A cute three-year-old boy singing Happy Birthday to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, may well have been the highlight of the royal’s visit to The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon yesterday.
Jacob Leney also presented a posy at the end of the Duchess’s visit to the charity to commemorate the international animal welfare charity’s 50th anniversary, on her 72nd birthday.
Jacob, whose mum Naomi works in the charity’s Welfare department, first visited The Donkey Sanctuary when he was just one week old.
The Duchess officially named The Donkey Sanctuary’s latest arrival, a three-week-old foal. The foal, which the Duchess named Sweet Pea, was born into the care of the charity after her mum, Poppy, was relinquished to The Donkey Sanctuary when her owner could no longer care for her.
Camilla was welcomed to The Donkey Sanctuary by a group of year five and six students from Sidmouth Primary School. The Donkey Sanctuary’s CEO, Mike Baker, hosted the Duchess during the visit and gave her a tour of the charity’s global headquarters, which included the charity’s multi-award-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden that has recently been re-built at the Sanctuary.
The ‘Donkeys Matter’ garden scooped the coveted ‘People’s Choice Award’ in the Artisan category and was designed to showcase the charity’s international work, and to demonstrate how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world.
“The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit today was an opportunity to celebrate our landmark achievements over the last 50 years – from our foundation as a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse to a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care,” Baker said.
“It was also an opportunity to take stock of the massive challenges in a world where the suffering of animals remains abhorrent.
“I introduced Her Royal Highness to members of the International Coalition for Working Equids (ICWE), an organisation established to work with the World Organisation for Animal Health. ICWE is comprised of leading NGOs, including The Donkey Sanctuary, Brooke, SPANA and World Horse Welfare,” Baker said.
The Duchess also visited the charity’s Donkey-Facilitated Learning centre. The centre is one of six across the UK offering programmes specifically for vulnerable children and adults, with the aim of developing some of their key life skills as defined by the World Health Organisation.
Here, the Duchess met beneficiaries of Pete’s Dragons, an Exmouth-based charity that provides help and support for families bereaved by suicide. The East Devon charity recently partnered with The Donkey Sanctuary to provide key life skills sessions for some of their beneficiaries who described it as an ‘unforgettable experience’.
To conclude the visit, the Duchess attended a reception where she was presented with a birthday gift of Donkey Sanctuary branded Monopoly and a framed picture of Sweet Pea.