“Dinky Donkey” puts spotlight on Christmases past

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A charming Christmas animation developed by international working horse and donkey charity Brooke is putting the spotlight on the lives of working donkeys around the world.

The animation, supported by TV star Pam St Clement, invites the viewer to imagine if they relied on the humble donkey to get their Christmas dinner, as Victorians would likely have.

It depicts a paper “Dinky Donkey” helping at the Christmas dinner table, and aims to remind people that working animals are not just a thing of the past.

Donkeys have been a familiar feature of Christmas for centuries, but they were also once a familiar feature of rural and urban streets. Along with horses and mules, they were the powerhouses driving buses, working in coal mines and carrying food carts in the early 20th Century, and had a major impact on the First World War.

Today, they have largely disappeared from modern life in Britain, but there are in fact still 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules working to provide food, water and a living to 600 million people worldwide.

Pam St Clement, best known for playing Albert Square’s Pat Butcher in EastEnders, is a supporter of Brooke because of her link to working animals. She was brought up on a hill farm in the 1950s which relied on two heavy horses.

“We had two lovely horses and couldn’t have done without them. We didn’t have an alternative. And that’s the reality for so many people living in poorer communities in developing countries. I think we often forget that people rely on horses and donkeys to earn a living and put food on the table.”

Pam St Clement's family relied on heavy horses to work their farm. "I think we often forget that people rely on horses and donkeys to earn a living and put food on the table.”
Pam St Clement’s family relied on heavy horses to work their farm. “I think we often forget that people rely on horses and donkeys to earn a living and put food on the table.” © Brooke/John Cairns

Despite their contribution, working animals are often overlooked. Brooke, a charity set up after the First World War to help war horses, today improves the lives of horses, donkeys and mules in over 10 countries around the world, training vets and other animal health workers, and helping owners better care for their animals.

Below, Wendy Turner-Webster, Brooke supporter and television presenter known for Crafty Beggars, shows how to make an origami Dinky Donkey.

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