THE mission of the Children's Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT) is to give holidays and happy memories to youngsters which could tragically be their last.

Terminally ill and chronically sick children as well as those with disabilities and learning difficulties have been visiting the 400-year-old farmhouse in Millington, near Lymm, since 1992.

The charity also offers a break and a change of scene for young carers and children that come from poverty.

Paul Farrington, chief executive of CAFT, said: "The place has a magical effect on children. We have children who are 10, 11 or 12 with bad behavioural problems and they walk through the courtyard and they’re with us for a week and they suddenly become little angels.

"I think it’s just the fact we’re in the countryside and the courtyard is very enclosed and comforting so they feel quite safe and secure.

"We’ve seen benefits like improved confidence and we have even seen some examples of physical improvements. We had one young man from the Royal School for the Deaf and he was very badly disabled.

"His carers said he had two seizures in the week he was there and normally had six or seven a day.

"They were amazed by this physical change. You could put it down to a change of scenery or the animals that seem to have an amazing effect on some of the disabled children."

Those animals include chickens, ducks and geese. There is an aviary with budgies, pheasants and quail and there are five alpacas on the field.

Paul, aged 58, added: "All the kids that come here have never been up close with an alpaca so the smiles that creates is amazing."

There is also an adventure playground, junior assault course, outdoor kitchen area, sports hall and sensory room on 10 acres of land.

Paul joined CAFT as a volunteer in 2006 after 23 years working for Adidas. He was made chief executive just a year later when the previous chief executive Anne Davies left.

His son Thomas also works for CAFT as head of operations and his stepdaughter Maryana is doing a fire walk for the charity this month.

Paul said: "It was perfect timing because I’d had enough in the big corporate world.

"When I stood outside and I saw the kids throwing themselves down a waterslide and having a ball I thought to myself why do I want to work in a big office in the middle of Manchester or Leeds?"

But the job also has its downsides.

Paul added: "Emotionally, if you connect with one of the children and get a phone call to say they have passed away that is pretty difficult.

"On the other side, the biggest worry is money. We don’t get anything from the government so we have to raise £1million a year. Every month you are constantly aware that you have a target to bring in."

- If you can help CAFT with fundraising call 01565 830053

- Read next week's paper for our 'meet the team' feature with CAFT