Author Archive for Barnstondale Webmaster

Home comforts make all the difference

IMG-20190711-WA0000Barnstondale can rest easier, thanks to a kind donation; Medical design company SEERS Medical has donated a Paediatric Care Bed to us worth approximately £4000. The electric profiling bed is designed specifically for children with additional needs, and will be installed in Meadow Cabin, our purpose-built, fully accessible facility at the centre.

Barnstondale already had one profiling bed in Meadow Cabin, but staff are often asked if they have more, which would enable more visitors requiring such care to access the centre. A paediatric care bed is an electric adjustable bed used in hospitals or to enable care at home; it improves the circulation of blood around the body and increases respiratory functions.

SEERS is the UK’s leading manufacturer of a range of medical equipment and furniture. The company heard about Barnstondale via a physio who had visited the residential activity centre as a guest. Realising they could be of help, the team at SEERS offered to provide another profiling bed. On 11th July, SEERS staff visited the centre to deliver it. Meadow Cabin has been specially designed to accommodate users with additional needs. It is kitted out with a range of facilities, including hoists, adjustable beds, changing tables, sensory & soft play areas, and it is entirely wheelchair accessible.

Heidi Hughes, business director at Barnstondale, commented, “Making our centre as accessible and as inclusive as possible has always been one of our primary aims. People often forget that not everyone can easily sleep in the same type of bed and a profile bed can make a huge difference to the comfort of someone with mobility or sensory issues. This kind donation from SEERS will allow us to accommodate more guests with additional needs and will give them the ability to rest easy while they enjoy their stay at our centre”.


Rafa right on target

rafa1 We were delighted to be able to welcome Premier League legend Rafa Benitez to Barnstondale for a visit recently. Rafa and Montse Benitez have long been friends and supporters of Barnstondale and their help has been invaluable in assisting us towards many funding goals for projects.

The Newcastle United manager made his home in Wirral during his famous tenure as Liverpool manager. The affection in which he is held by the fans led to him being able to make a donation to the centre for £1850, as all the money was raised by charging for Rafa’s signature on Liverpool memorabilia. Its a huge help for us and nice for the fans to know that the money goes directly to helping young people.

Rafa has a particular interest in helping children with additional needs, especially autism, and so we will use the funds to enable children with additional needs to have a life changing experience at Barnstondale.

Previously, we’ve used donations from Rafa to purchase and equip the trailer that enables children with additional needs to have the full Barnstondale experience and visit our 12 acres of woodland, so it was great to see that Rafa wanted to take a ride too!


Rafa even took the time to visit and try out our fantastic new target hub, proving himself to as handy with hitting a target with a rifle as he is on the pitch with a football!


We’re hugely grateful to Rafa and Montse Benitez for their continued support of Barnstondale. They really help to make a huge difference to young people of all abilities who visit the centre. If you’d like to follow their example and make a difference to the lives of young people who visit Barnstondale then please get in touch with the Barnstondale office on 0151 648 1412 or


Inclusive activity day gets musical

activity-day-2019We’ve been running inclusive activity days at Barnstondale for quite a few years now and they’re very popular indeed with children and parents alike. The mix of outdoor activities, presided over by our trained and experience staff, along with indoor creative activities have something for all children of all abilities.

We will be holding another Inclusive Activity Day on Wednesday 20th February, between 9.30am and 3.00pm, which will finish with a mini-concert by children, assisted by musicians from Live Music Now.

The cost per child with be £16 for the day, including lunch. To make a booking for the limited places available, call Stacey Addison on 0151 666 4539 or email her at It’ll be sure to be a memorable and enjoyable day for all children of all abilities.

Barnstondale bags top supermarket charity prize


Back in April, Barnstondale Activity Centre was included as one of the candidates in Tesco’s Bags of Help Grant Scheme. Three local charities or organisations were nominated for a regional competition, with voting in Tesco stores remaining open throughout May and June. Following a count of the votes, it was announced that the Barnstondale has secured the top prize of £4,000.

Tesco Bags of Help is an exciting new initiative that helps communities and good causes throughout the UK. It’s the supermarket’s local community grant scheme, with money raised by the sale of in-store carrier bags being used to fund thousands of local projects UK-wide. Barnstondale Activity Centres was included in the public poll and shoppers were able to vote for their favourite project every time they shopped in participating Tesco stores. The other local beneficiaries were Pensby Library and Friends of Hadlow Road Station, who each received £1000.

Heidi Hughes, Business Development Director at Barnstondale, commented: “We were pleased to be included in the scheme, as we knew that simply by being on Tesco’s list of candidates we would receive something. But to have come out on top and attained the highest award is fantastic. To keep a centre like ours going takes a great deal of effort and funding. The grant money will go towards a new minibus, making a significant difference to the centre and to the many local children who visit each year.”

Lindsay Kennedy, Community Champion at Tesco Heswall, added: “I think the inaugural Bags of Help scheme is working well on two fronts. On the one hand, the scheme is a great way to raise awareness for local charities at ground level. Even if shoppers only see the competition is running, without taking part, they’d see the name Barnstondale and what the centre does. In addition to that, people who do take part know they are helping towards good causes within their own communities. Congratulations to everyone at Barnstondale!”

Going places, thanks to Lookers Vauxhall

Barnstondale visitors will be going places this year, thanks to Lookers Vauxhall

P1030391Visitors to Barnstondale are set for some exciting adventures this year, thanks to a fabulous Christmas present from Lookers Vauxhall Birkenhead. The company has presented the charity with the use of a 17 seater minibus free of charge throughout 2018. We’re hoping and planning to raise funds to buy the nearly new vehicle at the end of the year.

Barnstondale welcomes day visitors and residential guests to enjoy its many facilities and we’re an inclusive centre, which means we provides adventures and outdoor activities for all ages and abilities. Use of the Lookers minibus will enable us to take visitors further afield to take part in adventurous activities such as kayaking.

Martin Benbow, General Manager at Lookers Birkenhead, said, “We were first made aware of the fantastic work Barnstondale does through Network Q’s ongoing support for the charity. When we heard Barnstondale would find the use of a new vehicle useful we were keen to help. We are delighted to provide this minibus, which has just 200 miles on the clock, to support the charity’s adventures.”

Heidi Hughes, Business Development Director at Barnstondale, said, “We are so grateful to Lookers for providing us with this minibus. Not only do we get to use the minibus free-of-charge for 12 months, but we also get to buy it for a fraction of its list price of £34,000 at the end of the year. We will be starting fundraising to buy the vehicle straightaway, so anyone interested in helping us reach our target of £13,000 or finding out more about the work Barnstondale does, should give us a call on 0151 648 1412

Barnstondale benefits from Christmas Post

Barnstondale nominated to benefit from Scouts and Guides’ Christmas Mail Delivery

Christmas has come early for Barnstondale, as it has been nominated to benefit from this year’s The Wirral Scout & Guide Charity Post.

Wirral Scout Post operates with its own stamps, which cost 30 pence each, and can be purchased from a variety of outlets. It delivers Christmas cards across the region in the lead-up to the festive period. Donations made to the charity for this service are then divided among local organisations and this year Barnstondale has been chosen as one of the beneficiaries.

The Wirral Scout & Guide Charity Post was founded in 1982 to deliver Christmas cards across the Wirral. It is a co-operative venture between 46 Scout Groups, five Guide Districts and three Ranger Units, which sell stamps to raise money each year and then deliver cards along the peninsula. Stamps have been on sale since 18 November and the last day of posting will be midday on 13 December 2017.

This year, a distinctive Red Post box symbol will be displayed in the windows of participating shops. Wherever you see the red post box symbol, stamps will be on sale and the Scouts’ postal service will be in operation (though some outlets will still be displaying the older, original green bin logo too). The Wirral Scout Post is completely separate to Royal Mail, so mailers must ensure they post cards at participating shops. The service is run entirely by volunteers, who give up their time to make The Wirral Scout Post a success. For deliveries, the Wirral is subdivided into five areas, which are West Wirral, Wallasey, Bebington and Bromborough, Birkenhead and Neston. The delivery area doesn’t extend to Great Sutton or Ellesmere Port.

Heidi Hughes, Business Development Director at Barnstondale, thinks the project is a great idea: “We recognise the hard work put in by the young people involved in this project and are delighted to benefit from this initiative. As a charity ourselves, we know how rewarding it is helping others and
thank Wirral Scouts & Guides Charity Post for funding and carrying out this festive project.”

Newsletter #11 is here!

newsletter-11 Barnie Owl has been busy getting his friends to put together another newsletter about all the goings-on at Barnstondale, and now its available for you to download and read.

With news about our supporters and volunteers, some great new improvements to the centre and the latest on our future plans, this is a newsletter packed with interesting info.

Click here to download the latest newsletter as a PDF, or if you’d like to join our mailing list for future copies then contact us.

They came from the land down under

australia-rotary Recently we played host to a group of five educational professional visitors from Australia, organised by Rotary Club. We loved showing them around the site and they had a lot of great things to say about their experience. Don’t take our word for it though, here’s what they had to say about Barnstondale…

On our arrival, we stopped and admired the lush green lawns, manicured gardens and unique trees surrounding the buildings. Squirrels, fallen apples and a variety of unique flora set the scene, adding to the Centre’s country charm.

The team were introduced to the Manager, George by Rotarian John, who himself was an active contributor, investing many hours of voluntary time to enhancing the facilities and activities. George spoke fondly of the Centre’s rich history and captured the development that has gradually occurred over time. The Centre is a charitable trust aimed at enriching the lives of young people by providing high quality accommodation and an enviable range of modern sport facilities. George has established a productive partnership with local care services and organisations to provide individuals to spend time away from their own home, try out new activities and make new friends. Flexible breaks enable respite users to experience new and exciting opportunities in a new environment, whilst providing s break for careers. Families are able to accompany their relative with a disability.

An extensive tour commenced of the grounds, led by George, sharing his great passion for inclusion and access by all. George’s background encompassed skills in the building industry, which has positioned himself well in designing, developing and delivering Centre that provides purpose built access. George shared his clear vision for the Centre, which has come into fruition in partnership with the local authority and other funding sources.

Log cabins featured heavily, providing a range of accommodation options for individuals, groups and families. Suites and dormitories featured ensuite bathrooms, bunks and single beds. The team were amazed by the the foresight and innovation in the design and technology used to provide assistance for visitors with mobility requirements. Inside one particular room, a multi faceted ceiling hoist provided access from the bed to the adjoining ensuite by a clever mechanism that could be manoeuvred for a variety of purposes. In the same room, an adjustable bed was electronically raised and inclined to meet the individual needs of the room’s occupant. Ensuite featured sensor touch showers, change tables, hoists (both mobile and fixed), safety mechanisms on door arches and wall mounted handles. A wheelchair accessible lift provided access to the upstairs areas.

The log cabins also featured flexible seating areas, kitchen facilities, an upstairs group room, accessible by lift, ensuite bathrooms and comfortable, flexible sleeping dormitories and rooms. Large groups can be catered for at any one time, in the cabin style rooms, inspired by words from nature. Activities can be facilitated in the upstairs space despite weather conditions.

Meals are served in the well equipped dining hall with a well stocked Tuckshop. Events and indoor activities (eg; movie nights and discos) are held in an adjoining activity room. Close by in a newly constructed timber cabin, was a sensory room, with an adjoining area separated by glass. The sensory room featured coloured moving lights, tactile displays, movable bean bags, padded cushioning, lit up water features, large vinyl covered construction blocks and a larger than life Connect Four game.

Outdoor pursuits encourage of problem work and sports. A large, colourful outdoor multipurpose court was well positioned and viewed from many perspectives with seating, targets, outdoor ping pong tables and basketball courts. On the team’s journey to the indoor sports hall, we passed and adventure playground, designed to develop teamwork, balance and dexterity. Along the pathway to the Sports Hall, we took in the spectacular natural outlook, with waterways and flora. The Sports Hall was flexible in its use, catering for multiple activities, with overhead heating, lighting and a rock climbing wall at one end, allowing the adventure never to end despite the weather. The Sports Hall is adaptable to cater for many team building games and sports, with badminton and indoor parachute games being popular past times.

The facility’s sensory garden was well constructed and a took us on an interactive journey. Raised herb gardens appealed to our curiosity, sense of touch and smell. The garden was purposefully designed for visitors with all needs. The trail winded from a quiet seating space to the main pathway, offering a range of experiences along the way, such as brightly coloured and friendly characters, wobbly bridges, interactive elements, including musical instruments, mirrors and games. The trail is wheelchair accessible and highly stimulating. A open fire out, surrounded by log seating was a well used and popular space for visitors, particular on dark evenings.

The team set out on an adventure led by George and John on the Centre’s Kubota and trailer, further exploring the outer areas of the grounds. The winding road created by John and his team of volunteers, enabled access for all, including visitors with limited mobility or wheelchair restrictions. The team actively explored the forest and admired the work undertaken to ensure easy access. The tour led to an open field and fenced off space that featured miniature pigs, llamas and goats. George pointed out badger holes and other unique featured to this area. The excitement of a muddy walk back to the vehicle, tested our endurance and brought with it laughter and banter, paralleled to young visitors.

The Team enjoyed a hearty lunch, taking respite from the bitterly cold winds inside the Dining Hall. George’s wife Hazel and her team provided a crusty, steak pie, mushy peas, chips and gravy, followed by apple crumble and warm custard. Over lunch, the Team admired the nearby squirrels frolicking across the fence and trees.

George’s passion and commitment to this incredible local facility was highly evident throughout, with the team seeing, feeling and hearing his passion. John’s incredible contribution was acknowledged and admired, with future developments in the pipeline.

Barnstondale gets a lift

Barnstondale gets a lift, with a little help from our friends


Two teams of volunteers from Vauxhall Network Q and local Vauxhall retailer, Lookers have turned out to lend a hand at Barnstondale, by pitching in with a tidy-up of the site. Vauxhall has also loaned us a new Zafira Tourer! The volunteers visited last month (6 September), to kick start the winter work.

The 28 volunteers kindly worked their socks off to put up fence posts, paint timber fencing and clear the carpark of overgrowth and debris. Other tasks completed included clearing paths through the dale, laying pathways and pulling up weeds. It’s the time of year when gardeners the length and breadth of the country begin to think about winter and Barnstondale is no exception.

The Network Q team from Vauxhall has helped out at Barnstondale before, but this year they were joined by extra staff from Vauxhall Lookers’ divisional team. Lookers staff heard about Vauxhall’s contribution to Barnstondale and wanted to get involved too. By splitting up into smaller groups, the volunteers were able to tackle a wide range of tasks.

In addition to all their manual help, Vauxhall has delivered a seven-seat Zafira Tourer to the centre, which will be used to transport children, as well as for everyday tasks. This is the seventh car to be loaned to Barnstondale by Vauxhall since 2011, all have provided huge benefits to the centre.

Steve Eley, Franchise Director at Lookers Vauxhall, commented: “It was great being able to help last week. I certainly found it really enjoyable being able to support the effort Barnstondale makes to enhance the lives of the kids it supports. We’re happy to help in any way we can, as we can see the centre is making a real difference to its visitors, old and young.”

Commented Cherie Denton, Community Relations Officer at Vauxhall: “Our links to Barnstondale, year-on-year, are very important to us. It’s great for us to be able to have the opportunity to support local charities – not just by donating money, but by donating our time and even vehicles. This is our third year of helping out on-site at the centre and it’s usually hard graft for a day. But Barnstondale provides an inspirational environment for young people and we’re delighted that our efforts are appreciated.”

Commented Heidi Hughes, Business Director at Barnstondale: “15 acres of natural woodland and countryside doesn’t look after itself. We’re a relatively small team and as well as running the centre, the upkeep is a major undertaking in itself. The Vauxhall and Lookers teams’ help is fantastic, as it means we can take on bigger jobs and get more done in a day than we would normally. The Zafira is extremely useful too and a very welcome addition to the centre’s facilities.”

What’s new at Barnstondale for 2017

We’re not about to rest on our laurels here at Barnstondale. We’re always seeking to improve what we offer to our visitors – its why we ask for feedback from all our visiting groups and why each year we seek to upgrade, refurbish and add new features to our site.

We’re also a charity, so many new things at the centre are funded by external donations for which we are incredibly grateful! So, here’s a chance to show you some of the improvements at Barnstondale that you’ll see if you’re visiting us in 2017, as well as an opportunity to say thank you to some of our generous funders who made them happen!

new-archery-rangeOne of our most visible changes this year is to our archery range. Safety, security and comfort is improved with the addition of a new shelter for children taking part in the activity, along with a complete resurfacing and new safety netting. Archery is the same exciting challenge its always been, but now its even more enjoyable.




Anyone for (table) tennis?
Our indoor table tennis table was always popular with children, but who wants to be playing inside on a glorious spring or summer day? What if you could play table tennis outside on a specialist permanent outdoor table? Good, right? We agree – so now we have TWO of them!

outdoor-table-tennis-tableThe outdoor table tennis tables were both provided by fantastically generous donations from our supporters Peel Ports, Community Foundation for Merseyside and Wirral West Community Fund. A huge thank you to both Peel Ports and to all the people of Wirral West who voted for us to received funding in their latest round.




Second abseiling tower
The abseiling tower was an instant hit as soon as we opened it at Barnstondale a few years ago. We’ve now improved it even more for 2017, by giving it a complete refurbishment and adding a second full height abseiling tower alongside the climbing wall! This means more opportunities for our visitors to try out abseiling – with 2 towers it means more goes and less queuing for the children who just want one more go….

Wirral Block refurbishment
Wirral Block has always offered a low cost dormitory accommodation option to groups visiting Barnstondale, but for 2017 its now offering a greatly improved experience following an extensive internal and external refurbishment. Contact us if you want to find out more about what staying in Wirral Block can offer your group.

Still to come in 2017
Our Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) will be getting a full repainting in 2017 – we’re just waiting for the weather conditions to be right before we can begin! We’re very grateful to The Proven Family Trust, The Whinlatter Fund, Rank Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and The Robert Clutterbuck Charitable Trust for funding this work.

The very successful sensory trail is being expanded to make a complete loop from start to finish. More fun and exploration will soon be on offer!

Soon to be updated are the showers in Pine Cabin, to make them much more accessible. This way if groups of mixed abilities visit the centre then children don’t need to be split up and can experience the whole of Barnstondale with their friends, just as it should be. We have a lot of supporters to thank for making this happen: Bryan Lancaster Trust, Rycroft Childrens Fund, Skipton Building Society, The Boshier-Hinton Foundation, The Bruce Wake Charitable Trust, The Barbara Ward Children’s Foundation, the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund and the Co-op Local Community Fund. A huge thank you to all of them for making the Barnstondale experience even better for children with disabilities and their friends!

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