Donkeys have been a big part of Island life over the years. In fact, since 1696, donkeys have worked at Carisbrooke Castle, fetching water; see our post about Carisbrooke Castle HERE. In the 1930’s, donkey taxis took people up the hill from the beach in Ventnor. Also, donkeys were used to pull the milk carts and laundry carts. And, of course, seaside towns had donkeys for rides on the beach.
Where it Began
In 1987, Charlie, a local postman, adopted a donkey called Dillon. Charlie and his wife Cheryl bought a small piece of land near Newport for Dillon to live on. Then, people would turn up with donkeys that were abandoned or had been rescued. In 1991, a Sanctuary was registered as a charity and in 1994, it relocated to Wroxall, where it is today. The charity ticked over with generous donations from the public, but it was hard work to keep it going.
Hard Times to a Thriving Sanctuary
The Sanctuary had always struggled to pay for the required care, and in 2012, it almost had to close. However, a new group of trustees determined to save the Sanctuary held a fundraising appeal, which was very successful. Then, the mainland Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth provided a loan to help the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary get through the winter.
Since then, the Sanctuary has won many awards and received some much-needed funding. Over the past ten years, the Sanctuary has gone from strength to strength and has built barns, weather shelters and care buildings for the animals. Today, there are walkways for the public to get up and close to the donkeys and even a café to enjoy refreshments. And please do visit the café as all profits go back to care for these lovely residents.
The Donkey Sanctuary has several events throughout the year, including a Christmas Fair, concert and Halloween; visit the official website HERE.