MALVERN'S favourite donkeys will be back in town over the May Day weekend - but with a difference.

In previous years, the May Day donkey procession involved a climb from outside the Abbey Hotel in the town centre to St Ann's Well on the Malvern Hills.

But this year, the event's founder and organiser Rev Val Needham has given the procession a much shorter route, ending at the Malvhina spout on Belle Vue island.

She said: "‘I have not been well and I was tempted to give up doing this event but I was deeply aware of how much it is loved. So I decided to carry on but with some major adjustments to the schedule.

"I am really pleased with the changes I’ve made as they will give the hundreds of people who come to meet us at the Abbey Hotel the chance to enjoy much more of the ceremony that usually takes place up at St Ann’s Well.

"So this year the event will begin with an hour-long ceremony from noon to 1pm. It will start with a blessing of our local springs and waters."

Rescue donkeys Bluebell, Bluey, Daisy, Peter and Amadea will line up in front of the Abbey Hotel for the start of the ceremony, which will be conducted by Rev Needham, Dom Peter Coombes and Rev David Wetton.

The public are invited to bring along their pet dogs to be blessed, and there will be a reading of lines written by Rev Edmund Rea, a 17th-century vicar of Malvern.

After a ceremony with sea shells and flowers, eight-year-old Grace Giudicotti-Poplawska as the Young May Queen and Thomas Coombes, aged 15, as the Oak King will lead the procession to the Malvhina Spout where Rev David Wetton will conduct a blessing ceremony.

The procession this year is in aid of Lucy’ s Sanctuary for Holy Land Donkeys and the Penny Ha’Penny Horse and Pony Rescue Centre, run by Sue Penny and her family at Suckley, near Malvern.