Children had the chance to learn about, feed and care for small animals during special visits organised by East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). The trips were for siblings who are either bereaved or have a brother or sister receiving care at Milton.
Nineteen children in total visited the village’s Small Animal Unit, at the College of West Anglia, on 6th and 11th April. They started by spending time with a host of furry or feathered friends, including chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils and ferrets.
In addition to learning how to care for them, they weighed the animals’ food, changed their water and cleaned litter trays. Then, in the afternoon, the children had an opportunity to hold or stroke many more creatures, including giant snails, hamsters, snakes, tortoises, geckos and cockroaches.
EACH Play Specialist Helen Thrower said: “It was an absolutely brilliant, interactive day and the children did and learnt so much. Everyone mucked in and it was great to see them feeding the animals, as well as cleaning up and sweeping floors.
“They were so enthusiastic and it was lovely seeing the children tell their parents all about it. They clearly had an amazing time.”
Helen said she was grateful to Tracey Palmer, the Companion Animal Centre Co-ordinator at the Small Animal Unit.
“Tracey kindly hosted us for the day and has supported us for quite a few years now,” she said.
“Her passion shines through and all the staff at the unit were brilliant, very helpful and so informative.”
The event was made possible thanks to the support of volunteers from the hospice, including volunteer photographer Dik Ng. EACH runs sibling days during the school holidays, for children aged five upwards. They allow siblings to come together, have fun and make friends in a safe environment.
EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Norfolk. In addition to Milton, it also has hospices in Ipswich and near Norwich.
Pictures: Dik Ng