Blackpool beach donkeys looking forward to a Christmas break ... in Wigan

Forget turkey and Brussel sprouts - these donkeys are looking forward to extra carrots this Christmas!

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 6:30 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:01 pm
A herd of donkeys from Blackpool and St Annes rest for the winter season at Latham House Farm, Kitt Green, Wigan

The drove of 24 donkeys spend their summers giving rides on the beaches at Blackpool and St Annes.

But they are spending their winter - and Christmas Day - at a farm in Kitt Green.

The Morris family have spent the past 16 years homing donkeys between November and Easter.

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Gillian Morris feeds a herd of donkeys from Blackpool and St Annes, as they rest for the winter season

They mostly eat carrots, hay, straw, grass and even sandwiches.

And while Sunday will be a normal day for the donkeys, they might get an extra treat.

Farmer Gillian Morris said: “I will probably have an extra carrot for them.”

The carrots will be well-earned as the donkeys will play a key role in a nativity on Christmas Eve .

Gillian Morris feeds a herd of donkeys from Blackpool and St Annes, as they rest for the winter season

Mrs Morris will walk one of the donkeys to StFrancis of Assisi Church, before walking back with the congregation from St Barnabas’ and St Francis’ for a nativity in the farmyard at 3.45pm.

It is a popular event, which even sees the donkeys braying along to the Christmas carols.

Mrs Morris and her family started taking in the donkeys at their farm on Latham Lane after hearing that they needed a home for the winter.

She said: “We had a bit of space at the time and my husband has always had a soft spot for donkeys from his childhood.”

They provide plenty for the donkeys to eat and drink and people regularly go to visit.

Mrs Morris said: “They entertain themselves. They are not hard work.

“You get warm feelings back from them and they put their head on your shoulder and steal your coat. They’re lovely. It’s like having lots of naughty little boys.”

Mum-of-two Mrs Morris runs the farm with her husband Jimmy and his brother Eric.

They have other animals there, including their own donkey Tim, who is 37 years old and was previously based in Blackpool.

But there are concerns about the future of the farm, as it is part of a site identified for development in the draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Mrs Morris is fighting the plans. She has launched a petition and even recruited one of the donkeys to walk around the streets with a board on his back asking not to be made homeless.

She said: “We are under threat of losing the farm. It would leave the donkeys without a farm if that happened.

“It’s a very stressful time for us. Everyone loves the donkeys.

“I hope it gets turned down because we don’t want to lose the farm. My son desperately wants to be a farmer like his dad and his uncle.”

She hopes the donkeys will help to secure the farm’s future.

“The woman who owns the donkeys said they will swing it for us because they are lucky animals, so hopefully that will help us,” she said.