Aboyne event raises some £28,000 for animals

THE DUCHESS of Rothesay demonstrated her love for animals as guest of honour at a fundraising garden party in Deeside that raised a record amount for an equine welfare charity.

Camilla looked relaxed as she spent over an hour meeting guests at the event at Dess near Aboyne which raised around 28,000 for the Brooke Hospital for Animals.

Camilla, who became president of the equine charity shortly after visiting Pakistan in 2006 to see the work being done in the wake of a devastating earthquake in the country, was also reunited with the familiar face of Porridge the donkey.

The last time Camilla crossed paths with the 30-year-old donkey four years ago at the Marcliffe Hotel during another Brooke event, Porridge slipped from a catwalk. Camilla said: "We were all so worried about him."

The duchess, who was looking resplendent in a mint Armani dress, enjoyed tea with some of the guests and drew raffle tickets from Porridge's panniers.

Camilla was also given a tour of the stalls at the fundraising event last Wednesday (August 20) and seemed particularly captivated by the wire sculptures of horses and ponies created by artist Laura Antebi from Troon, Ayrshire.

Laura commented: "She said she was very impressed with the sculptures and she was asking me all about how I make them. She actually asked me for a business card but I didn't have one on me at the time. I don't know if they managed to get one to her or not!"

Mike Baker, the chief executive of the Brooke, paid tribute to the duchess for the hands-on approach she has taken to her role as president of the welfare charity.

He said: "Her enthusiasm for the Brooke comes straight from the heart - she loves horses and has a really good feel for what we do. She is a great ambassador. Her presence increases the prestige at an event like this. We are not a well-known charity but having an active president who believes in the charity really helps transform our profile."

Over 300 people attended the event that was hosted by Linda Moncur Anderson, who previously organised the fundraising event at the Marcliffe Hotel four years ago that helped raise more than 23,000 for the Brooke.

Linda said: "We are absolutely delighted to raise that amount as 28,000 will have a huge impact in the countries that the Brooke works in.

"The money could be used to set up a mobile unit to travel around helping animals or it could be put towards training vets in these countries which would be great as the money would then have a lasting impact."

The Brooke is the UK's leading overseas equine welfare charity dedicated to alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys and mules working in the poorest parts of the world.

The charity reaches 700,000 animals and over three million poverty-stricken people who depend on these working animals to feed, clothe and educate their families.