A FAMILIAR face on Llandudno’s West Shore beach, will be hanging up his reins after giving holidaymakers rides for donkey’s years.

Philip Talbot, aged 80, is putting his string of six donkeys, named Sean, Snowy, Charlie, Heidi, Lucy and Nick, into retirement and giving up work himself after more than 60 years on the beach.

Four of the animals will go to a sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, and Philip will keep two as pets.

He started working for his uncle as a teenager who ran donkeys on the North Shore, and has been in the business more or less ever since, apart from a two year stint in the Army as a national serviceman.

He started his own string of donkeys on the West Shore more than 30 years ago and has been pleasing holidaymakers ever since. At one time he had as many as 10 donkeys and one or two ponies working on the beach.

North Wales Pioneer: The donkeys waiting to be fed. Picture: Kerry RobertsThe donkeys waiting to be fed. Picture: Kerry Roberts

He said: “Now the time has come for me to retire and sit back a little, I’ve really enjoyed the work and it has been rewarding seeing the faces of youngsters as they rode along the beach. I suppose you could say it is the end of an era for the West Shore.

“Back when I worked for my uncle we weren’t allowed to start until 10am, had to stop between 1.00 and 2.00pm, when the donkeys had their girths loosened and were given nose bags, then on until 6pm. There was a inspector there from the council to make sure the rules wer obeyed.

“At that time rides were 6p a go (two and a halfpence in current money), last season it was £2 a ride. Times have changed.”

He added: “I honestly believe the donkeys enjoyed their life, but they were never backwards in demanding food and would bray loudly when they wanted to be fed.

“But when I was in the Army doing my national service I was posted to Benghazi in Libya and I was shocked to see the way donkeys were treated there, there was no equivalent of the RSPCA and there was a lot of cruelty.”