Our twins, Luke and Thomas, are 10 and are autistic with severe learning difficulties and global development delay. As their behaviour can be unpredictable and challenging, coupled with a desire to run at every opportunity, our home life had become very restricted.

We sought respite and found Cherry Trees, and it has been the best thing we have ever done. Over the last five years we have gone from tea visits and day cares to overnights and for the first time last year Luke & Thomas spent a week at Cherry Trees and Dave and I took a long overdue holiday. (Luckily the week at Cherry Trees coincided with our eldest son going away to camp!)

Luke and Thomas love going. When we left them for the first time, we knew that they would not miss us, but we hoped that they would enjoy themselves. We needn’t have worried – they had a great time and continue do so every time they visit. There are excited squeals and hand clapping from the back of the car when we approach and they can’t wait to run in, Luke heading for the soft play and Thomas for his favourite toy in the playroom.

For us, the time the boys spend at Cherry Trees is to relax and recharge, do jobs that we are unable to do when they are at home, and spend time with our other son without the twin’s needs being put first.

For Luke and Thomas’s elder brother, Aaron, his toys can be played with without the fear of them being broken or chewed, and he can have friends round to play which had been impossible before. As Aaron has also just started secondary school having Luke and Thomas away makes it easier to do his homework as I can spend time helping him without distraction.

It is very difficult to put into words just what Cherry Trees means to us as it has changed our lives for the better in so many ways - we are happy as we know that the care they receive is outstanding and they have access to experiences that we cannot provide, and that they are learning to be away from home without mum and dad which will be good for their future. I also firmly believe that being able to access respite has enabled us to stay together as a family much longer.

So, a big thank you to all the dedicated and amazing staff and volunteers at Cherry Trees. Our lives have been greatly improved.

Sam, Dave, Aaron, Luke and Thomas