Residents at Woodbridge Lodge care home were thrilled to greet VIP guests Saffron and Baby Jack.
Taking pet therapy to a whole new level, the four-legged visitors from Mini Donkeys for Wellbeing make faces light up whenever they make their grand entrance at care homes across Suffolk and Norfolk.
But their visit to Kingsley Healthcare-run Woodbridge Lodge, in Burkitt Road, Woodbridge, had a special significance – for five of the residents contributed recipes to a cook book being launched by the social enterprise to raise vital funds.
Sylvia Bennett’s recipe is for Victoria Sponge; Irene Mulley, fruit jam; Rosemary Stammers, jam tarts and Doreen Broom, steamed apple; Sheila Bush who has sadly since passed away leaves a delicious bread pudding recipe as her legacy.
The home’s award-winning chef Denise Rastrick prepared all the dishes in honour of the visit which took place ahead of the official launch of the book - Maude's Makes and Bakes – at The Assembly House, Norwich, on July 24.
Alongside recipes from care home residents are those contributed by supporters of “Mini Donks”, including celebrity chef and joint majority shareholder of Norwich City, Delia Smith, Richard Hughes, chef director of The Assembly House and Lady Dannatt, HM Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.
Kingsley Healthcare’s regional operations director Georgina Johnston, who has contributed a recipe for Welsh Tea Loaf, said: “As a company, we have been proud to sponsor the donkeys for a second year.
“It has been a difficult time for the organisation with donkey visits not being able to go ahead during the lockdowns.
“It’s marvellous how the donkeys can even go into the rooms of bed-bound residents. They never fail to bring a smile to people’s faces.”
Mini Donks volunteer Linda White, who has been the driving force behind the cook book, said: “During the lockdowns we were not able to take the donkeys out to the homes. I did not want Mini Donks to fade away and worked on ideas to keep up its profile.
“Food memories are so important to everyone so I thought a cookbook would be a good way to raise funds. The response has been amazing. We have more than 50 recipes.”
Woodbridge Lodge residents were delighted to stroke Saffron and her foal Baby Jack who will be celebrating his first birthday on August 1.
Mini Donks founder Sarah McPherson, from Hempnall, south of Norwich, was supporting her mother Patricia Little through the later stages of dementia when she discovered that donkeys were the one thing that really brought a smile back to her face.
“The calm nature of the donkeys made her calm and it made her smile which was something that had become quite rare,” she said.
Following her mother’s death three years ago, Ms McPherson resolved to let others enjoy the therapeutic benefits of her donkeys and set up her social enterprise called Mini Donkeys for Wellbeing.
She said: “It is tremendous to see how the donkeys spark so many memories when we go around the care homes.
“It brings back memories of donkey rides as children and, in Norfolk and Suffolk, many people come from a farming background and may have had a donkey.”
To pre-order a copy of the recipe book contact the team through the website https://www.minidonks.org.uk/
Caption Wood donkey3, from left, with Linda White from Mini Donks, residents Doreen Broom, Sylvia Bennett and Irene Mulley who all contributed recipes.
Wood donkey. Activities team Lena Hoggarth and Claire Green with Irene Mulley and Saffron.
Author: Stephen Pullinger