Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary: Donkey named after Only Fools and Horses star has died at the age of 28

The Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary team is ‘gutted’ after their beloved Boyce died – aged 28.
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The 28-year-old, who was named after the character played by John Challis in Only Fools and Horses, spent his retirement years with the team at the sanctuary.

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He had a number of health problems that the team had to help him with, and Paul Hunt, one of the co-founders, said that it meant that everyone became attached to him due to his additional needs.

Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary have said goodbye to their beloved Boyce.Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary have said goodbye to their beloved Boyce.
Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary have said goodbye to their beloved Boyce.

During his time on Hayling Island, Boyce also got to meet the famous Boycie when John Challis paid the sanctuary a visit to officially open new shelters, and adopt the donkey that paid homage to his acting.

Paul said: ‘He was basically at the end of his working life and so he came to live at the sanctuary with us rather than being processed.

‘He had quite a lot of problems regarding his health but he was coming up to 30 years old and he soldiered on until the end. He seemed to always bounce back and he was such a character.

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‘It is unbelievable the response that we have had. We put a Facebook post out about his health problems and then another one saying that we had lost him, but he got an amazing amount of following.’

Last week, Paul and his wife, Tracey, noticed that Boyce was in respiratory distress and they called the Liphook Equine Hospital, who originally believed his condition to be asthma – but they wanted to investigate further.

Whilst in hospital, 30 litres of fluid had to be drained from Boyce, and the vets made the ‘heartbreaking’ discovery that he was riddled with cancer.

The next day, the donkey made a bit of an improvement and so Paul wanted Boyce home to be with his family on his last few days.

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Paul added: ‘We just wanted to bring him home to the sanctuary and get him some peaceful time with his pals.

‘We all just feel pretty gutted. The place doesn’t feel the same, it feels really empty even though all of the other donkeys are walking about. I think they all feel the same too. The day that he passed away, a lot of them were being very needy.’

The sanctuary began after Paul and Tracey got two donkeys, and the idea of opening up a place for donkeys to live safely came to mind. The pair have been working with the animals for years and they have built up a reputable name for themselves as a not-for-profit organisation.

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‘A lot of the animals that we get are unwanted and haven’t been treated nicely and it is amazing that they are able to overcome that and actually like being around people,’ said Paul.

‘These animals are magical and they make people feel peaceful inside and it is an honour to work with them.’

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