Category Archives: Event

Eastern Region 4th Donkey Camp at Abbey Farm, East Walton, North Norfolk

donkey 1

Eastern Region members visited Abbey Farm, East Walton in September for a relaxed weekend of donkeys and driving, kindly hosted by Bill and Rachel Lewis who have a pair of driving donkeys, Jimmy and Timmy.

Five members set up camp on the Friday.   Carole and Dave (Mandy and Tin) managed a drive out before being joined later in the day by Emma (Penny and Bart) and Diane and John (Amos).

On Saturday three more turnouts arrived, Jo (Flora), Gill (Jack) and Alan and David with (Harry Potter).  To help we had three grooms, Lucy, Emma and Christina, who were very interested to learn about driving donkeys.

Whilst harnessing up a local cub group walked through the farm yard and seeing they were interested in what was going on Jo introduced them to Flora.

Sadly the weather wasn’t behaving but we carried on regardless.  The land rover was loaded with rugs for the proposed halfway stop at West Acre and with Bill and his pair in the lead we headed down a small lane to avoid the lakes on the track opposite.

Once off road we could see the beautiful countryside but the rain was a constant threat.

As some of the group found the weather and ground conditions difficult they took a circular route back to the camp site whilst four turnouts continued to the Stag Inn at West Acre where we had the car park to ourselves so parked our carriages in the parkbays, let the donkeys graze in hand on the lawn and enjoyed a platter of mixed sandwiches and beverages.

On our return we learned that Norfolk has hills.

The walk and trot back to camp was most enjoyable, Emma’s pair had valuable experience of being in the company of other turnouts, all the donkeys enjoyed the freedom of trotting along grass tracks with no traffic and had experience of pigs (thdidn’t care), real water features and uneven terrain.

On returning we had a little relax with some in hand confidence building which was no problem at all to the donkeys.

As it was camp we had to have fish and chips for tea.  With no chance of eating outside, it was just too cold and wet, we settled on the feed barn and enjoyed a friendly evening of donkey chat.

On Sunday the weather was kinder.  The sun appeared and the sandy tracks had dried a little.

donkey 17Jill and her sister joined us on Sunday with Mix and Match.

Again to avoid the worst of the wet tracks we did a little road work then headed off across the Norfolk countryside.

donkey 15The area you can drive on is vast and we were very lucky on both days to be escorted by Bill as many of the tracks we used didn’t appear on my map.

The scenery varied from trees to open countryside.

It was a most enjoyable weekend and we have already booked for next year.

donkey 16




Webster Walks – in memory of a beloved donkey

Webster himself, relaxing

Webster himself, relaxing

The Webster fund was started in 2007 following the untimely death at the age of 22 of a donkey known as Webster.  He was lovable and gentle and one of a group of donkeys involved in both a RDA group and a small club for youngsters with additional needs from two local special schools.

Webster was not the most forward donkey to drive as a single but in tandem as the wheeler is was a joy to drive.  He was also driven in a pair and as a team.  He was also ridden and spent two years on loan to an RDA group in Berkshire where he took additional needs young adults for rides in a cart specially adapted for a wheelchair.

A donation of £50 was made by this group to start a fund in memory of Webster and this has become an annual event starting with a walk starting with Websters friend’s and his sister Teazel and a few visiting donkeys on a single walk in 2008.  In 2014 the DBS regions were invited to organise their own walks and this has continued every year since.

Each year a group club or individual who uses their donkey for therapeutic work with children or young adults is chosen to be the recipient of whatever monies are raised on the Webster Walks.

Donations have been made as far afield as Ethiopia, Spain and Israel as well as the UK and to date these have amounted to more than 11,000 pounds.

All of this in memory of a beloved donkey who gave so much pleasure to so many people.  He was born two weeks early to a rescued mare and from that moment became part of our lives and through the Webster Walks is never forgotten.

The day the donkeys went to London

On the 1st Jan every year since 1993, several members of the DBS take part in the New Year’s Day London Parade.  The parade has grown since it started in 1987 and is one of the biggest in the world with up to 10,000 performers.

The parade starts at 12 noon in Picadilly and winds around Picadilly Circus, across Trafalger Square, down Whitehall to the finish in Parliament Square.  About 500,000 people line the streets and there is a worldwide audience of 300 million.  Around £1.5 million has been raised for charity since its inception.

Participants range from an entry from each London Borough, steam traction engines, pearly kings and queens, costume societies, bike clubs, marching bands and many more.  The parade is very colourful, busy and loud!

Around 50 members usually take part with around 30 donkeys.  They are driven, lead and ridden around the route by their owners.  The DBS group is preceded by the banner holders and all the participants wear the distinctive blue fleeces of the society.  There is also a special rosette for every participant and everyone attending collects a medal.

Any member is welcome to join the parade, with or without donkeys, more donkeys and helpers are always needed.  Invitations go out in the DBS publication Bray Talk.

Pictures by Stephen and Helen Jones on Flickr

The Donkey Breed Society - LNYDP 2015

Donkeys bring magic to Malvern, Saturday 20th December 2014

On Saturday 20th December, Great Malvern residents can take a break from last minute Christmas shopping to enjoy the annual Christmas Donkey Procession and join in the carol singing.

Donkeys from all over the three counties and beyond will be converging on the town, including Peter, a very handsome chap who is something of a  donkey celebrity, having won two classes at the Royal Three Counties Show this year and modelled donkey-wear in Countrywide Farmers’ latest equine catalogue.

The festivities will kick off at 12 noon, when the donkeys in their festive garlands, accompanied by the Malvern Donkey Procession Choir wearing gorgeous Christmas costumes, will gather at the Priory Gatehouse to sing traditional carols with the public.

At 12.45, the donkeys and singers will join the Trench Choir on Belle Vue Terrace for a special event to commemorate the famous 1914 Christmas Armistice on the Western Front, when British and German soldiers met in No Man’s Land to exchange gifts and sing carols together.  The procession will then continue along Belle Vue Terrace and down Church Street, making various carol-singing stops along the way, before arriving outside the Malvern Theatres to greet Christmas panto-goers with festive songs.

At 3pm, the procession will culminate in a nativity play with carols staged in a specially built Christmas stable in the grounds of Malvern Priory.  Local children and members of the Malvern Donkey Procession Choir will take the parts and the public are warmly invited to attend this very special start to Christmas week.

As always, the Malvern Christmas Donkey Procession will collect donations for the Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land, a small charity run by a former British Airways stewardess, which operates a sanctuary and provides veterinary care and animal husbandry education on the Israel-Palestine border.  Reverend Val Needham, the procession organiser, says “What better way to remember the role played by the donkey in the Christmas story than by easing the suffering of donkeys in the Middle East today?”

For more information, or to take part, please contact either Rev. Val Needham on 07788 111113 or, or Clare Dolan on 07881 582075 or


– Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land (SHADH) is a registered charity (charity number 1083468) which runs a sanctuary and provides veterinary care for donkeys, mules and horses in Israel and Palestine.  For more information on SHADH, please visit

– Rev. Val Needham is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and a retired interfaith minister. A publisher of music and meditation tapes for thirty years, her work was distributed worldwide.  She ended her performing career in 1993, heading the finale at Wembley Arena for the Earth Alignment Concert, with her band The Warriors of Grace.  Rev. Needham now organises the annual May Day and Christmas Donkey Processions around Great Malvern, hand-making the wonderful costumes and garlands.

The Trench Choir was set up by Malvern choirmaster William Coleman to commemorate the centenary of World War 1 by giving performances of songs from the era.  The Trench Choir regularly performs around Malvern and the Three Counties area.  For more information and performance dates, please e mail

Christmas Donkeys in Malvern Saturday 20th Dec 2014

There is a Christmas Donkey Procession and Nativity play in the grounds of Great Malvern Priory on Saturday December 20th 2014.

Last Saturday, down at the Malvern Library on Saturday, five year old Mia Zolman  who will play Mary in the Malvern Donkey Procession Choir’s Nativity play on Saturday December 20th at 3pm, met Daisy, the rescue donkey, she will ride into  the grounds of Great Malvern Priory  to that welcome stable.

MIa delighted everyone as she serenaded Malvern’s Mayor and all the families gathered there to meet our rescue donkeys,  Daisy and Lily and Poppy,our guest canine with her  human companion Chiara Regan, with her solo of the children’s carol ‘Mary and Joseph’ during the Malvern Donkey Procession Choir’s Carols performance at the Malvern Library on Saturday November 29th as part of the  Big Switch On Celebrations.

Her Mother Cat Goodwin was even more  proud when  Mia’s seven year old sister Thea Zolman, accompanied the Donkey Choir and Garry Low on djembe to all our Carols  while Mia whirled and cha cha cha-ed to the impressed delight  of all the watching crowd..

Thea had taught herself all the tunes at home and the two children brought a freshness and joy to everyone there.

Es Hoyle and members of the Trench choir brought a more thoughtful note as they performed some of the carols echoing from the WW1 trenches on Christmas Eve 1914 as an appetiser to their Commemorative Christmas Eve WW1 1914 performance on Belle Vue Island at 12.45 on December 20th.

They join Reverend Val Needham and the Malvern Donkey Procession team and their other guests, Hennesea, with the première of their latest single which we recorded with them and the downloads for which, will all go to Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land for the entire month of December.

Come and join the donkeys and friends for their annual Christmas Donkeys Procession on Saturday December 20th starting at the Abbey Hotel at 12 noon.

carol singing christmas donkeys 20th December 2014IMG_0326(1)

Donkey Breed Society 43rd annual Championship Show

The Donkey Breed Society annual championship show took place on Saturday the 16th August 2014 at Broomfield Hall, Derby College.

The weather was kind and this was a great day, lots of stunning donkeys on show and a very friendly atmosphere. Junior entries were strong and of an excellent standard.  In hand and driven classes were also well supported and again the standard was very good.  It was a very enjoyable show.

Facilities at the Equestrian Centre for Derby College were excellent with plenty of parking and overnight stays a possibility for those coming from further afield.

The Supreme Champion was Gamlingay Legend, owned by Jane Bramwell.   Full results and score sheets including in hand, driving and junior Gymkhana can be found on the website

There is plenty on offer at the championship show and this year a special junior section allowed the juniors to show the agility and obedience of their donkeys.

If you have donkeys and want to find out about showing and possibly attending the championship show next year, please get in touch.  There are lots of people who can offer practical advice on how to show your donkey.

Official photographs were taken by Frances Kay and can be viewed/ordered online from

DBS Championship show 19th Oct 2014driving donkeys nice

Donkeys at Malvern Showground Autumn Festival 27th, 28th September 2014

The Donkey Breed Society had a great day at Malvern Three Counties Showground on the 27th September 2014.  The weather was fabulous and there was lots to see and do.  This is a great event for families and especially those interested in country living and animals.

This show usually takes place the last weekend of September.  Next year it will be the 26th and 27th September.  Put the date in your diary.

There was an impressive display of Autumn vegetables in the National Giant Vegetables Show. There is a write up on The Royal Horticultural Society website.

One of the highlights was meeting the animals in the World of Animals section sponsored by Bredon school.  All sorts of animals and breeds were represented including donkeys.

The donkeys were representing the Donkey Breed Society a charity that works to promote interest and knowledge of donkeys in general.

The donkeys also made an appearance in the World of Animals parade which included native sheep, horse and pony breeds.

The Donkey Breed Society stand was raising money for The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth and the people from DBS were very happy to answer questions on anything donkeys related.

For details of the Donkey Breed Society and how to join, please see the About section of this blog.

DBS carrots malvern DBS Malvern 8th Oct 2014 DBS Peter