Carluke teacher’s donkey is three times Highland Show champion

Elma Cunningham and her champion donkey Gamlingay Love in the Mist at home, Hillhead Farm. (Picture Sarah Peters).
Elma Cunningham and her champion donkey Gamlingay Love in the Mist at home, Hillhead Farm. (Picture Sarah Peters).

Retired teacher Elma Cunningham is celebrating again, after her mare - or jenny - was overall Highland Show donkey champion for the third time.

It was a hat trick for Gamlingay Love in a Mist, who was Highland champion in 2012 and 2013, and at nine years old was the judges’ favourite again this year.

She was also British supreme champion in 2011.

Heading for the show, Elma wasn’t too confident.

“We got there and had a look around and there were some really cracking donkeys,” she said.

But Love in a Mist won her class, then was judged champion mare, and in the overall donkey championship, against a stallion and a filly, ran out well to take the top honours.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Elma.

And there was more success: she was showing a second donkey, and Gamlingay Micky Me was judged champion gelding.

Elma, who taught at Carluke High for over three decades, was brought up with horses on the Russell family farm, Hillhead, and has had donkeys all her life. As well as showing and judging them, she is a welfare adviser for the Donkey Sanctuary charity, currently ‘fostering’ three animals which have been rescued or given up by owners.

She is passionate about donkeys, and part of her delight in the Highland Show success is that it raises the profile of the animals.

“They are not stupid,” she said. “They are highly intelligent and they don’t deserve the ridicule they can get.

“Taking them out to shows promotes the humble donkey, and takes away the ridicule.”

She was able to promote donkeys a lot more this year! BBC Landward staff were so impressed with Elma and her donkeys, they asked her to bring them back to the showground to film them last Sunday. She can still be seen on episode 12 on the BBC iplayer.

“We are famous!” laughed Elma.

Another prize ticket delighted her too. Coco, one of the Donkey Sanctuary’s animals, also went to the show, and took a 6th in his class.