Marks & Spencer Exebridges has donated truckloads of carrots and parsnips to hungry donkeys this Christmas. In the spirit of seasonal giving, M&S’ generous act was met with delight by staff and donkeys alike at The Donkey Sanctuary’s headquarters in Sidmouth, Devon.

Instead of letting sacks full of carrots and parsnips go to waste, farm groom Rosie Baker was thrilled to collect the food retailer’s donation in order to put it to better use: in the bellies of hundreds of rescued and relinquished donkeys and mules.

The idea was the brainchild of Linda Noble, an administrator at M&S Exebridges, who is passionate about helping out local charities during the festive period.

Linda said: “I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing all the veg away and I suddenly thought, ‘what do donkeys eat: carrots of course!’ So I called The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth and asked if they could use the veg, which were nearing their sell by date.”

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The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms in Sidmouth and Town Barton in Tedburn St Mary were delighted to take the donated sacks of veg. Enterprising grooms could be seen using the carrots for enrichment activities, such as hiding them within regular haylage to encourage the donkeys’ instinctive foraging behaviour.

Linda, along with her employer M&S, is a passionate advocate of the Neighbourly free food surplus redistribution scheme, as well as local charities working with those in need at Christmas.