Farm retreat near Kenilworth helping children with special needs

Simon and Kate Morris, and their six-month-old son Henry with Reggie the goat and Freckles the sheep.
Simon and Kate Morris, and their six-month-old son Henry with Reggie the goat and Freckles the sheep.

Looking for a safe peaceful place to take your children with special needs outdoors?

Spencer’s Retreat, a six-acre property set back from the main road in Berkswell about five miles north of Kenilworth, provides just that with a place for children to have fun outside with a variety of rescue animals.

Simon and Kate Morris, who manage the property, have two children on the autism spectrum and the couple’s vision for the retreat is: “The heart of our vision is to provide children with special needs and their families a safe space to unwind, explore and learn, reducing anxiety and creating positive experiences.”

The animals on the property include two kune pigs, three saddleback pigs, four pygmy goats, Reggie the goat and Freckles the sheep.

They also have some rare breed Manx sheep, which Simon said there are only 800 left in all of the UK.

Having rescue animals at the retreat really goes along with the theme of a retreat providing a safe place for others in need.

Kate said: “People feel like they can really connect with them because they’ve all got their own story.

“Everybody’s got their own story and journey.”

The retreat property also has a natural play area made up of logs, a slide and trampoline.

They’ve also converted four stables into a relaxing indoor sitting and lounge-like area, with an outdoor sitting area and sandpit for children

Kate said: “It’s about the environment. If the environment is right these children can achieve a lot.

“As soon as they get to the animals the anxiety just goes. It’s just absolutely fantastic.”

The converted stables lounge area also includes an area with space for the children to adjust to the new environment over a few games, Lego and even a few musical instruments.

Kate added: “It’s about creating a positive experience for the whole family, including the siblings as well. It’s about making a support network for people.”

Spencer’s Retreat holds a variety of regular events such as the sensory and craft events they held over the six-week summer holidays.

Simon said: “We do lots of different events. We do a farmer experience.

“The kids get to go right up to the animals and feed them.”

There are two Halloween events scheduled for October 23 and 31 at 1.30pm at the Berkswell property, along with an Autumn farm day on October 26.

The retreat property also has solar-powered compostable toilets, which were funded by the Kenilworth Rotary Club and built by a volunteer.

The couple has plans to expand the current allotments, which already include a poly-tunnel that was funded by the Kenilworth and Balsall Common Lions Clubs.

Spencer’s Retreat can not only provide a quiet relaxing place for families with special needs children but the elderly too.

Kate said: “We’ve had a lot of interest from care homes as a place to relax for the elderly.”

But Simon and Kate Morris, need help to keep the property running, particularly through the upcoming winter months.

Simon said: “We have to pay the running costs ourselves.”

A Just Giving page online here https://bit.ly/2lyDKSH has been started to help the couple run the retreat property.

Anyone interested in volunteering can see their website at www.spencersretreat.com or the Facebook page for more information.

Simon added: “It’s just letting people know we are here.”