We live literally about 10 minutes away from Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary and I am ashamed to say we have never been there to visit. I often drive past and see all the lovely donkeys out in their fields. It reminds me that I must take the kids there but we have never been – until now!
There are so many donkeys to meet I was amazed! I hadn’t realised that as well as the large fields facing the road there are even more fields out the back. So many donkeys it was like donkey heaven! On arrival we went to reception first. A lovely lady gave us a leaflet and told us about the sanctuary. We then went through the gates into the main courtyard area. This links the fields to the stables. We met 2 donkeys who were happily wondering around among the visitors. This is where the visitor centre can be found. In there you can find the cafe and have something to eat. They sell cakes, drinks and ice creams from 20p upwards or you are welcome to take your own picnic. There are toys to play with, some souvenir gifts for sale and a TV screen showing the history of the sanctuary.
After a quick picnic in the visitor centre (we arrived at lunch time), we went outside to meet a male group of donkeys. We were told they were being kept in from the fields temporarily as the farrier was due to arrive to do their feet. They were all very friendly and were more than happy to be fussed by visitors. They were also very vocal whenever staff walked past, clearly wanting to make it known that they weren’t happy about being kept in! What struck me was that even within a few minutes you could see each donkey has its own personality. It was lovely to get to know some of them.
There were lots of staff and volunteers around mucking out stables and brushing the donkeys. Everyone we met was very friendly and happy to talk to us. One thing that really stands out is the love that every one of those people has for the donkeys. It’s this level of passion and care that keeps this wonderful sanctuary going. The Sanctuary relies totally on donations from the public to cover costs. They hold fundraisers such as table top sales, craft fairs and collectors fairs in the donkeys fields. As well as making a donation during your visit you can also adopt a donkey for just £15 a year which will go towards helping with their upkeep.
We adopted a donkey called Chocolate from here 2 years ago for Lois’s preschool class as a Xmas gift instead of presents. It went down a storm! Imagine the children’s excitement at having their very own adopted Christmas nativity donkey! We were thrilled to be able to meet Chocolate (see pic below with Lois!) during our visit. He is still available to adopt, as well as some of his friends. You can read more about donkey adoptions here: http://www.donkeyrescue.co.uk/adopt-a-donkey/.
We really enjoyed our visit to Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary and the children have already asked to go back and visit again. I love the fact that its free to enter. If you are able to make a donation then you are free to donate as little or as much as you can afford. There is no pressure. The donkeys are clearly very well looked after and are the main focus of all fundraising. The current fundraising appeal is to build an equine hospital at the site.
As a result of all fundraising going towards the care of the donkeys the site itself is a little rough and ready and is not geared towards being an all singing and dancing visitor attraction. The visitor centre is basic but has everything you could need including toilets and snacks on sale as well as disabled access. In total we spent just over an hour at the sanctuary including time to eat our picnic, although we could have happily stayed longer if we hadn’t had to get back in time for swimming lessons. We will most certainly be going back again. Huge respect to all the staff and volunteers for all the hard work they put in to caring for so many lovely donkeys. Keep up the great work!
- Toilets / Disabled Toilet Yes
- Pushchair / Wheelchair Friendly Yes
- Disabled Access
- Dog Friendly No dogs except assistance dogs
- Refreshments available Cafe serving drinks and light snacks
- Car Park Yes free parking on site
- Gift Shop Yes
- Baby facilities
Address: Old Didcot Road, Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 0SW
Price: FREE! (Please leave a donation in the box on your way out!)
Disclaimer: Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary staff and volunteers had no involvement in this review. All photos, words and opinions are that of my own