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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


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.”

Animals make tracks to Barnstondale

P1000982Work has now begun on the second phase of our sensory trail project. Large animal statues and hand-crafted seats have already been purchased and will complete the experiential element of the trail. The project is estimated to cost around £23,000 once complete and is on-schedule to be opened in April 2015. Whilst fortunate that visitor fees cover our overhead costs, we rely heavily on donations and fundraising to pay for new projects and improvement work. Wirral Lions, Santander, Camelia Trust and Wirral Fund for Children with Special Needs are amongst the grant funders that have helped finance this specific project.

Commented George Jones, Barnstondale centre manager: “Staying in-line with the demands and needs of present day visitors is important to us, so we are always thinking of new ways to evolve and develop our facility. In recent years we have made major improvements to the woodland access ways, purchased our third log cabin and introduced rifle shooting to our list of activities, to name just a few changes.

“Now we are working on our first ever sensory trail, with future plans to introduce elements of this throughout our whole site. Whilst work continues on the landscaping, we’ve been busy purchasing some of the finishing touches. Our hope is that the colourful drawings on the totem pole, giraffe and ostriches will act as a stimulus to heighten engagement and interaction. We’ve also bought seats carved like turtles, hands and sheep and are planning on including mirrors, bongos and rain wheels along the trail too.

“Barnstondale is located within a beautiful rural setting and we wanted to take full advantage of this. We’re creating a space that is designed for everyone to enjoy and is a great way for visitors to connect with the immediate and surrounding environment.”

This is our first ever sensory trail and is designed to be accessible for children of all abilities. The first phase was creating a garden area, which features a sheltered decking, stone path, water feature and huge planters filled with perennial foliage plants, chosen specifically for their aromas and textures. Local tradesmen are now installing the sensory trail, which will include textures, surfaces, musical instruments, balance ramps and much more. Once complete, the trail will provide a relaxing and stimulating outdoor space for everyone to enjoy. The project began in April last year and forms part of our objective to provide a facility that is accessible for all.

Wirral Lions pave the way

Wirral Lions pave the way for new sensory garden trail at Barnstondale

P1000345Wirral Lions’ president, Dave Forshaw, alongside two other members, presented a cheque for £3,500 to Barnstondale Centre on Wednesday 10 September. The donation will help secure the required funds needed to install the charity’s first ever sensory garden trail, which will be accessible for children of all abilities.

Thanks to financial and volunteer support from Wirral Lions, Barnstondale has already begun developing an area of its’ garden. The area features a sheltered decking, stone path, water feature and huge planters filled with perennial foliage plants, chosen specifically for their aromas and textures. The next stage is to develop a sensory trail which will include textures, surfaces, musical instruments, balance ramps and much more. Barnstondale is currently raising funds for this, and hopes to have it completed by early next year. The garden project forms part of the charity’s objective to provide a facility that is accessible for people of all abilities.

Commented George Jones, Centre Manager at Barnstondale: “We are delighted with the support from Wirral Lions. Barnstondale puts inclusivity, and the families we host, at the forefront of everything we do. We have made a concerted effort over recent years to ensure that all of our log cabins and outdoor activities can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their needs or requirements are. We are a visitor destination and a place for people to enjoy some respite. We’re hoping that the addition of the new sensory trail will further enhance that sense of relaxation, and I’m confident that it will be enjoyed by all.”

Commented Dave Forshaw, president of Wirral Lions: “Wirral Lions’ objective is to serve our local community. By working in partnership with Barnstondale on developing and installing the garden, we are able to offer something that will stand to serve and benefit the children of Wirral for many years to come. We are excited to see how the sensory path will take shape over the coming months and can’t wait to see the finished result.”

Wirral Lions provide financial and practical help to individuals and a range of local, national and international charities and is committed to support the local community. Any organisations interested in the work of Wirral Lions Club and its partnership with Barnstondale can contact them on 0151 334 3044 or e-mail

Barnstondale offers outdoor pursuits and overnight stays to schools, families, other charity organisations and community groups from across Merseyside and the wider area. It prides itself on being an inclusive facility that can be enjoyed by children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

Montse Benitez visits Barnstondale with a donation

The Montse Benitez Foundation, run by Montse Benitez and her football legend husband Rafa Benitez, have been generous enough to support Barnstondale recently.

We were delighted to welcome Montse Benitez in person at the end of last month, as she came to explore the site and see in person what her donation had been able to achieve. Don’t just take our word for it, however, as Montse’s visit was reported on!

Click here to visit and read about how much Montse and other foundation members Linda and Chris Weston enjoyed their visit to Barnstondale and just what their generous donation of £3000 made possible.

We’re glad you enjoyed your and hope you’ll visit again very soon!