Little donkey: you hear the carol nearly every day towards Christmas. St James’s Church, Taxal, near Whaley Bridge has had a real little donkey, working in the churchyard. Moses became famous locally, spending the summer and autumn chewing grass and weeds between the graves, where scythes and lawnmowers are difficult to operate.
But the wintry weather has robbed Moses of a starring role in a family service at St Matthews’s church, Hayfield. Moses, urged to be on his best behaviour, was invited to appear in church at a family service on Sunday 19 December. But stardom will have to wait until next Christmas.
John Swift, Moses’ owner, put the donkey forward for the graveyard shift earlier this year. Moses has done wonders, crunching grass, weeds, saplings between his formidable teeth – but he drew the line at bracken and ferns.
Moses, now 18 months old, has had some beauty treatment. Pete Smith from Chinley, has a busy life as a farrier attending to horses’ and donkeys’ hooves. In one day this summer he attended to a collection of eight donkeys at one property.
After the donkey work, the 1st Taxal Scouts took over tidying the graveyard, Nineteen Scouts cleared the bracken and ferns that Moses didn’t like, as part of community work that will earn them a heritage badge. Then they had a quick introduction to bell ringing from belfry captain Margot Graham, most swinging in the air from the ropes as a fun way of ‘learning the ropes’.
Meanwhile Moses has fans. Even though he is in his winter headquarters now, people keep bringing gifts of vegetables for the little donkey. As owner John says: “A carrot a day helps you work, rest and play!”