Wilton Centre plays ball with charity

The Wilton Centre has welcomed a visit by a charity which helps young people and adults with complex care needs live independently.

The JPC Community Farm near Stokesley was set up in 2017 by Paul and Julie Connaughton to provide care and support for their son James, now 23, and other local people who have similar requirements.

The plan for the farm started a year earlier when Paul and Julie began looking ahead to James’ future and were concerned about the quality of care available. “We were starting to think about who would look after him when we no longer could,” said Paul.  “It’s any parent’s worst nightmare but it’s magnified when you have a child with special needs.”

As well as acquiring life skills at the farm such as cooking, people there also learn about animal welfare and husbandry.

“The idea was that these adults are cared for all the time, but with a bit of love and support they can be carers themselves for the animals,” said Paul.  That project has been so successful that it is about to be featured for the third time on the Yorkshire Vet television series.

Wilton Centre “delighted to facilitate the day”

Wheelchair Basketball has also thrived on the farm and people working at the Wilton Centre were invited to give it a try.

Abbie Hardisty – a Project Manager with Absolute Antibody – said: “The basketball was great fun but quite hard work.  I don’t need to go to the gym today after that.”

Her colleague Senior Scientist Stacey Walker added: “I never imagined I would try Wheelchair Basketball but I’m really glad I gave it a go.” Absolute Antibody also provided a tour of its laboratories for visitors from the farm and Paul and Julie gave a presentation to the Centre’s occupiers about the work of the charity.

Claire Morton, Wilton Centre’s Leasing and Assistant Asset Manager, said: “We were delighted to facilitate the day and it was really interesting for us all to learn about the work of the charity which does such a fantastic job.”

Paul Connaughton added: “We’re so grateful to the Wilton Centre and a big thank you to all the people who took part in the games.  Hopefully it’s an experience they’ll never forget.”

The Wilton Centre is owned by Pioneer Group which has nine other sites in the UK and Ireland, home to nearly 650 businesses.