Santa will be leaving the reindeer behind when he visits MHA’s Swallow Wood Care Home in Mexborough on Sunday 10 December, and bringing donkeys instead.

His grotto at the Home on Wath Road will be open to the public from 2 to 4pm and there will also be a brass band, carol singing, a craft stall, a raffle and festive food and drink on sale.  Entry to the grotto, including a present for each child and a chance to pet the donkeys, will be £3.

Santa is borrowing the animals from Real Donkeys in Dewsbury, who previously visited the Home in summer, when Swallow Wood brought the seaside to residents, complete with sand, donkey rides and ice cream.  Real Donkeys abides by The Donkey Sanctuary’s guidelines on animal welfare.

The event is just part of the Home’s Christmas celebrations and year-round activities, which also include quizzes, pamper sessions, bingo and music.  The activities programme was one of the reasons why the Care Quality Commission (the independent regulator of health and social care in England) rated Swallow Wood as ‘Good’ at its last inspection.  The Home is looking for more volunteers to help deliver these activities.  Anyone interested in volunteering or donating a raffle prize can call Activity Co-ordinators Wendy Dale or Cheryl Cook on 01709 571477.

Tracey said, “The donkeys were so popular in the summer that we had to have them back.  Our residents benefit from mixing with younger people, so we are inviting children to meet Santa in his grotto, see the donkeys and talk to our residents.  We are very grateful to the volunteers who make such activities possible and would very much welcome new ones.  We would also like to thank Morrisons, Tesco and Co-op Funeralcare for helping Santa out with some of the presents in the grotto.” 

Mark Ineson, founder of Real Donkeys, said, “Danny, the donkey who came last time and was a huge hit, is now retired and spending his days roaming the fields in Herefordshire, so we will be bringing a couple of different donkeys to Swallow Wood this time.  But Danny is not alone - he is with his loyal friend, Tommy, who retired with him.  They are such good friends, it seemed the natural thing to do.”

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