On 7th June 2024, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens (CWP) joined over 200 zoos and aquariums across 11 different countries in hosting a very special invitation-only evening for seriously ill children and their families. 

This year saw CWP open its doors after hours for its ninth 'Dreamnight at the Zoo', where 80 special guests and their families from across Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire were invited to attend – including ten of our own ROSY (Respite for Oxfordshire's Sick Youngsters)* families.

During this unique event, our ROSY visitors experienced a rare opportunity to see the animals without the crowds and they even met some of the Park’s residents up close – enjoying encounters with animals such as the lemurs, giraffes and penguins.

“Thanks so much for the tickets! Mohammed’s favourite part was when he was feeding the giraffe. The event wasn’t too busy which was nice. The children really enjoyed their time at the Cotswold Wildlife Park.”

During the evening, Safina was able to capture a special moment for us when her son, Mohammed, visited the giraffe house.

Staff from the nearby Cotswold Falconry Centre took along some of their beautiful birds of prey to join in the evening’s activities and the fun continued with a range of games to play, herbs to plant, train rides to take around the Park and refreshments. Live music was also provided by the local Swindon Highworth Silver Band.

Speaking about the event afterwards, Jacob’s mum Cat told us what Dreamnight had meant to their family:

“We were delighted to be invited by ROSY to Dreamnight at the Zoo. Jacob loves animals but finds large crowds difficult to cope with, so a chance to wander around Cotswold Wildlife Park after hours was really wonderful. He met some animals up close, and all of the staff were so friendly and kind. Such a generous event to put on, it makes really special memories.”

Oxford Health Charity would like to say a HUGE thank you to Helen Hitchman (CWP Education and Activities Manager) and her team at the Park for organising the event and for extending an invitation to our ROSY families. All those who attended had a truly wonderful evening and the children came away from this amazing experience with some very special memories.

*Our ROSY appeal is dedicated to delivering additional respite care to Oxfordshire's terminally ill, acute and chronically sick children, who are supported in their own homes. 

For parents and families, looking after their loved ones is a relentless 24/7 cycle of care. This is where Oxford Health Charity’s support through our ROSY appeal comes in. Our appeal funds a team of caregivers (nurses, health care assistants, physiotherapists etc.) who provide direct care to the children. 

All ROSY activities enhance statutory NHS care and enable more children and their families to receive important support and respite care. Find out more Respite for Oxfordshire's Sick Youngsters (ROSY)

Our ROSY appeal relies entirely on the fundraising support and generosity of the public. If you would like to help us continue to provide this vital respite service, please visit our ROSY donation page to donate online. And, if you are a UK taxpayer, you can help even us further by registering for Gift Aid which will enable us to claim an additional 25% at no extra cost to you!