Chingford Features Walthamstow

Funfair session for kids with special needs restored parent’s ‘faith in humanity’

Kids who would otherwise miss out were offered special sessions designed to suit their needs
By Zoe Dowsett

Beki and Riley at a special session at the Highams Park funfair (credit: Beki Wilkinson)
Beki and Riley at a special session at the Highams Park funfair (credit: Beki Wilkinson)

A local funfair operator restored one parent’s “faith in humanity” by ensuring children with special needs could still have a fun day out.

Amusement World, which runs a number of funfairs around the borough, has begun organising days with reduced noise, fewer flashing lights, spaced out attractions and a cap on visitors to avoid overwhelming children with autism and other conditions. 

The first session was held at the Highams Park fair, an event strongly opposed by some residents when it arrived in the area, after the idea was suggested by community volunteer and Platinum Champion Gail Penfold.

Amusement World organised the first session in Highams Park on 17th July and, after it proved popular with local families, held another at their Lloyd Park funfair on 8th August.

Beki Wilkinson attended the Highams Park fair with her 12-year-old stepson Riley, who has autism and struggles with queues, and her two other children Frankie, 4 and Shae, 9.

She told the Echo: “It was uplifting to be able to attend a funfair that was so easy for us to attend. We could walk straight onto rides, which took all the pressure off of the day as we didn’t have to queue. 

“Riley loved the rides and is still talking about it – it’s restored my faith in humanity.” 

Huda and her son Haider at the Lloyd Park funfair (credit: Huda Mughal)

Huda Mughal attended the special session in Lloyd Park with her three teenagers – including 16-year-old Haider, who was recently diagnosed with autism – and said it was her family’s first day out together in years.

She said: “Going to the fair was a big step for us, but Haider really enjoyed it. The staff were so patient and didn’t rush people getting on and off rides. It was a great opportunity for us, and an amazing step for Haider.”

Amusement World also provided 100 free wristbands through a local food bank for families who couldn’t otherwise afford a ticket. 

Louise Manning, Amusement Word secretary, said: “The funfair community, including us, always aim to give back. We wanted to organise and make these funfair sessions free so they could be accessible to as many people as possible. 

“We’re a family business and we believe that all children and their families deserve to be comfortable and happy on days out.”

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