59. Fairytale Farm, Chipping Norton

Three of the friendly residents of Fairytale Farm, near Chipping Norton, who offer a warm welcome to visitors.
Fairytale Farm is the only visitor attraction in the UK to put disabled children first in its design and layout, and with no pre-booking required.

Children will love the farm, located just outside Chipping Norton, which is a sensory and learning wonderland for all the family.

With its exciting adventure playground, an enchanted walk with a surprise around every corner and a chance to meet some amazing animals - including donkeys, goats, aplacas and rheas - there is so much to see and do.

But what is the story behind it? Although the farm isn't designedThere is plenty for children with and without disabilities to enjoy at Fairytale Farm. to be exclusively for disabled children, as it is open to everybody, the background story of the farm starts with the owners,

Nick and Nicola Laister's eldest daughter, Olivia, has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user. In their years of bringing up Olivia, Nick and Nicola found that there were 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," said Nick. "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."

Nick and Nicola decided in 2007 to acquire some land and create a tourist attraction where disabled children and their families can spend a day out in the countryside enjoying various rural activities on a site where everything is primarily designed around their needs.

Their vision was to create the sort of attraction that they would have liked to have visited with their own children, which Olivia could have enjoyed alongside her brothers and sister.

It was this final point which was most important as most families with a disabled child have children who are not disabled too. So to have a place that they could all enjoy together was important.

So Fairytale Farm was born, when the site was acquired in November 2008. Planning permission was granted in 2009 and work started in summer that year.

Nick added: "This facility is not a care facility or an institutional experience, but a family day out in the countryside, built around the needs of the family member whose needs are most difficult to cater for, but open to everybody. We have many families who visit us without any disabled children at all, which means that the Fairytale Farm idea is working. This is a truly inclusive experience which anybody can enjoy."

The Storybook Castle at Fairytale Farm."Fairytale Farm mixes classic fairy tales, animals and adventure play to create a sensory and learning wonderland for all the family.

"Children will love Fairytale Farm. With our exciting adventure playground, an enchanted walk with a surprise around every corner and a chance to meet our amazing animals, there is so much to see and do.

"Fairytale Farm is the UK’s first fully inclusive visitor attraction, where children with disabilities are as important in our design and layout as those without disabilities, and where no pre-booking is required. Everything is accessible and everybody is welcome!"

There are loads of new attractions at Fairytale Farm for 2018. Try out the brand new interactive dancing water fountains. And visit the new area, called Wilderness Walk, which includes a range of plants and wildlife habitats, including bird, bat and hedgehog boxes, log-piles, mini-beast hotel and worm-world, seed and nectar bar, bird feeding station and hibernation boxes.

There is also a touch box and a giant vegetable patch, where you can grab a spade and get digging. You can also meet the farm's three beautiful Shetland ponies, Hamish, Rupert and Dainty, in a new viewing area.

More information

Fairytale Farm
Chipping Norton
01608 238014

Fairytale Farm is open daily 10am to 5pm from 10 February to 24 December 2018.
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2018.