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Lucy Fensom's Story


Lucy Fensom starts work as a volunteer at a kibbutz in Israel.


1990 to 1995

Lucy works as a volunteer in the cattery of the Jerusalem Society for Protection of Animals (JSPCA) in Atarot, Jerusalem.


During this time, Lucy starts caring for a donkey who is tied with wire around his legs near the gates of the JSPCA by giving him food and water and treating his wounded legs; she names him “Donk”.



Lucy returns to the UK, having made arrangements for Donk's care.



After realising that the arrangements are not working as they should, Lucy secures help from a UK sanctuary to bring Donk to the UK.



Donk sadly passes away due to heart problems linked to having been heavily worked from a very young age; Lucy’s vision of a sanctuary for donkeys in the Holy Land is born.


1995 to 1999 

Lucy works as a flight attendant for British Airways with the goal of raising enough money to fund the opening of a sanctuary in the Holy Land.

1999 An article appears in a UK newspaper and generates enough donations to start a sanctuary.

Lucy moves to Israel on her own and starts a small donkey sanctuary at Kibbutz Gezer with the rescue of little ‘Lucy’ (found as a young foal by her mother’s side who had been killed on a busy road), soon followed by three-legged Cachou and little Jordy (who had been marched through the streets of Jericho during an anti-Israel protest and had his ears and tail chopped off).


The sanctuary is officially registered as a charity in the UK and run by a board of trustees in the UK, while Lucy is employed by the charity as Field Director in Israel.



Lucy, who has by now been joined in her work by her future husband Adi, finds a suitable farm house with land for rent north of the Gezer area at Moshav Gan Yoshiyya.

2001 to 2015

Supported by a small team of farm workers and vets, Lucy starts rescuing abandoned and neglected donkeys in Israel and the West Bank. Additionally, they set up an outreach project in the West Bank and some Israeli Arab villages. With perseverance, compassion and understanding they slowly break down political barriers and eventually open a wonderful haven in Qalqilya and Nablus to help the people there who rely upon their donkeys and horses for their everyday livelihood. 


By 2015, the sanctuary houses over 220 rescued animals, mostly donkeys, all with their own unique history and rescue story, but also the odd horse, mule, a cow and a goat as well as dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, guinea pigs and rabbits. 



A new trustee joins the board in early 2015. Sadly and abruptly, Lucy's employment with the charity is ended. Undeterred, Lucy feels compelled and driven to do all she can for her life's work to give those animals the love and the help that they need to continue. Lucy decides to start a new sanctuary of her own to continue her life's mission to help improve the lives of working and abandoned donkeys in the Holy Land.   


In September 2015, Lucy’s Sanctuary for Holy Land Donkeys is registered in Israel as an amutah (non-profit organisation, registration number 580615110) with the main aim of helping thousands of suffering animals in Israel and the West Bank by teaching their owners proper care and compassion, providing support through veterinary care and establishing a sanctuary for abandoned animals. 

A suitable small piece of land with a ready shelter on site is found in an Arab village in Israel to help start Project ''Help the Donkeys, Educate the Children''. Thanks to a generous donation from a UK supporter, work begins at the end of 2015, and Lucy starts rescuing donkeys and horses into her sanctuary whilst also continuing her outreach work, supported by a small group of volunteers.



Following repeated break-ins and an arson attack on the sanctuary, the decision was taken to move the animals to a new sanctuary in a safer area in a village in Israel between Netanya and Tulkarm.

2017 to date

Lucy's UK Donkey Foundation is registered as a charity in the UK (No. 1174959) with the purpose of raising funds, primarily in the UK, to support Lucy's work. 

Lucy's work continues, and as at April 2021, 53 donkeys and 3 horses - along with 5 cats and 2 dogs - call Lucy's Sanctuary their home.

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