Boss who made ‘enormous impact’ on Sidmouth’s donkey sanctuary announces retirement

The Donkey Sanctuary's CEO, David Cook, has announced retirement plans

The Donkey Sanctuary's CEO, David Cook, has announced retirement plans - Credit: Archant

David Cook promises ongoing support for ‘fantastic charity’

The Donkey Sanctuary’s chief executive has today (Monday) announced plans to retire from the role that he says ‘changed his life’.

David Cook will stand down early next summer after eight years at the head of the Sidmouth-based charity, as he approaches the ‘milestone age’ of 70.

Mr Cook said: “It is difficult for me to believe that I will be 70 next year and I advised the chair of trustees some time ago that I would like to hand over the reins of this fantastic charity before I reach that milestone age.

“It has been a privilege to be chief executive and I have enjoyed every moment of working with such a wonderful team of trustees, staff, volunteers, and of course, the donkeys.


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“I never thought that on the fateful day in 1987 when I first visited the sanctuary my life would be changed, but change it did. I was a supporter then, I am a supporter now, and, fingers crossed, I will be a supporter for many more years to come.”

Chair of the trustees, Professor Stuart Reid, said: “David has made an enormous impact on the charity in his eight years as chief executive and he will be sorely missed.

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“During his time as CEO he has overseen the incorporation of our Donkey Assisted Therapy work into the main work of the sanctuary, he developed a new, clear and motivating strategic plan and, ultimately, has ensured that we are ever more able to support the donkeys most in need, together with the people who depend upon them.

“We have also seen expansion of our overseas activities and a broadening and strengthening of our supporter base in a way few would have imagined possible.

“Indeed, David’s long term commitment to donkeys, combined with his astute business skills, has led us to a position where we are seen as a charity that makes real impact in a real world.

“He has built on the vision of the sanctuary’s founder, Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, and in doing so has created a legacy of his own and one in which we can all rejoice.

“We are excited by the next stage of The Donkey Sanctuary’s development. We are constructing a new state-of-the-art veterinary hospital at one of our farms and re-developing our Sidmouth Sanctuary to enable our visitors to learn about and experience our work around the world. I am delighted that David is happy to remain as chief executive until we have his successor in place.

“David truly has always put the donkeys and those who depend on them, first, second and third and I know that he will continue to do so in his retirement. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude and he retires with our thanks and very best wishes.”

Recruitment for a replacement CEO will begin immediately.

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