Inspirational teenager opens donkey sanctuary

Newspaper: Pontefract & Castleford Express.'Story: Jennifer Howarth from Cridling Stubbs will see her dream come true when her donkey santuary and visitors centre opens later in the year (2015). 'Photo date: 21/07/15'Picture Ref: AB144b0715
Newspaper: Pontefract & Castleford Express.'Story: Jennifer Howarth from Cridling Stubbs will see her dream come true when her donkey santuary and visitors centre opens later in the year (2015). 'Photo date: 21/07/15'Picture Ref: AB144b0715
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Inspirational teenager Jennifer Howarth will open up her own donkey sanctuary next weekend just seven years after an illness left her unable to read and write.

Jennifer was diagnosed with conversion syndrome which was caused by the stress and trauma of breaking her foot in accident at school.

Newspaper: Pontefract & Castleford Express.'Story: Jennifer Howarth from Cridling Stubbs will see her dream come true when her donkey santuary and visitors centre opens later in the year (2015). 'Photo date: 21/07/15'Picture Ref: AB144d0715

Newspaper: Pontefract & Castleford Express.'Story: Jennifer Howarth from Cridling Stubbs will see her dream come true when her donkey santuary and visitors centre opens later in the year (2015). 'Photo date: 21/07/15'Picture Ref: AB144d0715

It meant she had to quit school and left her shy and unable to concentrate for long periods of time.

But seven years after her aunties bought her a donkey to help her recover from the illness she will open up the sanctuary at her Cridling Stubbs home next weekend.

Jennifer, 17, of Little Oaks Farm, Copcroft Lane, said: “When my aunties bought me a donkey to help me with my illness it helped me massively and then we ended up rescuing another one.

“Buttons was really badly mistreated and he wouldn’t let me go into his stable at first.

I want people to get the same happiness and enjoyment out of the animals as I have

“Eventually we developed a really strong bond and as he got better I got better with him.”

The youngster was studying at Ackworth School when she was diagnosed with the condition.

It forced her to leave school while she had treatment.

She returned to school aged 13 and has won competitions at the Yorkshire Show with her donkeys.

She said: “After I went back to school and was better, I said to my mum ‘I want to give something back to the donkeys who have helped me so much -I want to open a sanctuary’ and that’s where the idea came from.

“I also want to open up the facility to people who have similar conditions to me because animals can help so much.”

The new facility will be home to 14 donkeys, a cafe and visitors’ centre.

Visitors will be able to take a walk around the site as well as getting the chance to meet the donkeys.

Jennifer said: “The plan is for people to be able to come and spend time with the donkeys because they have a really calming effect.

“I want people to get the same happiness and enjoyment out of the animals as I have.”

Jennifer and her mum Jacqueline will officially open the sanctuary with a special open day on Saturday, August 8.

The event will run from 10am until 4pm and the centre will open Wednesday to Sunday.

Jennifer said: “We’re working really hard to make sure that everything is ready for August 8.

“Everyone is welcome to come down and have a look at the donkeys and the work we do.”

Jennifer will receive her GCSE results next month and hopes to go on to study creative writing, English literature, English language and business studies at St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School in Featherstone in September.