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Donkeys to return to Yarmouth beach

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 22 October 2010

Andy Parker, owner of Parker's Donkey World which is due to start up business on the beach at Great Yarmouth.

Andy Parker, owner of Parker's Donkey World which is due to start up business on the beach at Great Yarmouth.

It has been years since they were last seen on Yarmouth seafront. But this weekend donkeys will be making a welcome return to the Golden Mile.

It has been years since they were last seen on Yarmouth seafront.

But this weekend donkeys will be making a welcome return to the Golden Mile.

Four donkeys, previously seen working on Skegness beach, are now preparing to make their debut in Norfolk's busiest seaside resort after passing a veterinary check-up yesterday.

Their owner Andy Parker, 44, said he was bringing back donkey rides because he wanted to turn back the sands of time and recapture the traditional holiday of his youth.

"When I was a kid growing up in Liverpool I used to love holidays in Blackpool, especially the donkey rides," he said. "I moved to Yarmouth 10 years ago and have got five children, and they love going on holiday to towns with donkeys too.

"It's something Yarmouth's been missing for generations, but I spoke to the seafront management and they said it was a great idea, so here we are."

Mr Parker, a full-time builder who will run the donkey rides with wife Hayley and his elder daughters, bought Pinky, Dinky, Billy and Max from a donkey breeder in Skegness last month after converting a field in Caister into their new home.

"We're a long way behind Blackpool, which has 250 donkeys at the moment," he added. "But I reckon these will prove very popular with kids coming on holiday in Yarmouth.

"This will return tradition to the Golden Mile. At the moment people coming here think the seafront is all about arcades with dance machines - this will show them what a real British holiday is about."

Mrs Parker, 37, who will lead the donkey rides each day between Britannia and Wellington piers, said she was looking forward to getting started.

"I can't wait to get them on the beach," he said. "They need some proper exercise to stop them eating all the grass up here.

"I'll be doing the donkey work, but it will be nice to bring tradition back to Yarmouth. And ours are very thereaputic, as they've got such a lovely nature.

"Yarmouth is known as a seaside resort, and I think these donkeys will do a lot to help people remember that."

The donkeys will each work a six-day week, from 10am to 5pm - with an hour's lunch break and plenty of offers of free water from the cafés lining the seafront.

On hand to offer advice to the family business will be the Donkey Sanctuary, a charity that inspects mules in each seaside resorts they can be found in each year.

Yesterday Shelagh Steel, the charity's regional welfare officer for the east of England, said the Parkers' donkeys were in the prime of health.

She said: "It is tremendous to see them back in Yarmouth. Donkeys love children and love working on the beach.

"I think this will be a very successful enterprise and wouldn't be at all surprised if Andy isn't buying some more before long."

Bert Collins, Yarmouth Borough Council cabinet member for tourism, added: "I think it's a very positive move bringing back donkeys to Yarmouth.

"I can't remember the last time they were on the beach, but it was certainly a very long time ago. Having them back adds another string to our bow, another fine attraction for the beach.

"We are very keen on promoting Yarmouth's heritage at the moment, and this is a key part of that. I hope it will be a very successful business."

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