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Candy_WebSome very sad news first: Candy, the approaching-fifty year old Donkey, died on Wednesday morning. It was not a great shock, since she had been declining with great dignity for some time, but was nevertheless very upsetting for everyone. As well as being our oldest resident, she was also one who had been on the farm the longest. Staff and customers alike will miss her determined attitude, and slightly doddery ways. We would like to thank everyone who has supported and loved her over the years.

 

Miniature_Donkeys_WebThe better news is that Jack, our remaining donkey, was not allowed to stay lonely for long. Two Mediterranean miniature donkeys arrived on Friday, and are busy settling in to life at Totnes Rare Breeds. They have yet to be properly introduced to Jack, who spends his time peering round the partition at these tiny versions of himself.

Photograph by Sarah Anne Harvey

Winners_WebEveryone is thrilled to announce that Totnes Rare Breeds, in partnership with the South Devon Steam Railway, is a finalist in the new Rough Guide to Accessible Britain Awards. Secret shoppers from the Rough Guide, one of Britain's leading travel and reference publishers, have been assessing attractions up and down the country for their disabled-friendliness. They judged the farm and railway as worthy of being shortlisted in the Best Family Venue category.

The Awards reward the efforts made by attractions across the country to ensure that visitors with disabilities enjoy an inclusive, inspiring and accessible experience. Since both the farm and railway make a conscious effort to be as accessible to disabled visitors as to anyone, they are thrilled to be acknowleged in a national award.

Imagine the shock when the full shortlist was released, and these two humble Devon destinations discovered themselves to be up against The Eden Project, Legoland Windsor and The Science Museum, London. The award ceremony is at the Tate Modern on 22nd March and although we're not getting our hopes up, it's fantastic to play David against these Goliaths.

 

barbOne of the Totnes Rare Breeds volunteers is being stopped by strangers at bus stops after appearing on the BBC local news. Barbara was interviewed by Spotlight reporter Victoria Graham about her work at the farm, as part of a series of programs about volunteering in the local area. Barbara didn't pause as the cameras caught her cleaning out the goats, hosing out the donkeys, and taking the owls for their daily walk. She did, however, find breath to explain what started her helping out at the farm, and why she loved it so much.

Everyone had a fantastic morning, especially Wizard the Eagle owl, who enjoyed being carried by Victoria Graham herself. All are very grateful to Victoria, John the Camera man, and all the Spotlight team.

So far 2010 has been spent breaking ice on water buckets, but now that the Great Thaw is underway Totnes Rare Breeds is looking forward to welcoming its visitors back in the spring.

What to look out for in 2010:

Web_Black_Sheep• The woodland walk, which got a sneak preview during our Halloween party, will be fully opened to visitors.
• The wildlife area will be well stocked with specially made bird feeders and boxes, hopefully becoming a haven for feathered friends and their admirers.
• The hedgehog hospital is being refurbished in preparation for some new animals, who will join the usual influx of young hogs.
…and of course there will be all your old favourites, with lots of Easter babies.

Meanwhile, all adverts for local guides have been designed, and an exciting new brochure is on its way to print. The website is still developing, and Tommy would like to thank all her supporters following her on twitter.

Everyone at Totnes Rare Breeds would like to wish you a prosperous start to 2010.

Web_Ducks

SW_Tourist_Excellence_Winners_WebThe celebrations ran late into last night at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards Ceremony, after Totnes Rare Breeds won silver in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category. The farm was up against prestigious competition, and was enthusiastically commended by the judges for its friendly atmosphere, personal service, and attention to detail. Particular mention was made of the knowledgable and passionate volunteers.

Barrie and Jacquie would like to thank everyone for the fast-flowing messages of support and congratulation. As one caller put it, how wonderful that an attraction so reliant on the generosity of its visitors and volunteers should take on the more commercial big boys.