Donkey rides to return to seaside

YEARS ago they were as much a traditional feature of the British seaside as Punch and Judy and steamers at the end of the pier.

Annie Davidson

YEARS ago they were as much a traditional feature of the British seaside as Punch and Judy and steamers at the end of the pier.

And now, after a 20 year absence, donkey rides will be making a welcome return to Clacton seafront.

A licence has been issued to Jayne Johns who will be bringing her four pets - Tom, Rupert, Joseph and Barney - to the seaside resort for the summer season.

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Mrs Johns, who lives in Rayleigh in south Essex, said she had received a “very positive” response from Tendring District Council when she approached it about the idea.

Her first day providing the rides at Martello Bay beach will be on April 5 - weather permitting.

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Mrs Johns, 47, said: “I love donkeys and my first one was a 40th birthday present from my husband, Martin.

“Next we got a foal, then we got another donkey from the New Forest and then we got Barney, who we think had been badly treated but has turned right round now and is a little dear.

“I enjoy being with the donkeys and thought there would be nothing nicer than to work with them and for about two years I have been trying to sort this out.”

The donkey rides are licensed by Tendring District Council to take place from April 1 until October 31 on the Martello Bay beach.

Mrs Johns said she planned to travel to Clacton every weekend to begin with but could do the donkey rides every day during school holidays if she felt the animals could cope with it.

And she said the credit crunch could bring in more people to the Essex town for their holidays which would hopefully boost trade.

“I think it is a very good year to be starting this - although it is a bad year for a lot of people - with the Euro being how it is people aren't going to be travelling to Spain and other places in Europe so readily, as they won't have the money,” she said.

“But I do foresee a lot more people on the British seafront so I am hoping it will be a good year to start.”

Pierre Oxley, portfolio holder for leisure at Tendring District Council, said he was delighted that donkey rides would be making a comeback.

He said: “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 and Mrs Johns has met all the necessary criteria.”

He said the council's leisure services department had checked to make sure donkey rides on the beach would not affect the chances of obtaining European Blue Flag or Quality Coast Award status.

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