Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing
1168. Sarah McPherson
Sarah McPherson, from Norfolk, is the founder of ‘Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing’, a project which promotes positive mental wellbeing for dementia patients and other groups through therapeutic visits from miniature donkeys.
Sarah was inspired to create the initiative after caring for her parents, who both suffered from dementia, and witnessing first hand the positive benefit of interaction with animals. In their first year, Sarah’s seven donkeys and team of hard working volunteers visited more than 200 care homes, special schools and community groups. Her first donkey visit was to the nursing home where both of her parents had been living. The project has been awarded over £49,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund.
In a personal letter to Sarah, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Your therapeutic visits to care homes light up the days of those living with dementia. Your innovative work, which brings such joy to others, is a truly moving tribute to your parents.”
“When I started ‘Minidonks’ after the loss of my mum to dementia in 2017 I had no idea how far we would come in such a short time. We have been supported by so many people and companies, but the core to the whole thing is our volunteers. Our volunteers are amazing and accompany me on every single visit. I cannot describe the feeling of fulfilment when we visit a dementia setting, take one of our amazing minidonks into the bedroom of someone living with dementia, and their face just lights up. That is why we do it, and we are now reaching far more people in settings ranging from secure psychiatric units, autism youth clubs, Universities and Colleges, spreading a bit of Donkey Love as we go. To be recognised in this way by the Prime Minister is an honour and a bit of a gobsmacking surprise. Thank you!”