A HORSE sanctuary has been praised for going ‘above and beyond’ to help a boy - projected not to live past two - to celebrate his 12th birthday.

Barney Gardner was ‘thrilled’ after his parents made the four-hour trip from their home in Worcestershire to The Friesian Experience in Cartmel to carry out his dream of staying overnight with horses.

The 12-year-old was diagnosed with the rare life-limiting condition lissencephaly at six months old, which leads to significant development delays varying from child to child.

Parents Andy and Beverley were told their son would not live past two-years-old – and have treated every birthday since as a ‘huge milestone’.

“We were told Barney wouldn’t live past two-years-old so every day is a milestone for us,” Mrs Gardner, a supply teaching assistant at a special needs school, said.

“We always try and celebrate his birthday in a big way somehow.

“During lockdown, my friend sent me a link to The Friesian Experience in Cartmel and said Barney would love this.

“We booked it as soon as we could and spoke to Tracy at the sanctuary about Barney’s needs.”

The Friesian Experience, situated in the rolling Cartmel countryside, is an outdoor horse centre which concentrates on special experiences for a couple or a small group of friends.

The sanctuary, which was set up in 2018 by Tracy Alexander, offers an array of experiences including overnight stays with horses for people living with an illness or disability.

“I spoke to Tracy about Barney’s needs and said we wanted to get him on the top bunk in the stables to interact with the horses,” Mrs Gardner said.

“When we got there, Barney was so unbelievably excited – he loves horses, his whole bedroom is horse-themed.

“It was emotional for us to see Barney so happy. Normally he gets tired very easily but he wanted to stay up late to interact with the horses. He loved every second of it.

“He would’ve stayed up all night if he could. He didn’t want it to end.”

Mrs Gardner, who is also a foster carer with her husband, said the sanctuary went ‘above and beyond’ to cater for Barney’s needs.

“It was such a unique, incredible experience – we’d recommend it to anyone,” the 43-year-old said.

“The sanctuary was so accommodating. They wanted to do all they could for Barney. And the horses were so gentle too.

“They rested on his shoulder – you felt as if they had an instinct.

“When we drove home, Barney was so animated, he kept giggling whenever I’d bring up the experience and show him photos.

"It's a really special memory that we'll never forget."