‘Midsomer’ star lends voice to desperate plight of coal mine donkeys


Television’s Midsomer Murders star John Nettles is the voice of the new television advert for British charity Brooke, which works to protect and improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in developing countries.

John Nettles
John Nettles, the star of Midsomer Murders. © Jon Furniss/ gettyimages.com/ IMDB

The actor, who is best known for playing DCI Barnaby in the hit ITV series, lent his voice to the advert which supports Brooke’s recent campaign highlighting the terrible conditions suffered by donkeys working in coal mines.

Nettles is a self-confessed animal lover and owns several horses and two rescue donkeys. “I heard about Brooke a few years ago, and since then I’ve learnt about some of the brilliant and vital action they’re taking worldwide to help working horses, donkeys and mules – training vets, providing treatment and working to improve animal welfare policy,” Nettles said.

The advert tells the harrowing story of Chittoo, just one of thousands of donkeys working in the dark and claustrophobic environment of the Pakistan coal mines. The equines and their owners work in deep narrow tunnels, and are in extreme danger of injuries, malnutrition and dehydration. The advert is running on various TV channels and is on Brooke’s Youtube channel.

“I have always loved equines, and our home is a refuge for them. We have seven horses, all rescues, and two donkeys called Achilles and Hector,” Nettles said.

“Maybe because of the spiritual significance, I think people expect donkeys to be stoic and solemn but they’re children really – funny, playful and above all curious.

More than 100,000 donkeys work in coal mines in Pakistan.
More than 100,000 donkeys work in coal mines in Pakistan.

“They are so beautiful and make getting up in the morning worthwhile. I was delighted to do this voiceover for them and hope it helps to raise more awareness of the plight of working horses, donkeys and mules overseas.”

Some 115,000 of Pakistan’s 4.7 million horses, donkeys and mules work in these treacherous coal mines every day. Brooke works with local vets and service providers to improve welfare problems such as lesions and exhaustion due to overloading, and dehydration. The charity also provides training and support to equine owning communities.

To help, go to www.thebrooke.org/chittoo.

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