Farewell to Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary founder

THEY gathered from across the country to pay their last respects to Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, the woman who founded the largest donkey sanctuary in the world.

For a few hours yesterday (Thursday) morning, the founder of Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary lay in state, following her death after a major stroke on May 11.

Every 30 minutes from 10am until 1pm, the charity’s chief executive, David Cook, spoke about the work of Dr S, as she was known, to those who gathered in New Barn at the Weston site to pay tribute to, as one woman described her, “an icon” as they passed her unique coffin, decorated with a photograph of her beloved donkeys.

There were floral tributes placed around the barn beneath the many photographs of Dr S at work.

On hand to give a hug, or words of comfort, as well as a formal Bible reading and prayers, was the Reverend Angie Gammon, who was made Chaplain for the Sanctuary last December, taking over from the Reverend Peter Leverton.

After the public lying in state, a private funeral service and burial took place at Ottery St Mary, attended by family and close friends only.