FAMILIES from across Warrington enjoyed a free night at the circus thanks to local businesses.

Circus Starr hosted 50 families from the National Autistic Society Warrington Branch and Cheshire Autism Practical Support (ChAPS) group for a special performance.

The circus, which was performing at Victoria Park, on Knutsford Road, last week offers free sessions to children with disabilities.

And the production run with the help of a new interactive visual story app which helps children with autism access live performances

The app, Show and Tell, is available free and can be used on an iPhone or iPad.

Because new experiences and environments can cause anxiety in children on the autistic spectrum, visual stories are often used to help a child see a situation in advance and so help reduce stress at the actual event.

"Visual supports can be valuable tools for many people with autism, helping them navigate situations like days out that many of us might take for granted," said Heather Wildsmith, cultural development manager at the National Autistic Society

Neville Wilson, director at Circus Starr added: "Being able to spend time with your family having fun is important. However, this is not always possible for families whose lives are affected by autism. Show and Tell enables us to reach even more children by giving them tangible support before, during and after our show."

Any extra funds raised by the show will be donated to local children's charity Claire House Children's Hospice.