The visits, which were organised by Variety Wessex, not only provided huge amounts of fun and laughter, but also gave the children a fascinating insight into the world of primates, broadening their horizons while supporting learning and development.

Monkey World is a primate ape rescue centre, not a zoo. Walking amongst trees to the various enclosures, means it’s possible to see the animals in a setting that’s as close to nature as possible.

There’s a good mix of primates to look at, and the children were particularly captivated by the agility and climbing skills of woolly monkeys, which use their muscular tails as a fifth hand as they leap from branch to branch. Observing the chimpanzees through glass allowed everyone to get right up close to them in complete safety.

On both days, the weather was perfect: sunshine with a little bit of cloud cover to stop things getting too hot. All the children travelled on Laguna coaches and enjoyed picnic lunches. They also had plenty of time to play on Monkey World’s fabulous play equipment.

The pupils came from Linwood School’s Special Needs Group, St Clement’s and St John’s Infant School and Bethany Junior School.

Frances Cornelius, chair of Variety Wessex, said:

“Variety normally has one annual day out to Monkey World, but this year we held two. We had lovely sunny weather and lots of smiley faces seeing all the very happy residents at Monkey World. These days out were very special indeed.

A big huge thanks to Shan and BC Club for once again funding the two whole days including entrance costs for everybody in attendance and all the coaches from our really great Laguna coaches and their drivers. Thank you to Alison Cronin and the staff at Monkey World who welcome Variety children every year, as they have done for at least the last 20 years. It is such a wonderful experience for everyone who attends. Thank you to all the teachers and pastoral care staff from all the schools who take the time and trouble to arrange for children to attend. Many thanks to to Judy, Jenny, Barbie and her son Tyler who accompanied the schools on these days out.”

Julia Winston, SENDco at Bethany Junior School, said: “

“The children from Bethany had the most perfect day. The primates were all out and about and visible, which was lovely. One of the boys came running up to me at lunchtime to tell me how he had been sitting face to face with a chimp – the chimp was kissing him through the glass! My group had fun watching a cheeky little fellow swinging around, showing us all of his best moves. The weather was spot-on too, and so it was fun to play in the field and on the playground. One of our boys conquered his difficulties and made it up the rope structure and down the big slide – a real breakthrough moment. So thank you once again for your generosity and your love and kindness.”

From left: Jenny Davis, Tyler Hislop, Barbie Hislop and Judy Hiscoke from Variety Wessex

Tanya Shenton, Parent Support Worker, St Clement’s and St John’s Infant School, said:

“All our children had a wonderful day at Monkey World. Hardly any of our children had been before and they loved seeing all the different monkeys. The trip has given them all some lovely memories that they will take with them up to Junior School next year. Thank you all again so much for all your kind support for our children.”

Elisabeth Rawson-Jones, Pastoral Lead at Bethany Junior School said:

“A huge thank you for the amazing day that we had at Monkey World. We started with very excited children singing Disney songs on the coaches. They were bursting to see the Monkeys! They were not disappointed – the monkeys were out in force. The children saw chimps being fed, orang-utans swinging on their play equipment and the baby orang-utan all curled up on a bed of straw. There were also gibbons having fun and playful spider monkeys.

There was more in the play park! For us to see these children running around a field playing and having so much fun fills me with such joy and happiness for them. They can be children for one day without any cares or worries, such a pleasure to see.

The coach trip back to school was much quieter! Lots of sleepy and exhausted children – the one thing that they all had in common was a big smile from a wonderful day out. Thank you to Variety, Bournemouth Boys Club and Laguna (especially Andy our driver) for giving these children such amazing memories.”