‘Incredibly special' fundraising donkey dies

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A DONKEY who helped to raise thousands of pounds for the Brooke Hospital for Animals, and whose claim to fame was giving singer Gilbert O’Sullivan’s daughter a ride, died last week.

Mary Gaiger, chairman of the Jersey Supporters’ Group of the Brooke Hospital, said that John Henry, who was 33 years of age, was ‘an incredibly special donkey, who cannot be replaced’.

According to Mrs Gaiger, John Henry – named after a champion US racehorse – had started to suffer badly from arthritis in his front joints, which led her to make the difficult decision of having him put down on Wednesday.

Mrs Gaiger said that in the hour she spent with John Henry before the vet arrived, she fed him a feast of chopped carrots – his favourite snack.

Many Islanders would remember John Henry from seeing him giving donkey rides over the years and taking part in parades.

‘He really was incredible and helped to raise more than £16,000 for the Brooke Hospital over 17 years,’ said Mrs Gaiger.

Originally from London, Mary acquired her first donkey, Emily, more than 30 years ago.

‘I had a bit of a disappointment about something and then I read in the JEP that there was a donkey for sale. I asked my husband if we could get her – or at least go and see her because it would cheer me up no end. Three days later, she was coming back to our place,’ she said, adding: ‘Moving to Jersey was one of the best things we could have done. If we had stayed in London, I would never have had a chance to keep the donkeys.

‘John Henry was like a baby to me in many ways; I bottle-fed him soon after he was born as his mother couldn’t feed him.

‘He was such an affectionate and gentle donkey. And I miss him so much.’

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins

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