One of the most important fundraising events of the year for the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary gets underway this weekend in Wroxall.

Tomorrow (Sunday 15th September) will see the popular Isle of Wight charity opens it’s doors for A Day At The Races.

Organisers say it is as much of way to say thank you to Islanders for their support, as it is to raise money for the sanctuary – which needs over £500,000 a year to just look after the donkeys.

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Charity manager Derek Needham says:

“It costs us over half a million pounds a year to survive. That’s not to build anything, that’s just to survive, so every year that’s what we have to raise and we determined to stay free entry for as long as we can, so we have to go about raising that money from January 1st onwards”.

A Day At The Races will see fun with a donkey twist – including Carrot and Spoon Races and Donkey Spacehopper Races as well as a traditional Victorian funfair and market stalls.

2 popular events are set to make a comeback for 2019 too. The Dancing Jim competition will see a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ style panel – including last year’s UK Tourism Superstar Jim O’Reilly from Red Funnel  – judge the efforts of competitors as they negotiate a course while giving directions in the unique style of Dancing Jim.

The ever-popular ‘Suppertime Stakes’ will also make a return, with visitors encouraged to guess which donkey will make it back to the stables first at teatime. This year, Island businesses and individuals are also being encouraged to ‘own’ a donkey for the day – and if their animal is first back, they will win a special prize.

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Derek says that it is as much as thank you to the local residents as it is a vital fundraising opportunity:

“Island families stick with us right the way through the winter, which is great. Children come here, mums and dads come here, and schools continue to come here, which is very important for us. So it’s lovely for us to be able to give something back. It’s free entry, it’s free car parking and it’s a lot of fun and it’s another way of interacting with all of our donkeys.

“We’ve lost several of our oldest and best friends this year, and we lost our oldest boy donkey. Bullrush, a couple of weeks ago. Such is a life at a donkey sanctuary. But we have had some new donkeys come in and they have all settled in really well”.

There are now 94 donkeys at the Wroxall based charity, many of who go out and do their own work in the community, working with charities such as the Stroke Association, schools around the Island and the Rainbow Trust, who support the families of children with a life-threatening illness.

In addition to the stalls and donkey mayhem, there will be live music over the day from Ricky J, Double Take and Marie Smith, and the Bloodstone Morris Dancers will also make an appearance.

A Day At The Races gets underway from 10:000 this Sunday, until 16:00.

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