AN acclaimed author and long-term supporter of The Donkey Sanctuary Belfast has donated the entire proceeds of her debut book to support donkeys at the centre near Templepatrick.
Maggie Doyle presented the centre with a cheque for £1,500 from sales of her book Mountain Notes: A Nature Diary, which was written during lockdown and inspired by the stunning surroundings of her Northern Ireland home.
After a 30-year career as a radio producer and manager for BBC Northern Ireland, Maggie took early retirement in 2019, before she and husband Linley moved from Belfast back to her ancestral family farm, located at the foot of Dechomet Mountain in the Dromara Hills of County Down.
Here they established a music club and the ‘Magy's Farm Collective’, a mentoring scheme to support local young singer/songwriters and musicians.
Mountain Notes is based on a diary Maggie kept during 2020 and documents the early days of the music club before the Covid-19 pandemic brought restrictions on live performances across the world.
It also includes memoirs of her reconnection with the natural world in the surrounding mountains.
When lockdown restrictions were introduced, Maggie spent much of her time exploring the local area, taking daily walks with her husband, and becoming fully immersed in the beauty of the landscape.
Each chapter of the book is aptly named after the month of the year it relates to and is complemented with stunning photographic illustrations.
An excerpt from the ‘October’ chapter reads: ‘On the first day of this mellow month, the sky above the Mountain Road is a pristine blue, swept clean of all September’s debris.
‘The chocolate fields of Closkelt and Katesbridge are peaceful in the first frosted mists of the season. I’m standing in a short lane perfectly lined with six aged oak trees facing each other on either side as they guard the passageway now filled with crisp curls of fallen leaves.’
Maggie published her book in 2021, and as a long-standing supporter of The Donkey Sanctuary she decided that she would like to donate the entire proceeds to the animal welfare charity.
With three donkeys of their own, named Neilly, Sasha and Star, Maggie and Linley have first-hand experience of donkeys and have a particular soft spot for our favourite four-legged friends.
During her recent visit to present her cheque at the Belfast sanctuary, Maggie took lots of photos with the donkeys. She shared them on her Facebook page to keep buyers of her book updated on how their support had allowed her to support donkeys.
Maggie will continue to support The Donkey Sanctuary through any future book sales and on visiting the Belfast sanctuary recently, left a supply of books to sell in the onsite gift shop to visitors.
The Donkey Sanctuary offers donkey-assisted activities to people in the local community.
The ground-based activities support people’s self-development and wellbeing, helping individuals to better deal with challenging and stressful situations in everyday life, while also promoting positive attitudes towards donkeys.