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Animal welfare well and truly covered

Date: 12 April 2022

Many donkeys will be seen in and around churches across the country over these next two weeks as Easter is celebrated, but not every priest welcoming them to their church will be as qualified as Revd Pippa Ford.

The vicar of St Michael’s in Camberley previously worked as a vet. Having practiced for 12 years she worked with everything from hamsters to cats, dogs to cows, and, you guessed it, even donkeys.

It has now been some time since Pippa last put her veterinary skills into practice, adding, “I’m not sure how useful I’d be in a ‘donkey emergency’ nowadays but I could hold the fort until a vet arrived.”

Rocky the donkey was part of the church’s Palm Sunday Easter Parade, walking between the congregation as they waved bamboo branches and called out ‘Hosanna’. He was then led through the church.

Although a tarpaulin had been reserved for him, he wasn’t too keen on that and decided the church’s red carpet was far more fitting for someone of his VID (Very Important Donkey) status. Rocky was even kind enough to leave a ‘present’ for Pippa to clear up!

Previously St Michael’s had had Rocky’s friend Barney as part of their Easter and Christmas celebrations last year. Sadly, he was lame on Sunday but is always a welcomed visitor to the congregation, as is Rocky, who was a great stand-in.

Pippa said, “Palm Sunday 2021 was our first service in church since I’d arrived as vicar. I preached taking on the role of the donkey that Jesus rode, complete with donkey ears on my head alongside Barney.”

Pippa has a passion for animals and promoting the wellbeing benefits they can offer individuals. The church has previously held a Pet Show followed by a Pet Service, which saw cats, dogs, rabbits, a bird and some great animal costumes on the vicarage lawn. 

This is an opportunity for the community to show off and celebrate their furry, feathered or non-furry friends, and there is another planned for the 10th September this year.

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