members card iconSign in ?

Meet Alan the Christmas donkey

Image of Radcliff-case-study-1.jpg for Meet Alan the Christmas donkey

Together, we're fundraising for local animal charities and sanctuaries through our Community Champions scheme. Here's just one of their stories.

With their trusting eyes and hard-working temperament, there’s so much to love about donkeys. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop them from being neglected.

It was just after one Christmas that Alan found himself alone in a Birmingham car park.

He’d been tied to a lamppost and abandoned. The glow from the light highlighted his ribs and the lice in his matted fur. Fortunately, some members of the public had alerted Tracy.

Tracy Garton hadn't planned to rescue donkeys but couldn't bear not to help animals in need. Eventually, she'd sold her house to turn derelict land in Huttoft into Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary.

It’d been a bad winter at the sanctuary, but she couldn’t turn Alan away. After gaining his trust – helped by a ginger biscuit – Tracy and her husband Steve rescued him.

Fast-forward to today and Alan is a happy resident at the couple's sanctuary along with his zedonk pal, a zebra and donkey cross named Tigger.

“Some of the rescues are hard to handle at first. We turn them round, but it takes months of patience,” says Tracy.

Alan helped the sanctuary in return. The following winter he donned antlers for a nativity fundraiser, becoming a local celebrity and even star of book Alan the Christmas Donkey.

He’s one of 50 donkeys at the sanctuary along with a menagerie of other rescues, including two more zebra crosses, mules, horses and ponies, hens and ducks.

“It all started in 1992 when we rescued a mule called Muffin,” says Tracy.

“We got him a Skegness beach donkey as a companion, and then people kept telling us about others which needed rescuing.

“We rented more land and kept taking them in. Until Lincolnshire Co-op raised money for us to buy our first horsebox, we had to hire one for each rescue.”

Eventually the couple sold their house in Nottingham and moved to Huttoft in 1999, building today’s sanctuary from scratch.

It’s just the place to help animals mend. There are green fields and warm stables, and swallows flit through the sky in summer. Visitors give a small donation to meet the residents.

It all takes long days, lots of mucking out and many volunteers. Paying for the animals’ complex health needs is expensive, and the sanctuary also desperately needs a barn.

It’s all worth it, Tracy says, to see the donkeys happy: “I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life.”

Every time you shop with your dividend card, until March, you'll be helping us support local animal charities and sanctuaries. Click here to find out more.

cookie icon Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. These cookies ensure our core functionality works, such as signing into your membership account and keeping our website secure.

We also use analytics cookies to help us make improvements to our website experience by evaluating how visitors use the site. You can manage these cookies by clicking the below button.

More information on this can be found on our cookies page and privacy policy.

cookie icon Manage my cookies

Necessary cookies

We use necessary cookies to enable core functionality on our website such as security, network management and for our membership area to work. You may choose to disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

To help us continue to improve our website, we’d like to use Google Analytics cookies which will provide us with information on how you use the site. These cookies collect general behaviour information and doesn’t directly identify anyone. More information on how these cookies work can be found on our cookies page.