Youngsters get close to animals as centre holds its big family fun day

FRIENDS Sariba Dampha, four, stroking Biscuit the eight-month-old golden retriever at the petting zoo.     Pictures: Sarah Standing (111784-6452)
FRIENDS Sariba Dampha, four, stroking Biscuit the eight-month-old golden retriever at the petting zoo. Pictures: Sarah Standing (111784-6452)
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DELIGHTED organisers of an annual family fun day said they have had their best turnout ever.

Park Families Sure Start Centre, in Leigh Park, held this year’s event at Warren Park Primary School, in Sandleford Road, and saw hundreds of youngsters and their parents arrive and enjoy themselves.

MAGIC Chloe Williams, two, Casey Coles, four, Bethany Coles, eight, Georgia Smith, four, and Harvey-Lee Williams, four, with their willow wands.     (111784-6426)

MAGIC Chloe Williams, two, Casey Coles, four, Bethany Coles, eight, Georgia Smith, four, and Harvey-Lee Williams, four, with their willow wands. (111784-6426)

Among the attractions were face painting, badge making and arts and crafts, along with a bouncy castle, raffle and cake stall.

But the most popular attraction was the petting zoo, featuring a selection of farm and domestic animals for youngsters to experience up close.

Laura Harding, 40, of Southwood Road, Hayling Island, brought her two-year-old son David for the first time and said they would definitely be back.

‘He absolutely loved it,’ she said. ‘At first he was a bit wary of the big cow in the farm, but eventually he lost his fear and really enjoyed himself.

‘Hooking the ducks out of the pond was also great fun, and the whole thing was a good size and felt really warm and friendly.’

Park Families CEO Sarah Lamburne said despite the slightly overcast weather more people had turned up than in previous years.

‘It’s been a great day,’ she said. ‘Everyone looks like they’re enjoying themselves and it’s lovely to see so many people turn up.’

Funded by Hampshire County Council, the centre relies on volunteers to put on events and Sarah said she was very grateful to everyone who helped out.

She said: ‘We had 16 volunteers on the day and I just want to say thank you to all of them for their hard work. This wouldn’t be possible without them.’