Donkey man passes away

A donkey on blackheath by flickr user Eat Your Greens
Len Thorne, who looked after the donkeys on Blackheath, next to the gates of Greenwich Park has passed away. Below are some of the comments that were posted on another post, remembering him.

The story was also covered by The News Hopper, and the same story appeared in This Is Local London.

According to their story, the donkeys will continue:

To book the donkeys, or find out about the funeral call Ms Ahmet on 07762 389 814 or email

Below are the comments from the other post. Apologies for not managing to write this post sooner:

House of Joy wrote:

This is […] about the sad news that the Blackheath Donkey Man Len Thorne died last week on 11th July. Flowers mark the spot nearest to where the donkeys were and there is a notice giving his family’s phone numbers. Len devoted 64 years to bringing his donkeys to Blackheath. He was also an anti-war poet. A brave man. His Humanist funeral is planned to take place on the track – look out for news.

Jane True wrote:

“so sad to hear this… Len’s donkeys carried my bridesmaids through Deptford market at our wedding in ’97 , he was a lovely man. I was proud to be an honorary donkey girl. God Bless you Len .”

Michelle O’Brien wrote:

“This is the gentleman whose donkeys were alleged by the Daily Mail a few years ago to have been killed and eaten by immigrant gypsies (I forget where the Mail said they came from – Romania perhaps, possibly Bulgaria; anyway somewhere definitely “foreign”.)

The donkeys had in fact been at home in their field on Shooters Hills enjoying a well-earned rest from giving rides to kids on Blackheath for a few weeks.

The Guardian exposed the Mail’s story as a fabrication – a typical piece of anti-immigrant, anti-traveler Mail bigotry – and backed by the true facts launched a mini-campaign to get the tabloid to publish a retraction.

Needless to say, the Mail simply ignored this and let the story stand – with no retraction, no apology, and no acknowledgement of the truth.”

House of Joy replied:

“Absolutely correct in all you say Michelle. Thank you. It says it all about the Daily Mail. Mr Thorne was a serious, thinking man, dedicated to his donkeys amd also concerned with world problems – not long ago he read to me an anti-war poem he had written. We used to discuss so many subjects when I visited him, May he rest in peace and also get the Humanist funeral he wished for, right there on the donkey track.”

Jon Lee wrote:

“I seem to remember it being The Daily Star and Somalian refugees. But I can see that the Mail might have made up their own version of it.”

Blackheath Bird wrote:

“Michelle/House of Joy – While the gutter press may well have fabricated the bit about Mr Thorne’s donkeys being eaten by foreigners, surely it is true that some animals were actually stolen? I clearly remember a TV interview in which a female member of Mr Thorne’s family said she feared the donkeys had probably “entered the food chain” (her exact words), and Mr Thorne has referred to the theft in subsequent interviews over the years. There is of course always the possibility that animal lovers who dislike seeing donkeys used for rides could have taken them.”

ThePirateKing wrote:

“I remember talking to Len on Sunday and being very moved by just how upset he was about the recent theft of some young donkeys that had been taken from the field at Shooter’s Hill. So some animals were stolen for real. My hazzy memory places the recent in early summer. They included animals a few months old, I think.
Mr Bugle – any chance the news of Len’s sad passing might get its own front page slot. I only found it be accident here? Thank you, Sir.”

House of Joy wrote:

“Yes Mr Bugle – please put on front page – I don’t know how to operate this system in order to ask you. Pirate King – could you try too please? News of Len’s funeral not available yet. His wish is for a service on the donkey track before the cemetery.”

Photo is by Flickr user Eat Your Greens.


Filed under blackheath

5 responses to “Donkey man passes away

  1. Anonymous 123

    Sad news. Part of my childhood and that of my own children. Some years ago, a few do-gooders forced him to move his donkeys from the field in Brooklands Park – always known to the locals as ‘The Donkey Field’ as they said it was unsuitable for their wellbeing. The donkeys had been there for many years without any problem and the local children loved them there. Because of this campaign against Len, Greenwich Council suddenly realised then that it was a prime building plot and built on what had been a lovely field so spoiling it not only for Len and his donkeys but for the local people too!

  2. Anonymous

    Happy memories of the donkeys, RIP

  3. Lorayne Ahmet

    Thank you to all that have left kind words about my father I am desperately trying to organise his funeral to take place at his pitch which is his wish but due to the Olympics for some reason they have shut off access to the pitch and I cannot find out when we will be allowed to access to hold the funeral . I shall post further news on here and anyone that knew my father are more than welcome celebrate his life. I will carry on giving rides as dads wish was to continue to give rides to the children. My email addressis i

  4. House of Joy

    I think Blackheathens and Londoners should know that LOCOG who have been given a lease for the area of the donkey rides have seen fit to remove, without permission or consultatio with Len’s family – all the floral tributes left for Mr Thorne – as well as a poster from his family giving contact details. A disgraceful shameful way to behave.

  5. Lorayne Ahmet

    Len Thorne funeral will take place at the donkey pitch outside Greenwich park on the 1st Octobet at 12.00 then on to Charlton park cementary anyone that knew my father is welcome to attend no flowers please which was his wish donations can be made either to a memorial fund to place a memorial on the heath as a tribute to the service he gave the children of the borough or towards the upkeep of his donkeys contact me by email

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