Blackpool donkeys remain on Wigan farm as pandemic stops rides

Blackpool’s beaches are much quieter than usual this year - and it is not just day-trippers and holiday-makers staying away.

By Gaynor Clarke
Friday, 15th May 2020, 7:00 am

For while people have not been able to enjoy outings to the seaside during the coronavirus pandemic, the popular donkeys that usually provide rides for children have not trotted back to the resort either.

Each year Blackpool’s donkeys travel to Latham House Farm, in Kitt Green, for the winter months, before going back to the seaside at Easter.

But the Covid-19 pandemic means the donkey rides have not resumed, so they remain in Wigan - perhaps on an extended holiday or maybe on furlough.

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Gillian Morris with some of the donkeys

Gillian Morris, who runs the farm with her family, said: “They are no trouble at all. They are lovely animals. We have had them for more than 20 years.”

There are currently 19 donkeys at the farm, who travelled from Blackpool in October for their winter break, along with Tim, a retired donkey that has been at Latham House for 20 years.

Mrs Morris said: “We like having them. They are no problem. We are bringing them in at night, bedding them and feeding them.”

The coronavirus pandemic does mean that some changes have had to be made to life on the farm.

Gillian Morris has cared for the donkeys since October

While it is not thought the illness affects animals, it could be passed on by people who touch them.

Mrs Morris said: “We have put them in a separate field, away from the footpath. We don’t want people going to them because apparently it can spread the virus if people touch them.”

The donkeys’ extended holiday in Wigan means the team at the farm may have to delay the hay crop.

Mrs Morris’ husband Jimmy is among those shielding from the coronavirus, meaning she has to do much of the work, and they would have to adhere to certain restrictions if they wanted to sell animals at the cattle market.

But otherwise it is business as usual at the farm.

Mrs Morris said: “We still have to carry on feeding the animals. We are isolating ourselves as much as we can from the public.”

Of course, spring also brings new arrivals, with the birth of calves on the farm bringing joy at a time of so much uncertainty.

Mrs Morris said: “It’s been lovely to have the calves.”

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