ANIMALS are in on the charity act in West Devon this year, with lions, donkeys and horses working together to aid disabled horse riders.

This year's Donkey Derby, held in Simmons Park and organised by the Okehampton and District Lions, raised more than £4,000 and as promised the money is already being ploughed back into the community.

Earlier this month, Lions president Brian Berkwell presented a £1,000 cheque to the Hittisleigh branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association.

The branch offers horse riding opportunities to disabled children from in and around Okehampton. They run two weekly sessions for children aged five to ten through the summer months with places being arranged by the children's families, health workers or social workers.

The money from the Lions will be going towards purchasing a 12-hand grey mare called 'Polo'.

Peter Roberts, organiser of the Donkey Derby, said: 'Being a real horseman and having heard they were having trouble we thought what better than to support them.

'They wanted to raise funds to buy their own horse and she's a really nice pony and very good with children.

'By having their own pony it gives them a stable base for the future.

'Lions president Brian Berkwell said watching the riders was a humbling experience and really worthwhile.'

Speaking of the money raised at this year's Donkey Derby, Mr Roberts added: 'I'm astounded and very grateful to all the businesses and people who bought programs and all the people of Okehampton who made it such a success.

'I hope the business and people of Okehampton will support us again next year and I'm sure they will.'

Next year's Donkey Derby is set to take place during the last weekend of June.

Hittisleigh Riding for the Disabled will be holding a special coffee morning to raise funds on Wednesday, November 26 from 10am until noon at Castle Drogo.