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£45k award to West Berkshire's Prior's Court for orchard project

BBC Children in Need and Youth Futures Foundation grant for school for young people with autism

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters

charlie.masters@newburynews.co.uk

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07964 444701

West Berkshire special education facility nabs major Children in Need grant

Prior's Court has been awarded a grant of more than £45,000.

The Hermitage school for young people with autism will receive £45,176 from BBC Children in Need and the Youth Futures Foundation.

The money will go towards creating an orchard at the school and recruiting a dedicated 'coach' to work in the area with the young people.

The grant will cover the costs of trees and equipment for the orchard.

Prior's Court director of education Sue Piper said: "Vocational learning, including land-based programmes such as horticulture, is one of our key areas of learning – to give more opportunities for our young people to develop the skills and experiences required to enter the world of work.

"This is particularly important, as only 32 per cent of people who are affected by autism are in paid employment.

"The orchard project supports this ambition as our young people can learn vital horticulture-based skills, such as using tools and plant care.

"Not only this, the project will also provide opportunities to improve wellbeing for both young people and our staff members by increasing time spent outside, and further developer positive relationships with trusted adults.”

The orchard is not merely for leisure purposes. It is hoped that the work maintaining it will give the students vital life skills.

Plans also include eventually selling the apples grown there, with all proceeds supporting Prior's Court.

Head of fundraising Karen White said: "This grant from BBC Children in Need is hugely important in allowing us to deliver this project.

"The eventual ambition is to use the apples from the orchard to create a commercial enterprise, similar to our groundbreaking Bread & Beyond bakery.

"This then gives our young people further opportunities to practice vocational skills in the field of business and enterprise.

"This grant will truly help to enhance the lives and employment opportunities of our young people both in the short-term and long-term future."

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