The Queen's daughter-in-law got on her hands and knees to play toy cars on a visit to Oxfordshire.

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, spent more than an hour playing with children and chatting to parents at the Footsteps Centre in Dorchester-on-Thames.

The facility near Wallingford provides intensive physiotherapy for 200 disabled children every year.

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Its dedicated charity the Footsteps Foundation, meanwhile, financially supports families who would not usually be able to afford the treatment and families from across the UK come to the centre so their children can get bespoke, specialist therapy.

The Countess made a visit to the centre last week when she learnt more about children's care and treatment.

She said she enjoyed her visit and stayed longer then she was supposed to while chatting with the families and playing with the children for ten minutes at a time.

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The countess, who is married to the Queen's youngest son Edward, even got on the floor to play cars with two-year-old Matthew Johnston.

Matthew's father David said: “Matthew absolutely loved his time with the Countess of Wessex. She was so lovely with him and spent lots of time joining in with his car games. He asked her when she was coming back!”

Maggie Davies from the Footsteps Foundation said she and the staff were delighted with how down-to-earth the Countess had been.

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Pictures by Jay Anderson

She said: "She ignored the whole entourage and just got chatting with the families and children."

The Footsteps Foundation centre has a variety of unique methods of physiotherapy for babies and children up to the age of 18.

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The team at the centre provide care for a number of conditions including cerebral palsy, neurological disorders, genetic disorders, epilepsy, stroke, meningitis, global delays and undiagnosed conditions.

The Footsteps therapy programme uses a combination of traditional floor mat exercises and the use of a newer specialist piece of physiotherapy equipment called the ‘Spider’ which is not found anywhere else in the UK.

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The Spider gets its name because it looks similar to a spider’s web.

It has a series of elastic ropes attached to a frame creating a web.

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This holds the children in their perfect postural position so they can then practice standing positions, crawling, kneeling and also reaching and holding.

The Footsteps Foundation also uses the mat for traditional exercises such as ball work and also using trampolines and ladders to facilitate the physiotherapy.

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The therapy programme helps improve gross motor, fine motor and cognitive development.

Every year Footsteps must raise £250,000 to continue the specialist and valuable treatment which is life changing for many disabled children, and the charity relies on donations.

To make a donation visit