AN INDOOR play area has opened in South Lakeland following a three-year-long project started by a Kendal couple.

Mum-of-two and veterinary surgeon Mhairi Helme, along with husband John, succeeded in her mission to create a community centre in the town. The pair believe Kendal was previously missing a "safe and fun" place for children and families.

They therefore formed the charity Outside-In Cumbria, and have spent the past few years raising more than £120,000 to make their dreams a reality.

Based on Beezon Road, Kendal, Outside-In has provided the town with an indoor play area as well as ‘role-play’ facilities which include a replica of Kendal High Street - complete with child-sized local businesses. Parents from local autism support groups were closely involved in the design of the centre.

Outside-In will also offer a range of stimulating, educational activities aimed at young children.

The building has ‘changing places’ washroom facilities, which include specialist equipment for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and those with physical conditions whose needs are not met by regular accessible toilets.

Mrs Helme said: “It’s been a dream come true. We’ve worked so hard over the past three years to make this possible and we can’t wait to greet more families and children here at Outside-In.

“We provide tea, coffee and cakes and our chef will soon be able to launch a hot food menu.

“We wanted to create somewhere friendly, supportive and inclusive for all children.

“This couldn’t have happened without the support of hundreds of parents and families as well as the charities who will also benefit from this project.”

Mrs Helme added that events would soon be held at Outside-In featuring arts, crafts and other educational activities for children to take part in.

The play centre is open every day except Monday.