Have cuddles and cake at new guinea pig therapy centre
- Credit: Contributed
A guinea pig paradise is set to open soon in Norfolk, in the form of a therapy centre where visitors can play with the animals and meet new people.
Diana Taylor, 49, from East Rudham, launched Cuddly Cavies in 2013, offering guinea pig visits to care homes, schools and disability groups.
Mrs Taylor first started it as her son Leslie is autistic and she was struggling to find childcare at the time when living in Hampshire and wanted to do something that would fit in with looking after him and help his development.
Her sister kept them as pets as a child so she knew that their size and nature would be perfect for therapy and the sessions are designed to provide a sensory experience and prompt vocalisation.
Since moving to Norfolk five years ago, it has continued to grow and there are now seven franchises across the UK and she owns 22 guinea pigs.
Mrs Taylor said: "We had a lady in bed in a care home who had a guinea pig on her bed and her carer said it was the most she had ever heard her speak, so everyone can benefit."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many sessions had to be cancelled last year and it got Mrs Taylor thinking about the future.
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She is now creating Cavies & Cake in Fakenham with friend Michelle Mills in Oxborough Lane, next to Aldiss.
It will boast six rooms, including a sensory one, with the runs set around the walls and a relaxing courtyard garden.
It will be open to everyone, from carers and those with additional needs to those that just fancy making some new friends, with tea and cake available too.
Mrs Taylor said: "When coronavirus hit so many of the dementia care centres and cafés and support units that carers and disability groups use stopped and many are not opening again due to funding.
"They need somewhere to go and this building is amazing."