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'Hay! You missed your stop' - Miniature donkey takes the bus as charity looks for Big Lottery funding

PUBLISHED: 17:17 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:17 02 April 2019

MiniDonks founder, Sarah McPherson, exploring a BorderBus with a MiniDonk, Beccles.  PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

MiniDonks founder, Sarah McPherson, exploring a BorderBus with a MiniDonk, Beccles. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

It’s a mini charity that needs a big slice of lottery funding - and just try saying no to that adorable face.

MiniDonks founder, Sarah McPherson, exploring a BorderBus with a MiniDonk, Beccles.  PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodMiniDonks founder, Sarah McPherson, exploring a BorderBus with a MiniDonk, Beccles. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing, also known as Minidonks, offers cathartic experiences with miniature donkeys, and is in the running for a slice of funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

And on Tuesday the Hempnall cause, started by Sarah McPherson, got a helping hand from Beccles-based Border Bus as one of their therapy donkeys trotted around one of the firm’s double deckers.

Ms McPherson started the charity after a personal loss.

“It all began in 2017 after I lost my mum - both my mother and father had dementia and I saw the effect the donkeys had on them,” Ms McPherson said.

The Border Bus team are supporting MiniDonks to raise awareness for their funding bid from The Peoples Project, Beccles. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe Border Bus team are supporting MiniDonks to raise awareness for their funding bid from The Peoples Project, Beccles. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Following her mother’s death, she quit her job and poured her life savings into Minidonks.

Now she travels across Norfolk and Suffolk offering people the chance to step away from their hardships, nuzzle into a miniature donkey and get lost in their big, brown eyes.

“People always comment on their eyes and eyelashes - we always joke we have done their make up.

“We visit people who are blind and we bring the donkey right up to their face so they can feel the whiskers,” she said.

MiniDonks founder, Sarah McPherson, exploring a BorderBus with a MiniDonk, Beccles.  PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodMiniDonks founder, Sarah McPherson, exploring a BorderBus with a MiniDonk, Beccles. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

In the last two years, the donkeys have walked through countless nursing homes, hospitals as well as schools.

With help from her dedicated volunteers, she has also visited students at UEA to alleviate stress during the exam period.

“I am not going to say stroking a donkey won’t stop people from wanting to commit suicide, but it could lift their spirits for a day, we always say to people ‘you can come volunteer’,” she said.

The donkeys will take a trip to All Hallows Hospital to uplift patients on Monday and visit the Aylsham Blind Club the following day.

Groups across the county are competing for a share of £50,000 of funding to continue to enhance the lives of people within their community.

“We need this lottery bid to be financially sustainable. It would help us for the next three years.

“I have ploughed my life savings in this - I am quite a cynic, but sometimes I have to kick myself and say this is really happening,” she said.

To vote for Minidonks, visit www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk

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