A star is born at Huttoft sanctuary

Tracy Garton with Alan at Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary in Huttoft.

Tracy Garton with Alan at Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary in Huttoft.

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A donkey that was a ‘sad and lonely’ but found sanctuary in Huttoft is set to become a Christmas legend.

The story of how Alan recovered to become a loveable rogue who gave the owners of Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary the gift of joy when they needed it most is captured in a new book, Alan The Christmas Donkey.

Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton is on sale just in time for christmas stockings. ANL-160212-131211001

Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton is on sale just in time for christmas stockings. ANL-160212-131211001

Tracy Garton, the sanctuary owner, had faced a devastatingly difficult winter, with sky high bills, attacks from vandals and flash floods and didn’t know if she could afford to carry on - or if she had the physical strength to keep going.

But in spite of causing havoc at the sanctuary’s Christmas party, Alan the donkey showed Tracy why it was all worthwhile - and today she and an army of volunteers care for 44 donkeys, two zedonks (father donkey and mother zebra), one zonky (father zebra and mother donkey), two horses, three ponies, a mule and a flock of chickens.

Tracy said: “I never set out to be the owner of a donkey sanctuary, let alone write a book - it all just happened.”

Tracy was living in Nottinghamshire when her eyes met husband Steve’s over a chippy counter. They married and bought a dream home in the country in Radcliffe on Trent.

They had decided at an early stage that they didn’t want children but a new ‘family’ - (donkeys) soon came into their lives.

It started off when they rescued a mule that was stuck in the mud and it all spiralled off from there. Soon their animal ‘family’ had grown to the point they needed more space and they moved to a 30-acre site at Huttoft in 1992.

Alan joined them in 2009 after being rescued from a supermarket car park and his story is featured in the book.

Tracy said: “They are all naughty but Alan has turned out to be the most mischievous. It’s been hard but it’s a nice way of life. In fact it’s our whole life life now.”

lAlan The Christmas Donkey, price £9.99, is available at book stores and Amazon. Part of the proceeds go to the sanctuary.