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Award for Donkey Ride Charity

Fireman gives long service donation

A donkey-riding therapy charity for children with special needs in Sidmouth is closer to reaching its target for new play equipment this week thanks to one of the airport’s firemen.

Dale Smith who has been working as a fireman at Exeter Airport for 20 years donated his £200 Long Service Award on Wednesday 5th November as a gift to The Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys (EST) which is based within the grounds of The Donkey Sanctuary.

Dale, who lives in Sidmouth, says: “I wanted to donate my Long Service Award to a local charity which helps children in the area and EST sounded perfect.

“My visit to EST this week has been extremely rewarding and I have been taken aback by their work.  The children look like they are having a fabulous time and the donkeys are just taking everything in their stride.  I didn’t even know the centre was here; this is just great for children with special needs.” 

Lauriel Harris who runs the centre adds: “We are really thankful for Dale’s donation.  It will go towards our £1,500 target so that we can buy large soft play equipment for the children which they can use while they are waiting to ride the donkeys.

“Dale has been able to see children ride from St Nicholas School, where his children used to attend, which demonstrates how his donation benefits the local community.”

Exeter Airport introduced their Long Service Award scheme earlier this year and recognises staff who have been employed by them for 10, 15 and 20 years or more.

EST has centres in Sidmouth, Birmingham, Ivybridge, Manchester and Leeds all accommodating over 150 children with special needs and disabilities in their surrounding areas each week.  EST makes no charge to the schools or parents whose children attend and staffing is strongly supported by a dedicated group of volunteers who help with the riding sessions.