The Donkey Santuary has paid tribute to a very special resident, who has died aged 17.

Basil was popular among staff and visitors and his friendly personality earned him a space in the sanctuary’s “shelter one”, where he could meet visitors to the yard in Sidmouth, Devon.

“He did himself and us proud once given the opportunity, and before he knew it he was attending weddings, including one of our very own vet nurses, being filmed for children’s television and being an ambassador for our junior vet days” said Donkey Sanctuary vet Vicky Banfield.

“He was the epitome of patience on these days, letting all manner of things be done to him, like having a look in his mouth, bandaging his legs and even letting me take his temperature without a second thought. Of course he was always rewarded in his favourite way: cuddles and ginger biscuits.”

During a recent dental check Basil was diagnosed with a tumour, but thanks to veterinary treatment the growth was stopped.

But during a follow-up check, it was found the tumour had started to grow again and “no more could be done”.

“He was given pain relief and everyone was given the chance to say goodbye,” said Vicky.

“It was heartbreaking as he was still in such good spirits, even though you could see he was uncomfortable.

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“He gave me the best cuddle and when I shouted goodbye over the fence he threw up his top lip in salute. For ever the showman!”

Vicky said Basil will always have a special place in her heart.

“While it is very hard to play favourites with the donkeys at the sanctuary as they all have their own special characteristics and charm, there are some that just quietly creep into your heart and before you know it you’re smitten,” she added. “Basil was one of those donkeys for me.”