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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.