Social enterprise Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing awarded National Lottery Legend Award
A social enterprise has been awarded a prestigious National Lottery Legend Award, receiving a whopping £59,780 in funding.
Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing is a project that takes donkeys to a range of organisations and events across Norfolk and Suffolk, including dementia services, care homes, voluntary organisations and even weddings and funerals, with the aim of improving wellbeing and spreading joy.
Founder Sarah McPherson, 56, set up the enterprise after losing her mother to dementia two years ago.
She said: “I first realised that particular animals might have a therapeutic role during a particularly difficult phase of mum’s dementia.
“When mum was out in the yard with the donkeys, I’d get a bit of her back.”
With the help of volunteers, Sarah, from Hempnall Green, started the venture to bring the benefits of interacting with mini donkeys to as wide an audience as possible.
Her first donkey visit was to the nursing home where both of her parents had been residents, and she used her life savings to get the project off the ground.
“We make people happy and particularly those in the later stages of dementia,” said Sarah. “That’s so important because it can be such a lonely place to be.
“I’m elated to have won such a prestigious award but, more than anything, it feels wonderful to be making such a difference to people who need it the most.”
The National Lottery Legend Award recognises a person that has made an outstanding contribution to their local area.
The £59,780 funding has been put towards purchasing a purpose-built van nicknamed the Donkmobile and also helped the project remain sustainable.
Sarah joined a host of stars at a glittering ceremony on BBC One, hosted by TV presenter and former Strictly winner Ore Oduba.
It will air on November 19 on BBC One – 25 years to the day since the first National Lottery draw took place.