Daughter inspires disabled friendly farm in Oxfordshire

Olivia at Fairytale Farm The Laisters were inspired to build the Fairytale Farm for their daughter Olivia

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A husband and wife say they are turning their daughter's disability "into something positive" by setting up an accessible childrens' activity farm.

Nick and Nicola Laister left their Wantage home with their children to move to a neglected piece of farmland to develop the £750,000 project.

They hope it will be a unique visitors' attraction for children like daughter Olivia, 13, who has cerebral palsy.

"The problem we had as parents was that much of the open countryside was out of bounds," Mr Laister said.

"Most commercial attractions do their best but they're not entirely accessible for the disabled."

'Inspire others'

West Oxfordshire District Council granted the Laisters planning permission to build on Southcombe Farm near Chipping Norton in October 2009.

The family say it will be the setting for an all-inclusive attraction where both disabled and non-disabled children can enjoy a day out together.

A sensory trail, fairytale-themed adventure playground and a selection of farm animals are planned for the site.

"What really brings children with certain disabilities alive is to be able to hold the animals and stroke them," Mr Laister said.

"So we're going to have guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens, generally smaller animals, but we will have a few larger ones including alpacas, goats and possibly the odd emu."

He said the farm was expected to open to visitors within a year.

"There's this massive gaping hole in the market and if I can create this, make it work and prove that it's viable I absolutely believe that it will inspire others around the country to do the same thing.

"It's brought the whole family together and this project has been a way of having something to go for," Mr Laister said.

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