Donkey rides return to Clacton

THE last time donkey rides were on offer on Clacton beach there was a Conservative Government, dancing flowers were rocking, and shell suits were still in fashion.

James Hore

THE last time donkey rides were on offer on Clacton beach there was a Conservative Government, dancing flowers were rocking, and shell suits were still in fashion.

Times and tastes may have changed since then but yesterday the donkeys were back on the Essex coast thanks to Jayne Johns who will be operating rides from the town's Martello Bay beach.

Tendring District Council (TDC) issued the licence to Mrs Johns who will be travelling from Rayleigh in the south of the county.

Yesterday was the press day for the donkeys but it did not stop keen youngsters from having a chance to grab the first rides of the summer season.

Mrs Johns said: “I did look at other areas nearer to home but I did not get the same response from other authorities as I did from Tendring.

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“The reaction I got was a very positive one and I was made to feel welcome. I am looking forward to making the trip on a regular basis and I will make sure the donkeys get a chance to rest in between.”

Mrs Johns got her first donkey as a birthday present from her husband, Martin. Her affection for the animal has continued to grow and she has kept them for nine years, just as pets.

“I thought it would be nice to work with them as well and I now have four donkeys licensed to work on the beach and it has all been checked out by animal welfare.

“They are very sociable animals and they love to be with people. Last year I took them to school fetes and other events and it went very well,” she added.

Mrs Johns aims to operate during the school holidays, as well as weekends. She has invested in a horsebox and had it kitted out for the donkeys.

Pierre Oxley, in charge of leisure at TDC, said he was delighted with the comeback.

“I remember in my youth when they used to operate donkey rides on an area at the end of the greensward and I am sure that bringing them back to the town will prove a popular move.

“They are very much a part of the traditional activities of a seaside resort,” he said.

Mrs Johns hopes to start officially on April 4.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk