Woodbridge garden centre to host 'quiet grotto' for children with sensory needs

Dobbies Santa 1 SA
Dobbies Christmas - Santa
Picture by Stewart Attwood
All images © Stewart

Dobbies in Woodbridge will host a quiet Santa's grotto this Christmas for children with autism and other sensory needs - Credit: Stewart Attwood

A garden centre in Woodbridge is set to introduce a quiet Santa's grotto so that children with autism and other sensory needs can still enjoy the festive activities. 

The Dobbies store in Grundisburgh Road will be one of the 50 stores in the UK to host the quiet grotto on Friday, December 10. 

The grottos will allow youngsters and their families to experience the delight of meeting Father Christmas and his elves but in a way in which the sound and visual elements have been specially adapted to help minimise anxiety. 

Michelle Walklett, Head of Autism Together’s Autism Training and Advisory Service, said: “As a specialist UK charity supporting autistic people, we’re pleased to be working with Dobbies in Woodbridge to help enhance their Christmas Grotto experience for visitors with autism and other sensory needs.

“Through this partnership, we’ll also be delivering autism awareness training for Santa and all his elves and helpers in time for the festive season.”

During their visit, people will be able to take a walk through a magical winter wonderland walkway, spotting festive characters along the way, before being greeted by Santa’s helpers.

Children will receive a gift from a special selection of toys, handpicked by Santa depending on their age.

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There is also the opportunity to get a snap with Santa and his elves, which can be purchased at the end of their visit.

Sarah Murray, Partnership and Events Manager at Dobbies, said: “Meeting Santa is a wonderful experience for all children and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible.

"Here at Dobbies, we love to see the excitement before and after attending Santa’s Grotto, which is guaranteed to spread Christmas Joy throughout the rest of our Woodbridge store.”

Tickets for the Santa experience are priced at £11.99 which includes a toy. 

Organisers have said that booking in advance is essential to avoid disappointment and tickets can be booked online.  

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