Golfers tell of the friendly fox who joined them on the greens for chocolate and sausages
Members of Royal County Down Golf Club have expressed sadness following the death of a friendly fox with a taste for Nutella - who had become a rather unusual mascot.
Hastings Hotel director and golf club member Aileen Martin led the tributes to her "sweet-toothed" friend Donny who passed away on Christmas Eve.
"It was always a highlight to see Donny on the course and it's something I'm definitely going to miss," she said.
"She always kept a respectful distance unless you had food."
Donny was discovered nursing a badly infected bite wound by a member of staff at the prestigious Newcastle club. Mrs Martin described how the "very friendly fox" had a weak spot for chocolate and no appetite for fruit.
"One of the ladies I play with always keeps food in her bag and she lifted out a banana and tried to feed Donny, but she turned her nose up," Aileen recalled.
"I had a Nutella wafer bar so I gave it to her and she absolutely loved it - she would eat right out of your hand."
The bountiful supply of snacks ensured that Donny never made off with Aileen's golf ball, but other players were not so lucky.
Another avid golfer, who encountered the "beautiful" fox for the last time just a few weeks ago, said Donny became a mascot for the club.
"She ran off with my ball a few times, but once she realised it wasn't food she dropped it - it was quite amusing and in my case always advantageous," he said.
The golf enthusiast, who tees off on the prestigious course every Sunday, often witnessed players feeding Donny sausages which she enjoyed.
"There was a vet came to check up on her regularly and she always seemed to be in good health - she looked pretty good the last time I saw her."
Animal rescuer Debbie Nelson managed to get the distressed vixen to a vet on Monday, but it was too late - Donny died in her arms a few hours later.
Joyce McCammon, who said Donny's antics never did her round any harm, learned of the news on Thursday after noticing the wild animal's absence on the green.
"It was very sad to hear about it," she said.
Mrs McCammon's husband Bert recalled how the daring fox once tried to run off with his club after picking it up by the handle.
"She didn't get very far," he added. The couple both agreed that they will cherish memories of close encounters with the "majestic" creature who will be missed by many.