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Greatwood's great work acknowledged

Home for retired racehorses marks 10 years work on rehabilitation and education

Malcolm Howe



Greatwood's great work acknowledged

A decade of work at Greatwood

STUDENTS who attended Greatwood’s recent Certificate Presentation Day were part of a double celebration when the Marlborough-based charity marked its 10th year of delivering pioneering educational programmes for children and young adults with additional educational needs.

Founded in 1998 by husband and wife team Michael and Helen Yeadon as a rescue and rehoming centre for ex-racehorses, Greatwood has become an important local community resource for education authorities, social services and pupil referral units in the region since the introduction of its bespoke educational programmes.

Inspired by the couple’s early recognition that working with animals, and particularly horses, can have an extremely positive affect on personal development among those with cognitive, physical, emotional and social challenges or disabilities, the charity has developed four individual programmes accredited by the National Open College Network, and a further four accredited 1st4sport.

Qualifications range from Certificate courses designed to develop life skills and emotional literacy in younger students to diploma courses in skills for employment, training and personal development.

Co-founder and Managing Director Helen Yeadon said, “It’s wonderful to be celebrating ten years of the educational programmes. We believe we have created a model at Greatwood that can be emulated almost anywhere where there are horses in need of a home and children with special educational needs.

“Greatwood has provided a second career for many hundreds of horses over the years and now the majority of thoroughbreds that come to us come not because they are in need, but because their owners want them to continue having a purposeful life.”

Since 2006 approximately 3,000 children and young people have benefited from the unique resources at Greatwood many using their experience as an aid to reintegration into mainstream education or as a stepping stone towards work, work placements or further training.

With two dedicated classrooms, a Specialist teacher with more than 20 years’ experience in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, a teacher and graduate from the Royal Agricultural College plus a Learning Support Assistant with extensive experience of working with young people with additional educational, social and emotional needs, Greatwood is able to cater for pupils with a wide variety of requirements.

Greatwood receives referrals and support from a variety of organisations and social services within the community.

Endorsing Greatwood’s work Andrew Jack, Wiltshire Council’s Community Engagement Manager for Marlborough said, “Marlborough Area Board has been very happy to support the good work that the Greatwood Charity does for both the local area and further afield. The area board has been able to help provide grant funding towards specialist educational material for the training courses Greatwood runs for people with additional educational needs."

Some of the ex-racehorses cared for at Greatwood may have suffered neglect several years after their retirement from racing; often because they have been passed from owner to owner and have fallen into a downward spiral of neglect.

Greatwood uses them as vehicles for teaching, with direct parallels being drawn between the experiences of these horses and the students attending the courses. This is particularly pertinent to those children who may have come from the care system and find it difficult to trust or respect others; as well as engaging in nurturing, caring relationships.

Further information about Greatwood and its work is available at

The Hon Robert Buckland QC, the Member of Parliament for South Swindon, is the latest Patron of Greatwood.

A determined campaigner for education, Mr Buckland was awarded the Grassroots Diplomat Policy Driver Award for his campaigning work on Special Educational Needs both locally and nationally and continues to work to help children and young people with Special Education Needs in Swindon and nationally.

“I am a frequent visitor to Greatwood,” he said, “and I am delighted to support the excellent work they do in enriching the education of the children in their care.”

He joins a number of leading racing figures among the Partons of Greatwood, including Highclere Thoroughbreds Founder The Hon. Harry and Mrs Herbert, three-times champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson and former top jockey turned broadcaster Mick FitzGerald.

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