Neighbours’ kindness touches senior couple

Carnarvon Street resident Diane Brown sits next to her concrete donkey ornament that neighbours put back together after it was stolen and damaged.

Carnarvon Street resident Diane Brown sits next to her concrete donkey ornament that neighbours put back together after it was stolen and damaged.

Smashed lawn ornament repaired and back in place

He’s only as high as the average person’s knee, but he weighs 60 pounds. That’s because he’s made of cement.

The grey-and-black donkey lawn ornament has been stationed in Jake and Diane Brown’s front yard on Carnarvon Street for 25 years.

“Children would walk up the street to look at the donkey and to touch him,” Diane said.

But two months ago the donkey went missing.

Neighbour Natasha Hutcheson found Diane standing over the donkey in Carnarvon Park a few days later.

“His legs and ears were broken off and bits of wire were sticking out. She seemed so sad about the donkey,” Hutcheson said of Diane’s reaction.

Unbeknownst to Diane, Hutcheson swung into action later that day. With the help of her four children, ages 5 to 12, and husband Mark, the broken donkey was brought back to the Hutchesons’ yard. With the help of a cement tradesman, the donkey was put back together. Hutcheson’s kids picked out “just the right grade of grey” and painted the ornament. Then they took it over to the Browns’ house across the street.

“She knocked on our door and said “We’re home!’” Diane said. “We didn’t know what she was talking about, but it was that the donkey was home.” Along with the ornament, Mark had written a one-page story from the ornament’s perspective about its surmised travels of being kidnapped “by a group of humans of the adolescent variety” and taken to Carnarvon Park, a former race track.

“I am a strong little guy, but their attempt to ride me around the park proved too much for my little body,” he wrote.

The Browns are delighted to have the donkey back, but were even more touched by the Hutcheson family’s actions.

“It tells me how kind neighbours are,” Diane said.

Natasha has equally kind words for the Browns.

“They’re nice people and I just felt bad that kids would do that.”

The donkey is now chained to the house, the better to prevent any more late-night excursions.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com