy, Trigger, Crack-er, Darcy, Willie et al off on their bray days, owner Haily Bulgin, 40, of Yarmouth, is appealing for suitable holiday homes around East Anglia.

She said: "We have got fields and a stable in Caister Road which are fine in the summer, but the ground can become very heavy and marshy in the winter and the donkeys are then susceptible to getting seedy toe, a type of foot rot.

"I had mixed feelings when we sent them away for the first time last winter because it is like sending your children away.

"However, I got really excited when they came back in March. It was like having all your family back again."

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Last year, the 15 donkeys, one female and 14 geldings, went as far afield as Holt and Lound and Leiston, in Suffolk, and Ms Bulgin is willing to travel similar distances this time.

Although she is looking for "foster" homes on a voluntary basis, she will meet the cost of food and other expenses.

The donkeys, which range in age from four to 19, are now winding down for the season, working just weekends.

"They will finish off working every day of half-term week at the end of October and then be ready for their break," said Ms Bulgin.

She said the summer, the fifth since they revived the beach tradition in Yarmouth, had been their busiest yet with a lot more people about, combined with lovely weather.

"Children still love donkey rides and I think their parents and grandparents are even keener, remembering it is what they used to do," she said.

Ms Bulgin said her donkeys loved their work, with all the attendant fuss and attention, and their good nature had impressed judges from the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary, who this summer had voted them the best donkeys on the East coast for the fourth time.

Shelagh Steel, regional welfare officer for the Donkey Sanctuary, which organises the winter homes scheme, said: "Donkeys need to be rehomed in pairs as they are companion animals.

"You need to consider if you have the time and commitment needed to look after them and you will need an acre of well-fenced grazing with a shelter, fresh water supply and electricity. Caring for donkeys can be most rewarding."

If you can provide a winter home, call Ms Steel on 07836 756117 or the welfare department in Sidmouth on 01395 578222.