Profoundly autistic and hearing impaired, eight-year-old Edward Rixon’s young life has already been a battle.
His doting mother, Louise, admits simple things that most families take for granted – such as shopping or devoting equal time to each child – can often be a struggle.
So when Louise heard about Papworth Trust’s Kerry Farm, she thought it sounded like the perfect opportunity for a much-needed respite break.
But Louise was taken aback by just how much help both her and her lovely young son was able to get from staff at the farm, which provides an essential and supportive break for disabled people and their families.
Edward gained a new-found and therapeutic love of caring for farm animals and Louise was able to have the support she needed.
Seeing first-hand how farming can play a big part in therapy, Louise paid tribute to the staff and the charity and urged people to vote for Kerry Farm ahead of the National Lottery Awards which ends on midnight Wednesday 29th July.
Louise said: “We did different activities that I hadn’t even considered before as I didn’t think we could cope. We spent a lot of time with the animals and as the week progressed, Edward really liked the chickens and touched and fed the lambs.
“Before he had never paid any attention to animals or farming, but having the animals around him calmed him right down.
“On the last day, he just walked into the field and laid down. He is usually quite manic but he was so calm. Kerry Farm made that possible.”
Louise, who lives with her family in Monmouthshire, recently spent a week at Kerry Farm with Edward.
The Rixon’s are one of almost 150 families living with a disability which have been helped by the unique setting in the beautiful Welsh countryside.
With two other children – Isobel, 14, and Anna, 11 – Louise admitted: “There is no doubt it has had a huge impact on the family unit. There is a balance with keeping Edward safe, stimulated and entertained and ensuring I spend time with my other two daughters.
“Edward needs entertaining all the time but Isobel and Anna are brilliant with him. They don’t see themselves as carers but we see them in that role – without them it would be very hard at times.
“He is a beautiful child, but he is hard work. To be able to go somewhere like Kerry Farm where it is so open and non-judgemental was wonderful.
“We rarely have any respite as a family but Kerry Farm was able to offer that. It was so accessible and the staff had that ability to know what to do and make you feel relaxed straight away.
“We had a fantastic time and Papworth Trust is wonderful. I really hope Kerry Farm is successful in the National Lottery Awards. It deserves to be. I came home telling everyone what an amazing place it is – we would love to come back.”
Kerry Farm is the only Welsh health finalist in the National Lottery Awards with the winning picking up a cheque for £2,000 as well as the increased awareness a prestigious recognition would bring.
Voting for the National Lottery Awards ends at midnight on Wednesday 29th July. To vote for Kerry Farm, please visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/kerry-farm or telephone 0844 836 9701.
Papworth Trust offers essential support and care to disabled and older people, their families and carers. We help people of all ages to live independently in their own homes, to learn new skills, and to find and keep jobs that are right for them. Kerry Farm in West Wales, which provides support and respite for people affected by disability. To find out more about the charity please go to www.papworthtrust.org.uk