Children with autism benefit from owl therapy

RUTH HICKLING OF THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT CENTRE WITH HER FOUR WEEK OLD SNOWY OWL CHICKS.(STORY NEWSLINE/PIC DUNCAN BROWN)
RUTH HICKLING OF THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT CENTRE WITH HER FOUR WEEK OLD SNOWY OWL CHICKS.(STORY NEWSLINE/PIC DUNCAN BROWN)

A therapy programme for young people with autism in the North East has been boosted by the arrival of a brood of snowy owl chicks.

Based near Maud, the Owl and the Pussycat Centre was set up nearly five years ago and is famous for being the home of the Harry Potter film star owls Hedwig and Errol.

The four-week-old chicks have not yet been named and owner Ruth Hickling has said the children who use the centre will have an opportunity to choose names for the birds.

She added that birds - particularly owls - can stimulate remarkably strong bonds with young people.

The animal haven is aimed at helping young people, often with profound physical and learning needs, as a form of therapy.

The centre is going from strength to strength with the arrival of the new chicks as well as charity status which will be a big funding boost for Mrs Hickling.

A former social worker, Mrs Hickling set up the Owl and the Pussycat with a £90,000 payout from Aberdeenshire Council following a much-publicised unfair dismissal tribunal.

The project’s new charity status is set to be celebrated with a launch party at the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh on Saturday, August 9.

The Owl and the Pussycat was recently visited by Fraserburgh’s Children 1st project as part of the 130th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The team hosted a party for local young people.