Cornwall

The Flicka Foundation, near Falmouth

Established as a safe haven for now over 100 horses and donkeys who have been rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment, this is a tranquil little spot to visit, volunteer or even have a  ‘donkey experience’ day. The animals are just lovely – watch them play in the fields or munch on their dinner in the barns – then why not enjoy tea and cake in the lovely cafe.

I was lucky enough to volunteer this week at The Flicka Foundation – and I’m so glad I did. This incredible charity, run by the loveliest, most hard-working and dedicated people, is based just outside Falmouth. Set over rolling fields with pretty views down to the sea and surrounded by trees, the foundation is a collection of barns and buildings with plenty of parking to the side for visitors. It’s free to go in, though as it’s a charity reliant on its donations, do try and leave something if you can.

When I arrived, on a sunny but chilly day, the donkeys and horses were enjoying the emerald-green grass in the fields. The donkeys – a playful lot – brayed and rolled in the dirt and chased each other around the field whilst we did a spot of mucking out around them with wheelbarrows and scoops. With the sun shining, the rooks wheeling in the sky above and a steady breeze, it’s a surprisingly calming, almost meditative job peppered with chats with the other volunteers. Unlike us who were there just for the day, some had been volunteering every week for the last four years, and clearly loved their job, and the donkeys.

After mucking out, we helped round the donkeys up for their lunch in the barn. Some eagerly ran in, others were more reluctant and needed a little cajoling. Two in particular were downright naughty and scooted off down to the bottom of the field, but in the end they all ended up in the huge barn, eating sweet hay whilst gentle, calming music played in the background (yes, really!).

Each donkey had its own tale of abuse, neglect or abandonment – it was heart-wrenching to read all of their stories which are written up in the barn. All are welcomed into the Flicka Foundation – many had injuries or illness – one was blind, another had no teeth, many of them were nervous and jittery – but it was so great to see that their horrible lives had been turned around by the love and care of the people who run Flika.

In the afternoon, after a tasty lunch in the excellent (and brilliantly named) Tea Bray’k Tea Rooms, we led many of the donkeys into their individual pens, and had a chance to groom them, which was a lovely, therapeutic thing to do – for us as much as the donkeys!

All in all, it was a brilliant day and we could see that the visitors enjoyed it as much as we did.  I thoroughly recommend visiting, especially if you’re an animal lover or have children with you – they’ll love stroking the donkeys through the fence, and the volunteers on site are extremely knowledgeable and will tell you all about the donkeys if you ask.

If you have more time on your hands, you can book yourself on to a ‘Donkey Experience’ day, where you’ll get to know the donkeys; feed them, muck them out, groom them and even take them out for a walk. You’ll have an informal talk and tour, as well as lunch, afternoon tea and a goodie bag to take away at the end.

The Flicka Foundation, Penty Noweth Farm, Trenoweth Lane, Mabe Burnthouse, Penryn TR10 9JB | 01326 373 601 | www.flickafoundation.org.uk

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