Equine Hospital Build Begins

We are pleased to announce that the building work for the first phase of a new ‘Equine Hospital’ facility at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary in Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell began recently.

The purpose built hospital comprising of a treatment and convalescent area, two holding pens and a veterinary and staff hygiene area will provide facilities for essential veterinary treatment, in a warm, sterile environment. Donkeys at the sanctuary are  currently having to be treated in a clean stable on site or taken to the vets. The new hospital will reduce the stress of travel to and from the vets and save the sanctuary money.

John McLaren, founder of the sanctuary said “we are very pleased to be embarking on this new development for the sanctuary.  We rescue around 30 donkeys every year, most needing immediate treatment and this facility means the sanctuary vet can help us help them at a critical time.”

The proposed site for the Equine Hospital needed clearing first of all!
The proposed site for the Equine Hospital needed clearing first of all!
Once that was done, it was time to call in Building Inspector Pollyanne (L) and Health and Safety Inspector Tracy.
Anyone seen the plans?

The start of this project has however been tinged with sadness after the sudden passing of one of it’s main fundraisers, Keith Lawrence, who became unwell while on holiday in Minehead. Keith, who lived in Grove with his wife Heather, was regularly seen at the sanctuary manning his Equine Hospital stall. He also helped run fun dog shows at the sanctuary with his daughters Jackie and Michelle.

Judy Gibbons, Chair of Trustees said ”We were all very shocked and saddened to hear of Keith’s passing. He had been instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Everyone at the sanctuary, staff and fellow volunteers, extend our sincere condolences to Heather and the family.”

The rescue centre is still actively fundraising to complete the works on the hospital.  To donate please call the sanctuary on 01491 833938 or visit www.donkeyrescue.org.uk

Equine Hospital Illustration 1
Proposed layout of the Equine Hospital

Donkey Show and Fun Dog Show July 2015

Perfect weather greeted our annual Donkey Show and Fun Dog Show on the 5th July when 38 donkeys from as far afield as Bristol, Huntingford and Crawley were entered in classes such as Best Condition and Turnout, Best Stallion, Best Mare, etc.

New for this year were Driving Classes with beautifully turned out donkeys in harness pulling equally impressive carts. We would like to thank Angela and Peter Scales for arranging such a fantastic addition to the show. Feedback has been very positive and it is something we would definitely like to continue in 2016. The Show Drive through the picturesque village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell was well supported with Ros Lester, the Deputy Mayor of Wallingford, in attendance. Ros also judged the Concours d’Elegance class.

The results for all the In Hand and Driving Classes are below:  Donkey Show 2015 Results2-page-001Donkey Show 2015 Results2-page-002Donkey Show 2015 Results2-page-003


Please go to our Gallery page for images from the day including some from our Fun Dog Show. Thank you to Rachel Philo Photography for the photos of the In Hand and Miniature Champion donkeys. Check out www.rachelphilo.co.uk for more great photographs.

Judy Gibbons (left), Chair of Trustees, with the In Hand Champion donkey Gamlingay the Alchemist and handler Jade Weaver
Judy Gibbons (left), Chair of Trustees, with the In Hand Champion donkey Gamlingay the Alchemist and handler Jade Weaver


Miniature Champion donkey Lil Angels Texas Tease took a real interest in the trophy presented by Mrs. Jean Fooks
Miniature Champion donkey Lil Angels Texas Tease took a real interest in the trophy presented by Mrs. Jean Fooks


We would like to extend our thanks to Mr. Alec Horn, the In Hand Judge and the Driving Judge, Mr. Richard Wiggins plus all the stewards, volunteers and sponsors for making the show possible.

In Hand & Ridden Pony Show, 7th June 2015

An In-Hand and Ridden Pony Show took place at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary on Sunday 7th June. Competitors and visitors were greeting by clear blue skies and pleasant weather in addition to the warm welcome from the staff and volunteers and donkeys here at the sanctuary.

Jason Light with 'Bonnie Boy' winning of Reserve Supreme Champion
Jason Light with ‘Bonnie Boy’ winner of Reserve Supreme Champion on 7th June 2015

Many beautifully turned-out ponies competed for rosettes in 40 different classes held in 3 show rings. Some of the classes at this event included:

Best Condition & turnout (ridden), Family pony (ridden), Shetland pony classes, Welsh pony classes, Exmoor / Dartmoor pony classes, Dales / Fell / New Forest/ Highland / Connemara pony classes, Coloured / Piebald / Skewbald ponies, a class for Roans, Duns, Palomino, Appaloosa ponies, Prettiest mare, and even a “Thelwell Pony” class.

Below are a couple more photographs from this Pony Show at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary.

Above, Catherine Keogh with ‘Rosy’ winning second in the Veteran class

Above, Right: Gavina Semonella on ‘Burnside Larra’, winner of the Supreme Championship

Country Show 2015

Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary’s 2015 Country Show took place on the weekend of 23-24 May.

This is an annual two day event featuring a wide range of entertainers and demonstrations of various skills and activities. Many attractions have a rural or agricultural associations while others are cultural or simply great fun. This year’s event featured birds of prey, a ‘Pets Corner’, llamas, dog agility and Shetland Pony agility events, model and craft displays, vintage cars and motorbikes, Irish dancers, Ashnah Folkloric Fusion Dance, and the Kennesaw Confederates and the H-Bar-C Drifters American West Living History Displays. Our popular fun dog show also takes place during the Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary Country Show weekend.


In addition to the displays, competitions and musical entertainment there were also plenty of stalls selling various products.

Below are a just a few photographs from this year’s Country Show, which took place in late May.

Above: Llamas and alpacas were among the exhibits at the 2015 Country Show.
Above, Left: Parade of Island Farm Adoption Donkeys
Above, Right: Island Farm’s ‘Monty’ awaiting his public at the Country Show

If you enjoyed the Country Show or if you missed it but would like to visit something similar soon do come and visit our Pony Show on 7th June and the Island Farm Donkey Show with Fun Dog Show on 5th July.

As happy as a pig in mud …

Donkeys are by far the most numerous residents at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary in Oxfordshire. Even so, if you look closely around the yard and fields or even just at the photographs on our website you’re sure to notice many other animal residents including chickens, geese, mice and a few larger mammals that occasional receive a mention in our newsletters and online.

Back in September 2013 we wrote about the arrival of Percy the pot-bellied pig together with various companions including a goat, a little brown duck, a Shetland pony and her mule foal together with his donkey dad. You can read more about them all here.

Although our main concern is for donkeys, all the animals at Island Farm are loved and cared for, which includes their various needs being met. Pigs need access to mud, or even better, a shallow muddy pool to cool off when the sun shines. Now that spring and some warmth from the sun is returning to Island Farm, here are a few photos of Percy doing what pigs do.

Percy pig at Island Farm Donkey SanctuaryPercy pig at Island Farm Donkey SanctuaryPercy pig at Island Farm Donkey SanctuaryPercy pig at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary

Palm Sunday 2015

Tracey the donkey ready for a 2015 Palm Sunday eventAs our friends and supporters know, Island Farm donkeys are in demand for Palm Sunday church services. This year was no exception.

The donkeys were not too bothered by the rather blustery March weather. Here (right) are a couple of pictures of Tracey, nicely turned-out and presentable wearing a freshly cleaned and polished bridle for the occasion.

With Tracey in the picture below-right are Barbara, Sue, Wanda and Jack (the dog). As usual, Tracey is calm and relaxed. If you recognize her from elsewhere on this website that might be because you watched our Carol Service video at which she made an appearance, then stayed on afterwards with various stable mates including Billy the goat and some sheep.

We hoped to include a photo of Tracey in the procession but due to wind and weather, it looked rather blurred so here are some other pictures of that (below) instead. As you can see, there were a lot of people and flapping robes to add to the inclement weather, but nothing fazes Tracey.

Palm Sunday procession, Sun 29th March 2015

Preparing donkeys for Palm Sunday

Donkey groomingThe Saturday before Palm Sunday (yesterday, 28th March) was a busy day here at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary. Staff and volunteers were busy with the grooming kits preparing 16 donkeys for their starring roles in Palm Sunday processions.

As if it wasn’t enough to brush and pamper a mere 16 donkeys, others pushed in for attention too. All the donkeys showed every sign of appreciating the attention, just as the (human) team enjoyed giving it. They looked even more beautiful than usual by the time the grooming was done.

Here are a few more pictures of the work in progress …

Donkey GroomingDonkey GroomingDonkey GroomingDonkey Grooming

As for the that last picture, donkeys will be donkeys …

Photos of this donkey grooming session have also been posted on our Facebook page.

Peter and Rudolf go to Wormwood Scrubs

Donkeys Peter and Rudolf just out of the horsebox and about to make new friends at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre on 19th March 2015.
Peter and Rudolf arriving at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

Today two of our donkeys, Peter and Rudolf, are going to live at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre in London. Although most of our donkeys live here at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary (Oxfordshire, England), some of our  donkeys are fostered elsewhere in the UK where we continue to ensure that they are well cared for.

Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre is an excellent equine facility at which rescued and well trained and cared for ponies provide the enjoyment of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) activities. Many people who have learning difficulties, among other challenges, also benefit from the hard work and fundraising needed to care for the animals and maintain and extend their facilities. Peter and Rudolf are expected to join the RDA team after they have settled in to their new home. In the early years RDA activities used to take place at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary. So, we are delighted to know that two of our donkeys will be carrying on that tradition at WSPC. It is a way of helping both our donkeys and the people that visit the PC.

Looking at the photos so far, they seem to be settling in quickly and enjoying their new surroundings. The ponies and donkeys enjoy their exercise with the human visitors and are never asked to do too much work. We have also heard that the equines at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre have the ‘perk’ of a 6 week annual holiday on a farm in Suffolk. Sounds good!

Below are the first few photos of Peter and Rudolf exploring their new surroundings and making a few new friends of the wonderful team at Wormwood Scrubs.

IFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf arriving at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, London.IFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony CentreIFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony CentreIFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony CentreIFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony CentreIFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony CentreIFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony CentreIFDS donkeys Peter and Rudolf at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

Carols with the Donkeys 2014

This short video features a few scenes from our carol service on 18th December 2014.

As you can see, the clips were recorded on a hand-held mobile phone.
Sorry about the occasional jitter but hopefully this conveys some sense of the occasion.

We started a few minutes after 7.30pm due to more people arriving, a good cause for delay as it was lovely to see so many of our friends and supporters despite the cold dark night.
The barn was almost full with everyone comfortably seated around tables. Not only was that cheerfully sociable, but it was especially convenient for enjoying the delicious mince pies and other treats afterwards. The above doesn’t give a fair impression of the number of people present because the person filming needed to stand no further back than almost halfway along the barn in order to include these views of the BENSON and ROKE BRASS BAND who played brilliantly for us, and of the Rev. Janice Chilton who conducted the service.

There are short clips of the band playing and the barn while people arrived, then some of the carols – including “Little Donkey” during which Linda brought in Tracey, the donkey who is also shown in the final clips of some of the animals that joined us in the barn for the carol service. Other animals present are included at the end. There were also some well-behaved dogs who were most welcome but are not shown.

Other features of the evening not depicted here included the stalls along the side of the barn at which volunteers sold various gifts including some delightful soft toys, knitted donkeys and other items from our shop. There were also two raffles that were drawn later in the evening and warming mulled wine, soft drinks and nibbles served after the music. Some people won nice prizes just in time for Christmas and much-needed funds were raised to contribute to the running of the sanctuary and the welfare of the donkeys in our care.

Thank-you again to the BENSON and ROKE BRASS BAND, Rev. Janice Chilton and everyone who came to support this event. A Happy New Year to all!

Merry Christmas 2014

As 2014 comes to an end it’s time to thank all our friends and supporters for the help, good wishes and contributions of various kinds that we have received this year. Our Christmas message is conveyed by Jack and Charlie, two of our popular adoption donkeys, who are pictured below complete with the cheerful Santa hat stylishly modelled by Jack.

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and good health and fortune in 2015.

Donkeys Jack and Charlie wish all our friends and supporters a very Merry Christmas
Donkeys Jack and Charlie wish all our friends and supporters a very Merry Christmas!