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New beach donkey rides

PUBLISHED: 10:58 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:50 05 July 2010

Donkey rides have traditionally been as much a part of a day at the seaside as getting sand in your chips and watching Punch and Judy.

And for the first time in nearly 40 years, the much-loved animals will be returning to offer rides along Lowestoft's golden sands this summer.

Donkey rides have traditionally been as much a part of a day at the seaside as getting sand in your chips and watching Punch and Judy.

And for the first time in nearly 40 years, the much-loved animals will be returning to offer rides along Lowestoft's golden sands this summer.

A trip along the beach on the back of a donkey is still a popular attraction in many of the UK's seaside holiday destinations, with 10 donkeys taking children on trips along Yarmouth beach and about 200 plying their trade in Blackpool.

The rides were a real treat for young visitors to Lowestoft in the 1940s and 50s, but numbers declined as families started to holiday abroad and by the end of the 1960s there were no donkeys left working on the town's beach.

Now Korky, Billy, Henry and Noddy - the town's newest seafront attractions - will be giving youngsters rides along the South Beach during the school summer holidays.

Lydia Ward, who will be running the rides, said: “I moved to Lowestoft five years ago and couldn't believe that there were no donkeys here on our lovely beach. It seemed like there was something missing.

“I've always liked donkeys so I set about finding out how to operate rides - I spent a couple of years going on training and welfare courses, finding the donkeys and getting a paddock set up.”

Mrs Ward, who lives in Oulton Broad, bought her first donkey last October and now owns four animals, all with seaside experience.

“They are four lovely boys - three used to work on the beach in Skegness and I bought them when the man doing the rides there retired. The other one used to work in Yarmouth, and they get on really well as a team,” she said.

Tony Gittins, owner of the Sandcastle bed and breakfast and chairman of the Lowestoft tourism regeneration group, said: “Donkey rides are a welcome traditional family treat. I am sure they will prove popular and I wish them all the best.”

Beach donkeys returned to Yarmouth beach in June 2006, offering trips between the Britannia and Wellington piers for the first time in generations, and have proved so popular that the owners have increased the herd from four to ten.

The Lowestoft donkeys will be on the South Beach below the Cefas building between 11am and 4pm at weekends until the school summer holidays, when they will then be working five days a week depending on the weather.

The cost is £2 per ride, children wanting a ride must weigh less than eight stone (51kg) to comply with animal welfare rules. For more information contact Lydia Ward on 01502 562921.

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