A GROUP which strives to improve the lives of women and girls has hailed the success of a project which brought together a special school and an alpaca farm.

Soroptimist International (SI) Durham funded the initiative to take children from Bishop Auckland’s Evergreen Primary School, a special school for youngsters aged two to 11, to Prince Bishop Alpacas, at Headlam, near Darlington.

Soroptimists and pupils visited the farm together on several occasions.

Immediate past president Judith Stirk, who set up the project, club members and farm owner and former teacher Carole Burn noted the benefits of the visits for the children.

A spokesperson for SI Durham said: “Children who would not normally talk about what had happened the previous day, would talk to their teachers about the alpacas and how much they had enjoyed their visits months afterwards.

“One of the visits was especially memorable when the children saw a baby alpaca being born and that alpaca was named Evergreen after their school.”

An alpaca was also adopted by the Soroptimists and named Sid, after SI Durham.

An end of term celebration to mark the success of the project was held last month.

Each child who had visited the farm received a hand-knitted alpaca and a copy of Ms Burn’s children’s book Horace - a story about an alpaca.

The spokesperson added: “Everyone involved with the project hopes that funds can be made available to continue these visits in the new school year as they have a clear and positive benefit for the children.”