A fundraiser has been started for the former donkeys of Blackheath, to help build new fencing for a safer enclosure for them in their Eltham paddock.

The donkeys formerly gave rides to children at the gates of Greenwich Park in Blackheath, but were stopped in 2011 in the lead up to the Olympic games.

The donkeys, now owned by Lorayne Thorne and her brother following their father Len’s passing in 2012, currently reside in a paddock near Vista Field in Eltham.

News Shopper: There are currently ten donkeys living on the paddock There are currently ten donkeys living on the paddock (Image: Joanne Kane)

But in recent years Lorayne has noticed gradual wear and tear of the donkey’s enclosure as a result of years of use and the donkeys frequently chewing on the soft wood.

Lorayne said: “The wood used is very soft wood, and the donkeys are chewing through it like there’s no tomorrow.

“I've got one or two donkeys that do love chewing wood and the reason being is they love to get to a tree and eat the bark, but they can't because it's on the other side of the fence.

“So they're going through the fence chewing the wood instead.

“They have plenty of hay, they've got plenty of food up there, but they do love chewing the fence.”

The donkeys were moved to the new enclosure from their former Welling home in 2011 when works began to build a new equestrian riding school on the site.

Lorayne currently has 10 donkeys residing at the paddock, including two of the original donkeys that were once owned by her father and would give rides to children on the gates of Greenwich Park.

Humphrey and Ozzy, now both in their 30s, are the two of the remaining Blackheath donkeys after Bimbo passed away last year.

News Shopper: Between £10k-£15k is needed to build new fence for the donkeysBetween £10k-£15k is needed to build new fence for the donkeys (Image: Joanne Kane)

Lorayne told the News Shopper that she has been estimated anything between £10,000 - £15,000 to replace the wooden fence surrounding the paddock and that this venture will be a necessary one to ensure the security for the donkeys.

The 11-year-old fences have worn down over time and Lorayne fears that she may not be able to keep the donkeys in the paddock safely without the addition of a new fence.

Lorayne explained: “My main aim is to make sure they're 100 per cent safe and sound.

“If I cannot get the fencing fixed, I don't know how much longer I can keep them there, for the safety reasons.”

Currently Lorayne has a number of volunteers who regularly look in on the donkeys when she is working and has said the fencing would give her the added peace of mind to ensure their safety.

News Shopper: Two of the ten donkeys were the original donkeys at Blackheath. Two of the ten donkeys were the original donkeys at Blackheath. (Image: Joanne Kane)

Lorayne said: “A couple of times they've got out, and if I'm at work in London, I can't get there straightaway.

“I have what I call Guardians of the Donkeys - five people who keep an eye on the donkeys throughout the day and let me know how they’re getting on.

“A couple of times they've been very good. If I couldn't get there, they've gone there and they've caught the donkey for me if it has got out.

“So that’s lovely, but going forward I want to make sure they are safe.”

A fundraiser was created on JustGiving in order to raise needed funds towards the donkey’s new enclosure, with £892 being raised so far towards the costs of the fencing.

One supporter told the News Shopper: “The donkeys are well loved by folk from all around the country, “For Lorayne, the donkeys have become an integral part of the Greenwich community, something that her father always wanted.”

Due to financial costs, Lorayne has been unable to cover the costs of a van to return the donkeys to Blackheath for rides.

Despite this, Lorayne said that the donkeys have remained a key part of the Greenwich community for people young and old.

Lorayne said: “I've carried out my dad's wish, he wanted them kept within the borough of Greenwich so the children could enjoy them.

“They’ve really helped people, especially through Covid, when people would see them on their daily walks.

“The donkeys now are just living out their days and people get great satisfaction going up and seeing them. And my dad would have been really happy with that.”