Archive for News

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!

logo logo-dark

Celebrating Barnstondale and our supporters

Barnstondale shows gratitude to valued supporters with celebration event

Honoured guests Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead and the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral, Councillor and Mrs Hackett, joined other valued friends, patrons and supporters last week (Friday 24 February) for a special event at Barnstondale, held in appreciation to them for their continued support.

George giving a tour of the centre to our visitors.

George giving a tour of the centre to our visitors.

George giving a tour of the centre to our visitors. As part of the celebration, guests had the opportunity to tour the centre to see key improvements that had been made in the last 18 months and to watch children enjoying the activities on offer. Centre manager George Jones told guests his future plans for Barnstondale – and its next fundraising focus – the Target Hub.

Sir John Murphy, giving his entertaining talk

Sir John Murphy, giving his entertaining talk

Guests were also treated to an entertaining talk by Sir Jon Murphy, the recently-retired Chief Constable of Merseyside, who recounted experiences from an expansive and interesting career spanning over 40 years as a serving police officer.


Some of the children, getting their awards

Some of the children, getting their awards

The official proceedings were followed by a buffet lunch and then the children were presented with achievement certificates.

Commented George Jones, centre manager: “Our supporters are so important to us and we were keen to take the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to them. I always think it’s so much easier to show people what you have done than try to explain it. When visitors leave Barnstondale they have a real sense of what we are trying to achieve and the difference we can make to the children who visit us.


our-next-target“Our latest fundraising endeavour, the Target Hub, is the next key investment for the centre. To have a purpose built, all-weather, inclusive environment for all our different target activities will offer real benefits to our children – especially with the climate on the Wirral!”

The new Barnstondale newsletter

newsletter-10Barnie Owl’s busy band of newshounds have been hard at work digging up all sorts of interesting goings-on at Barnstondale over the past few months – and now they’re all together in the latest version of our newsletter for you to read!

With interesting tales about what’s been happening – and a peek at what we’ve got planned in the months ahead – the Barnstondale Newsletter is a your best quick one-stop read for hearing all of Barnie Owl’s tales.

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.

The new Barnstondale video premiere!

We’re very excited to show you all our new video – all about Barnstondale in 5 minutes!

A big thank you to our friends at Soup Creative who put together this great production for us.

We hope you enjoy seeing and hearing what Barnstondale is all about – and please share the video with your friends, the more people who know about Barnstondale the better!

Summer camp group stars in our new video

North West Summer Camp, organised by The Churches of God, celebrated 25 years of holidaying at Barnstondale in the heart of the Wirral by being the stars of the centre’s new promotional video. The group enjoyed a jam-packed stay at Barnstondale this August, but with some added extras as a film crew was on site to capture the fun.

North West Summer Camp has been coming to Barnstondale since 1991 with its array of facilities first attracting them to the site, and the fun and friendly environment bringing them back year-on-year. So to celebrate the group’s 25th year returning to the centre, the children and adults from the camp went in front of the camera and showed off everything Barnstondale has to offer by enjoying an extra full day of activities, including rock climbing, archery and rifle shooting.

Barnstondale manager, George Jones was thrilled with the outcome, saying: “We always have a great week with North West Summer Camp and there was really no better group to help us show off the facilities and the great times that our visitors have here at Barnstondale. We hope that the video demonstrates just why groups keep coming back year after year.”

Hayley Woods, one of the leaders from North West Summer Camp spoke of her admiration for Barnstondale: “Every year we bring on average 90 people to stay here for a week, including about 60 children. Every single person leaves having had a great time and itching to come back the following year. The chance to be a part of Barnstondale’s new promotional video was really the icing on the cake for us. We loved being a part of something so important for an organisation that we truly love.”

Keep an eye out for North West Summer Camp’s starring role in our new promotional film coming this Autumn.

Cleaning up with donation from building society’s charitable foundation

Barstondale has been presented with a cheque for over £2000 from Skipton Building Society’s Charitable Foundation to help upgrade its shower facilities, which are used by visiting children.

Heidi Hughes, Business Development Manager at Barnstondale, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous donation from Skipton’s Charitable Foundation. We are in the process of improving our shower facilities at Barnstondale and these will be used by both able bodied and disabled children.

“More than 4,000 children visit each year and many of these are from disadvantaged areas of the country.”

Jo Clarke, Skipton’s Regional Manager, said: “Our Charitable Foundation donates around £150,000 to charities across the country and we are plesased to be able to help Barnstondale as its bids to improve facilities for its young visitors.”

Barnstondale scores a winner at Anfield

Thanks to the ongoing support from Vauxhall Motors, we nominated a local football team to receive training at the famous Anfield Academy of Football.

Ellesmere Port-based Vauxhall Motors has been a long-standing supporter of Barnstondale. The company has provided new vehicles for the charity and staff have given up their free time to carry out volunteer work on-site over the last six years. Vauxhall is also a sponsor of Liverpool Football Club and as part of its sponsorship, it had the opportunity to send a youth team for one day’s training at the Anfield Academy of Football. Knowing Barnstondale’s close links with many of the local football teams, Vauxhall gave them the chance to choose the team to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

11 players from Heswall Under-11s were selected to receive a full day of first-class coaching from the staff on the AstroTurf pitches at Liverpool FC’s training ground, as well as touring the facility and seeing where Liverpool’s Under-21 team train.

George Jones, Barnstondale’s centre manager commented: “The boys had an amazing day and came away tired but inspired. They all received attendance medals and a new football. Huge thanks to Vauxhall Motors for its continued support and for giving us the opportunity to give this team a taste of Premiership training.”

Commented Cherie Denton, Community Relations Coordinator at Vauxhall Motors: “It’s important for us to develop and support close links within our local community. We have been working with Barnstondale for some time now and the centre does a great job in encouraging sporting and outdoor activities. We were delighted to be able to benefit one of the groups that regularly uses Barnstondale’s facilities, through our wider sponsorship with Liverpool FC.”

Fantastic funding!

barnie-ipadBarnstondale has enjoyed an excellent fundraising boost at the beginning of 2016, with over £13,000 being donated so far. The centre has had several donors answer its call for funds and is able to implement some of its latest innovations and improvements.

Among the roll call of donors was the Montse Benítez Foundation with a donation of £5,800 and the Morrisons Foundation, which has donated £1,135. Other donations have come from Liverpool-based charitable organisation the Johnson Foundation (£2,500), The Rank Foundation, a grant-giving charitable trust (£750) and the Medicash Charitable Trust (£2,878.80).

The donated funds will be used towards a new wet room, the installation of two defibrillators to be used on site and a new changing table for Meadow Cabin, one of the centre’s specialised accommodation facilities. As well as acknowledging the importance of outdoor activities and physical health, Barnstondale also recognises the role technology plays in young peoples’ lives today. The centre will also be using the funds towards the installation of Wi-Fi across its site and the purchase of seven iPads. Visitors will be able to use these to take photos of their experiences and to research and record information. Barnstondale is also continuing to raise funds to improve its sports facilities, by purchasing new sports equipment and refurbishing the multi-use games area (MUGA).

George Jones, Barnstondale’s manager commented: “The donors’ combined generosity has meant that we have now reached our targets to enable us to buy the new changing table, both defibrillators and have sufficient funds to purchase all seven iPads.

“We are always raising funds and our next aims are to improve our welcome area – with better gate security and an intercom, carpark lighting, marked walk-ways and resurfacing. – We have 9 wet rooms that urgently need upgrading to make them suitable for our disabled visitors. This includes the installation of appropriate showers, the cost of which is £2,000 per bathroom. We’d like any local people or organisations, such as golf clubs, to consider us as their charity of choice to offer support. We’re very grateful to everyone who has made the start of 2016 such an encouraging one for the centre.”

Vauxhall staff clear the road

vauxhall-volunteersVauxhall Network Q staff from all across the country visited us recently to volunteer in helping establish the charity’s new Wild Wood Challenge. The 21-strong team spent a day working alongside the our own staff to clear space for ‘villages’ to be built in its wooded area.

Once introduced, participants in this challenge will have the opportunity to spend a day in the woods, taking on a range of fun activities such as building shelters, lighting fires and learning new skills in a natural setting. We’ve previously run pilots of its Wild Wood Challenge but were short of space to accommodate school groups who regularly enjoy its other activities. The support of Vauxhall Network Q’s team was a huge help as it was expected that clearing the space would take a considerable amount of time and place a strain on the charity’s resources. Barnstondale now has three sites available which are particularly suited to taking groups of children.

Vauxhall Network Q has a strong commitment to supporting the local community and as part of its 25th birthday celebrations the team decided to support Barnstondale, which its Ellesmere Port branch has worked with in the past. As well as championing its company values, the staff saw the day as an opportunity for a useful team building exercise. The team certainly proved its ability to overcome many obstacles, especially given the initial doubt which many felt towards being able to clear the entire space in a single day. Staff members even had time spare to try their hand at rifle shooting, climbing and abseiling before returning to their work locations across the country.

Commented Derek Wilson, Operations Manager for Vauxhall Network Q division: “We wanted to support Barnstondale because we heard about their work in bringing young people together from a variety of different backgrounds – providing opportunities for everybody to learn, grow and personally develop. A big part of our ethos is about supporting champions of the community such as this charity and we had a great time doing it. We would recommend people pay a visit and get involved themselves if they haven’t already been.”

Commented George Jones, centre manager at Barnstondale: “The effort from the Vauxhall team was amazing, they worked so hard to create the clear spaces we need for our Wild Wood Challenge. They were great company and we enjoyed showing them some of our other activities. We really do appreciate all their help. We warmly welcome any future efforts from other businesses whose staff would like to get hands on in supporting us”