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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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!