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Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 09:52 GMT
Sheepdog centre in tourism 'coup'
Children at ewephoria
The sheepdog centre has proved popular
One of Wales' smallest tourist attractions has pulled off a "David and Goliath" coup by earning a place in a guide to the UK's top 50 Easter destinations.

Ewe-phoria sheepdog centre in Corwen, north Wales, ranked higher than the popular Castell Coch near Cardiff and the Art of Star Wars museum in Edinburgh.

Sheep and sheepdog
Ewephoria is a working farm

Ewe-phoria featured at 38 in an Easter visitor guide by The Independent, which was topped by the Science Museum in London.

Wales' most popular destination was Big Pit in Blaenafon, which was placed third.

Other leading attractions in the guide include the phenomenally successful Eden Project in Cornwall and Snowdonia, north Wales.

Ewe-phoria was the brainchild of Aled Owen, an International Sheepdog Trials Champion and his wife Jano.

Mr Owen said the centre has a lot to offer.

"It isn't a museum, it's something alive - you see the sheep and everything we do here is something that goes on at farms round the country."

The centre has been open less than 12 months after the foot-and-mouth outbreak forced them to postpone the official opening.

Mr Owen said the virus outbreak had quite a desperate effect for the visitor centre.

"We did open in June but the public could not come and touch the animals because of the outbreak."

It's more creative playing and it's more educational for the children to be out and about with animals

Teleri Roberts, visitor

The closest confirmed case of the disease was 50 miles from the family farm but they still had restrictions.

"We couldn't move sheep or any animal freely, we had to have a permit to cross the road which is only five metres wide," Mr Owen said.

News that Ewe-phoria was selected among the top tourist attractions in the country did not surprise visitors.

Ewe-phoria fan Teleri Roberts said the centre is a great place for children.

"I'm a mother of three youngsters and there's plenty for them to do.

"It's more creative playing and it's more educational for the children to be out and about with animals."

Employment boost

Bethan Jones said the centre has more to offer than big fun fairs.

"It's a place where you can just relax and enjoy the country."

Jano Owen said she started thinking about the centre with her husband three years ago.

"My husband's the current sheepdog trials champion and we wanted to show people his ability to work with sheepdogs and give something back."

The new visitor attraction has also boosted employment in the area.

Mrs Owen said: "We've got four or five girls and a lad coming to work for us and it's an excellent opportunity for them to be able to come and work locally."

More news from north east Wales
See also:

27 Dec 01 | England
Sheepdogs return to work
28 Mar 01 | UK
The countryside needs you!
25 Jun 99 | Health
E. coli farm re-opens
20 Apr 01 | Business
Impact of farm disease 'slows'
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