DREAMS have come true for the hardworking owners and volunteers behind a donkey sanctuary that – thanks to an extremely generous donation – will now be transformed with a new log cabin visitor centre.
The Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary has received a generous donation of £5,000 from CherryIsland Nursery, which is part of CherryChildcare, after it was chosen as the cause most worthwhile by the group.
CherryChildcare had been looking for a community project to support for some time, and the sanctuary was chosen because it is a big part of the island’s community, and the nursery children visit and love the animals there.
It comes one month after the sanctuary’s owners, Paul and Tracy Hunt, put out a plea to the public to help them raise £5,000 to build the visitor centre – which they have now been granted permission to do by Havant Borough Council.
Paul said: ‘This has given us a lifeline. A cash injection like this will help us move forward and achieve our goals – the visitor centre being one of many.
‘We were in disbelief when we found out and we have a heartfelt appreciation for what the nursery group has done for us. A massive thanks goes to them because we were kind of stuck moving forward. It’s wonderful.’
CherryChildcare has 11 nurseries including two on Hayling and one in Langstone.
The sanctuary cares for 15 donkeys.
Jade Thomas, manager of CherryIsland at Mill Rythe School, said: ‘We chose the sanctuary because it’s such a worthwhile cause. We want to help them achieve their goals in building a visitor centre.
‘It’s really close to us and our children visit them, some of them even sponsor the donkeys, and the owners and volunteers put in so much hard work to care for them.
‘We met with them previously to finalise our decision and we knew the sanctuary was the right choice.
‘It’s an asset to the community, the donkeys have been all over the island this Christmas.’
The visitor centre will mean people can visit the donkeys in a safe and enjoyable way, with the idea being to change the site and have the visitor centre as the focal point.
Nigel Rolfe, director of CherryChildcare, which also has other nurseries in Hampshire and in Surrey and Buckinghamshire, said: ‘It’s wonderful to make a donation that will enable the donkey sanctuary to care for the donkeys, but also bring happiness to so many people, not just now but for years to come.’
CherryChildcare staff met with Paul and Tracy to give them the cheque for £5,000.