The UK’s first fairytale farm designed around the needs of children with varying disabilities opened this Bank Holiday Weekend [25-27 May] at Chipping Norton; Pendie Wasswa reports.
The park was developed by husband and wife, Nick and Nicola Laister, with some funding from the council but most was down to them. The couple currently live just outside Chipping Norton with their eldest daughter Olivia who has cerebral palsy, she inspired them to develop an attraction which she and her siblings could benefit from outdoors as well as take pleasure in various rural activities.
Fun, excitement, countryside We spoke exclusively to owner Nick Laister ahead of the opening and he summarised the park in three words: “Fun, excitement, countryside”.
The turn-up-and-play farm park is built with sensory, learning and physical disability needs designed to give a truly inclusive experience which can also be enjoyed by children without disabilities.
Disabled children will have their own ranch that operates like any tourist attraction which will benefit the rest of their family and without pre-booking
Nick added: “There are very few rural facilities for disabled children and their families. As most parents of children with special needs know, much of the countryside is out of bounds.
“Although there are a number of centres for disabled children, these tend to be institutional and require advanced booking, and most mainstream attractions are not fully accessible, despite the efforts of owners. Our vision is to create the sort of attraction that we would have liked to have visited with our own children, which Olivia could have enjoyed alongside her brothers and sister.”
Mind’s eye at Fairy Farm Fairytale Farm is contains a mix of animals, play and sensory experiences including:
Enchanted Walk: a unique sensory trail with surprising features at every turn, many of which are interactive, and designed to appeal particularly to younger children.
Huff and Puff: a playground, complete with a Fairytale Castle to explore, a combine harvester to climb on board, a special swing for wheelchair users and much more.
Alfie and Friends: a collection of animals, including ponies, donkeys, alpacas, goats, chickens, rabbits, and from South America, our fantastic rheas.
The park is open daily until 1 September 2013, then weekends only until 3 November 2013 for our Illuminated Weekends events (with the Cafe, Shop and Enchanted Walk staying open until 9pm every Saturday and Sunday evening). For more information visit www.fairytalefarm.co.uk.