Northern Ireland news

Pet lambs donated by Hydebank to Lisburn children's charity

Pet lambs Lucy and Charley, who were born in March 2017, pictured at Hydebank Wood College. Picture by Michael Cooper
Marie Louise McConville

PET lambs reared from prize-winning sheep at a young offenders centre have been donated to a charity which provides animal therapy for children with autism and life-limiting illnesses.

Two lambs have been handed over by the Northern Ireland Prison Service to the Kids Pony Foundation at Drennan Road in Lisburn.

Sheep were introduced at Hydebank Wood College two years ago as part of an animal therapy rehabilitation initiative.

Ricky Graham, Vocational Training Officer at Hydebank who is also a part-time sheep farmer, worked with students to teach basic livestock and husbandry skills.

The lambs, named Lucy and Charley, were born in March.

Laura Gordon, instructor at the Kids Pony Foundation, said the lambs would bring "so much joy to the children who come here".

"The Pony Foundation has been running for a number of years now, but we don't just have miniature ponies we have all kinds of breeds of animals and birds including pygmy goats, deer, peacocks and hens, chickens, ducks and geese and even wallabies, alpacas and an ostrich. But we didn't have any lambs, until now," she said.

"The Foundation provides therapies for children with special needs from the ages of five to 16. They get to spend time with them, feed them and learn all about them in a very friendly and safe environment".

Stevie Mann from Hydebank said the therapeutic value of looking after and caring for animals was widely recognised.

"The young men who would not normally have exposure to farm animals have been given the opportunity to develop new skills and gain self-confidence," he said.

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