Merry Christm-ass! Animal magic for 102-year-old Ethel

Ethel Endersby meets Joey the donkey. PIC: Scott Merrylees
Ethel Endersby meets Joey the donkey. PIC: Scott Merrylees
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There was no shortage of mule-tide spirit at a Leeds care home when a retired donkey dropped in.

Joey, a 14-year-old from the Donkey Sanctuary’s assisted therapy centre in Eccup, Leeds, met senior citizens at Rievaulx House, in Armley, yesterday.

The visits have been an annual fixture at the home for several years and are part of a series of Christmas events enjoyed by residents, which this year included a trip to a nativity performance at St Bartholomew’s Primary School.

Among those to get to meet Joey, who sported a pair of antlers for the occasion, was Ethel Endersby who, at 102 years-old, is the second oldest resident.

Care home manager Andrea Gibson said: “The donkey visits are something they all look forward to.

“The faces of the residents absolutely light up and it gives them something to talk about for weeks afterwards.

“It’s good to be able to do something that’s outside of the normal routine and I believe it makes a big difference to their lives.”

The home gave a donation to the Donkey Sanctuary therapy centre, which provides activities for hundreds of children with additional needs.

It also offers an outreach service in schools and care homes.

Centre co-ordinator Caroline Armitage said: “We find it can be really therapeutic for older people, especially those who have Alzheimer’s.

“They have a lot of memories of donkeys from when they were younger. Donkeys are gentle and non-judgemental - and being able to talk to them and give them a cuddle really makes a difference.”