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My dad that went viral
When I tell people that my parents run a farm project, the usual response is, 'is it like a visitor centre '. That's when the conversation gets interesting, because really, how do you describe a place like CaenhillCC? The little piece of English countryside that brings rural learning to its local community, supports young and vulnerable people, takes in animals in need and this time last year went viral.
That's right, on top of all of the amazing work I get to tell people that my parents do, I get to say my dad went viral. That this time last year an amazing journalist found the videos of my dad letting his animals out of the barn each morning and now he's followed by thousands of people across the world through his social media accounts. All because he was told he should start a TikTok account and he'd gone on there and done something different.
Going viral certainly wasn't something that any of us were prepared for, but it was the project's chance to shine. Opportunities like this don't come around every day. The project had already been running for five years, finding ways to keep going, keep the animals fed and keep educating more children. This was now a chance for my parents to take all they had achieved to the next level and with a lot of hard work did just that.
My parents were on television, on the radio, in the newspaper and myself and my little boy did all we could to be their cheer squad. If I'm really, really honest with you, I felt really emotional watching, reading and listening to all the coverage that followed because while it was a nice story to hear while people across the world ate their lunch, sat on the train, or wherever they were, I knew it was so much more. It was years of hard work, hopes and dreams coming true for my parents and I couldn't have been more proud.
One year on from going viral and the publicity that it brought it honestly feels like nothing and everything changed. That's because, at the heart of it all, everything is just as it was before, my parents still work hard, the farm still supports and educates children and I'm still helping where I can. Though now the farm is far more than it was before, its supporting and educating people across the world, its entertainment shared between friends and family and a place where the core team get to be more creative than ever.
With the support of friend and local artist Caroline Le Bourgeois my dad's brought even more magic of the farm to life and inspired people with his ideas and positivity. My mum has been able to help make some of our farm dreams a reality through funding. While Caroline has been able to capture the character of the farm through her art and find a passion for vlogging.
Where do me and my little boy fit into this all? Well, we're honoured to be part of the team too. I couldn't just sit back and watch my dad wade through the comments, the messages and requests, so I volunteered my services. Now I wake up every morning and help answer questions on the rush hour live when I wake up in time, plan in your shout outs while my little boy drifts off to sleep and share my passion of photographing the beautiful farm animals through my Twitter (@CaenhillCC_xtra) and Instagram (@CaenhillCC_animalphotos) accounts.
It might have made life busy, I might have forgotten what it's like to completely switch off and I might be just a volunteer but I haven't looked back because every morning when I watch rush hour, I know I am truly lucky to be a part of something so special and be included as part of a team. That although I don't always know where I fit in, the farm has given me a place to be me and people across the world appreciate me for just that. Though most importantly, the farm has given my little man a place to grow, learn and enjoy, he's going to grow with some amazing life skills thanks to the guidance he gets from everyone at the farm.
If the farm didn't go viral when it did, I honestly don't know where we would be today. Whether we'd have the funding and the drive to keep the farm going and the opportunity to share the farm with so many. So, to Rachel at Mashable, the farms dedicated supporters and Patreons and everyone who's been on this amazing journey, thank you. I'm honoured you believe in my dad's vision, my parents hard work and us as a team. We wouldn't be here without you and your kindness. Let's see where the next year takes us.
Kara, I cried reading this all the way through. What an adventure!! I’m so happy to be a small part of it. Your family is amazing!!