Photo gallery: Betsy’s plans to make Southwold donkey rides permanent

Betsy Chenery is set to be running donkey rides on Southwold beach next summer. Betsy Chenery is set to be running donkey rides on Southwold beach next summer.

Friday, November 9, 2012
1:00 PM

It is a holiday tradition synonymous with the British seaside.

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Children donkey rides along Caister beach.Children donkey rides along Caister beach.

And now plans are afoot to make donkey rides a permanent summer attraction at Southwold.

With help from her family, enterprising teenager Betsy Chenery is planning to bring her two jacks, Macca and Cole, to the beach after winning support from Southwold Town Council.

Betsy, 15, was inspired to launch the venture by her parents Peter and Caroline Chenery who look after five donkeys at their home at Park Gate Farm in Kelsale, near Saxmundham.

It comes after donkey-owner Lydia Ward brought children’s donkey rides back to Southwold last year.

She did not apply to continue running rides this summer.

Mr Chenery, 57, said the rides would be the perfect addition to Southwold’s traditional seaside experience.

He said: “The donkey rides will provide the comfort of the past that comes from slowing things down.

“If you saw the way young people with learning difficulties are with the donkeys, you would see that the pleasure they get from being with the animals is just fantastic.

“Children just love the contact with animals. After all, some of these children are not fortunate enough to live in a beautiful county like we do in Suffolk.

“Donkeys are especially suited to Southwold because it has such strong traditions as one of the classic seaside resorts. The Pier is wonderful and we felt donkey rides would bring another dimension to the flavour of the town.”

The Chenerys run a 20-acre smallholding which is also a Suffolk Care Farm – providing disabled people and those with learning difficulties with the chance to work with animals. Their five donkeys are looked after under supervision of The Donkey Sanctuary at Colchester, including their giant Poitou donkey, Molly, which has 12-inch ears.

Mr Chenery, whose father Thomas lived and worked in Southwold, said he believed the rides would prove to be a viable business venture for Betsy.

He added: “There is little prospect of employment for young people at the moment, and we feel further education will not generate a better job for her. This is something she would be able to do, while staying active at the same time.”

At a Southwold Town Council meeting on Tuesday last week, councillors welcomed the idea to run the rides but said they would prefer them to be kept to the Gun Hill area of the beach.

John Winter said: “I don’t think we should have any restriction on this. Southwold is a traditional seaside place and we should not restrict it. We should give them a chance.”

●For more information about Park Gate Donkeys contact Mr Chenery at care@parkgatefarm.com

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