Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 10:53 UK

Village welcomes shopper donkeys

Anna Usborne with Chester, one of the two Chalford donkeys
The idea was suggested by local resident Anna Usbourne

Donkeys have arrived at a village in Gloucestershire to help residents fed up with hauling their shopping up a steep hill.

More than 30 residents living on the narrow paths of Chalford are unable to reach their homes by car.

Villagers supported the idea of using the eco-friendly pack animals and raised money to buy a couple of them.

Anna Usborne, who led the campaign, has now taken delivery of two donkeys - Chester, one, and Teddy, four.

"Chalford is very steep and we need an animal to help us get up the hill with our shopping," the 33-year-old sculptor said.

"It could take six weeks or six months to train them. It all depends on how well they behave.

"We are very excited to have them with us. They are lovely, gentle animals."

Ms Usborne applied to the parish council for support after being quoted prices ranging from 300 to 600 to buy the donkeys from her local sanctuary.

Teddy was bought from a beach donkey dealer in south Wales while Chester arrived from Cotswold Farm Park.

Residents on one of the steep, narrow paths of Chalford
Many residents cannot reach their homes by car

The animals, which are currently living in a nearby paddock, are now being trained with halters and panniers to help villagers carry their shopping up the incline to their homes.

The plan is that the donkeys will be taken into the village to make deliveries at set times during the week when people can book out the service.

A core group of trained donkey handlers will also be available to help, so the job of taking the animals out can be shared.

Many of the deliveries will originate from the local Chalford Community Stores.

Historically, donkeys have always been used in the village.

Archive pictures, dating back to the 1930s, show the animals delivering bread and coal from a nearby canal.

Shoppers seek donkey for bag help
07 Feb 08 |  Gloucestershire

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