Lottery winners get their knitting needles out to help donkey group

The winners created toys for the group Mini Donks which uses real, miniature donkeys to cheer people up.

Lottery winners Debra Pearce (right) and Susan Crossland with some of the knitted toys
Lottery winners Debra Pearce (right) and Susan Crossland with some of the knitted toys

A team of lottery winners with a combined wealth of more than £50 million have knitted soft toys to be sold to raise funds for a group that cheers people up with friendly miniature donkeys.

The 18 knitters picked up their needles when they heard that social enterprise Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing, based in south Norfolk and better known as Mini Donks, needed more items to sell at its pop-up Christmas shop.

They crafted a haul of toy donkeys and woollen carrots.

Funds raised by selling the toys will help Mini Donks to continue its work taking miniature donkeys to see people with life-limiting conditions, special needs, dementia, and also various community and voluntary organisations.

Lottery winners Debra Pearce (right) and Susan Crossland with some of the knitted toys. (National Lottery/ PA)
Lottery winners Debra Pearce (right) and Susan Crossland with some of the knitted toys (National Lottery/PA)

Among the knitters were grandmother Susan Crossland, 58, of Mirfield in West Yorkshire, who won £1.2 million in 2008, and 62-year-old Debra Pearce of Southend in Essex, who won £1 million in 2017.

Mrs Pearce, who was part of a team of lottery winners that helped Mini Donks build a yard extension this summer, said it was “brilliant to support this wonderful organisation again”.

She said: “Hopefully our efforts will raise some more pennies for Mini Donks, and be a delightful Christmas present for the lucky recipient too.

“Every one of these knitted mini donks and carrots have been knitted by someone, like me, who was lucky enough to enjoy a life-changing win on the National Lottery.

“It would be nice to think that some of our luck might be passed on along with these knitted toys.”

The woollen miniature donkey toys will be sold at a pop-up Christmas shop to support social enterprise Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing. (National Lottery/ PA)
The woollen miniature donkey toys will be sold at a pop-up Christmas shop to support social enterprise Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing (National Lottery/PA)

Sarah McPherson, founder of Mini Donks, said: “A gang of National Lottery winners visited earlier this year and worked tirelessly to extend our stable yard, and I mentioned in passing we needed knitters to help with stock for Christmas.

“I honestly didn’t for a second expect National Lottery millionaires from all over the country to give up their time and resources in this way, it really is an early Christmas present for us.

“We’re incredibly grateful for their support, every penny raised on the shop goes straight back into helping provide Mini Donk visits for those with life-limiting conditions.

“And while we can’t make any promises, surely they are extra lucky if they have been crafted by the hands of Lottery winners.”

Funds raised through sale of the knitted toys will help keep the miniature donkeys fed through the winter months. (National Lottery/ PA)
Funds raised through sale of the knitted toys will help keep the miniature donkeys fed through the winter months. (National Lottery/PA)

Last Christmas, lottery winners knitted more than 1,000 little angels and fairies which were given to a number of organisations around the country, from children’s hospices to lonely and isolated elderly people.

The Mini Donk toys will first go on sale at Beccles Christmas lights switch on in Suffolk.

Each limited-edition donkey toy comes with a gold head collar, a tag and an accompanying adoption certificate.

Funds raised will help keep the miniature donkeys fed through the winter months and enable the group to carry out visits.

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