A CHILDREN'S charity has had to close for the first time its 28 year history due to coronavirus.

The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, based in Millington near Lymm, was three months into its 2020 programme of activities for ill, disabled and socially disadvantaged children from the north west, but were forced to cancel all holidays and day visits for the foreseeable future to ensure the safety of the children, carers, volunteers and staff.

In 2020 CAFT was aiming to provide their services to more than 5,000 children, a figure which is now in jeopardy.

Chief executive Ian Eccles said: “The safety of the children and carers, and our staff and volunteers is our number one priority, so as much as it pains us to close our doors, it’s a measure we didn’t hesitate in taking to comply with government regulations, and keep everyone safe.

"We had such huge plans for this year – plans which would see us giving over 5,000 children the opportunity to have fun, to play and to simply be children. However, we’ve vowed to make it up to each and every child once this terrible situation is resolved, we’ll make sure they all get a positive CAFT experience one way or another.”

The charity had set itself a fundraising target of £1.2million in 2020 to enable them to provide holidays, day visits and Christmas Parties to more children than ever before.

To do this they have a full programme of events and sponsored activities, many of which have already been cancelled or postponed. Their annual Golf Day and Ladies Lunch events were due to take place at Mere Golf Resort & Spa in May and June, events which would secure in the region of £100,000 to enable them to continue their good work, and which have now been postponed until September and October.

They are currently considering alternative fundraising activities, but with the country in lockdown options are limited.

However, their volunteers and staff continue to support families from the region in any way they can, including supporting the Wear Pink for Hol campaign which is taking place on Friday.

Holly Smallman and her family had enjoyed visits to CAFT over several years, but sadly Holly (now aged 18) passed away recently, a great loss to her family and all at CAFT who had grown close to her.

On Friday Holly’s family are asking everyone to Wear Pink for Hol to remember their little girl, a campaign the charity are wholeheartedly backing on social media.

Mr Eccles continues: “I’m incredibly proud of our team at CAFT who are using their time to help others, many are helping care for vulnerable relatives, neighbours and friends – some have even signed up to be volunteers for the NHS and other community schemes. "We’re counting down the days until we can return to CAFT to resume our work for children and families from our region.

“Our website and social media will continue to be updated and accept donations, and if anyone would like to get in touch they can email ian.eccles@caft.co.uk.

"We’d like to thank everyone for their messages of support, we hope to soon be back making memories for these amazing children.”