Island donkeys take centre stage on Channel 4 show

The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary featured live on Channel 4’s The Steph Show on Tuesday lunchtime.

The show’s producers have been following the Sanctuary‘s social media platforms during the period of Coronavirus lockdown, and were really impressed by the Sanctuary’s determination to ‘take the Sanctuary to the people’, because supporters couldn’t visit the Sanctuary during this period of restrictions.

David Hayles, who looks after the Sanctuary’s website and social media said: “We created the ‘Virtual Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary’ via our social media platforms, and every day we’ve had stories, videos, updates on all the donkeys, educational items and, of course, some humour for everybody to read and interact with.

“People have wanted to see something positive during these anxious times and they have loved joining in with our stories about our rescued donkeys at a time when they can’t visit. It seems to have resonated with people and brought a real smile to their faces. Steph Mcgovern, the presenter of The Steph Show, was trying to do the same thing, bring some positivity to people’s lives at the moment, and thought the Sanctuary was a good example to show what could be achieved. Channel 4 contacted me , and after a lot of prep work we were on the show.”

The videos were put together by Lucy Smith, one of the Sanctuary’s apprentices, and she managed to combine her daily duties of mucking out the animals, feeding them, giving them their medicines and moving them from stables to paddocks, with the task of recording the donkeys having their daily fun.

Lucy said: “Sometimes, the animals are fascinated by the camera and want to help, sometimes they pose, but most of the time they carry on running around, eating and generally causing happy mayhem!”

The Sanctuary, like other animal charities, is facing an extremely difficult time during the Coronavirus lockdown, but is positive about the future.

Charity Manager Derek Needham said: “Like many other organisations on the Island, Easter would have been our busiest period for visitors. Even during the lockdown period, we have significant costs involved in looking after the animals and these costs can’t be offset by visitor income at the present time.

“We are losing money, and the economics of running any kind of charity now are very difficult. However we are no different to anybody else on the island – families, businesses or charities; we have to keep everybody safe, do the best we can, make the best plan we can, tough it out and makes sure we are still here to have the best time ever when lockdown finishes. We think that if we all pull together and get through this, the Island could have the best late summer and autumn for a long time!”

Meanwhile, for the donkeys, life is one long sunny day in the fields. They are getting all their needs met and receiving the care they deserve. One day soon they will be renewing their friendships with the people in the care homes on the Island, people in Alzheimer centres and, of course, with the myriads of schools and general visitors who enjoy the peace and tranquility of the donkeys on the Wroxall site.