A VALE of Glamorgan farm and charity celebrates its 30th anniversary and 30 years of helping animals and vulnerable people in the community.
The Amelia Trust Farm is a sanctuary offering therapeutic support to disadvantaged and vulnerable people. It also has a dormitory that can be rented for overnight stays, where visitors can encounter a wide range of animals ranging from reptiles to chickens, cows and donkeys.
Work to establish the farm began on September 20, 1990, with the establishment of Amelia Methodist Trust Company Limited. They were given a 160 acre farm with abandoned buildings and barns. Bob and Ethel Huggard, benefactors of the trust, turned the farm into a living memorial to Mr. Huggard’s mother, Amelia, along with the Reverend John Stacy-Marks and the Methodist Church of Wales.
The vision of the trust was to use the farm as a “rural lung” for a variety of people, but especially for those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. They wanted to help people help themselves, build their confidence and improve their job prospects.
There have been constant developments over the 30 years with the Reverend John Stacy-Marks appointed as the first principal in July 1991. The following year the first students arrived at Barry Comprehensive and Barry College Farm. It is also the year that the pond was dug and the herb garden was created.
The field study center and animal center opened in 1993 with a dormitory. They were supported through a grant from BT and Children in Need. Groups of young people from Northern Ireland and Cardiff Docks helped build an amphitheater in 1994, the same year the Robert Huggard workshops opened.
A cooking workshop opened in 1995. Prince Charles visited and was present at the dedication of the Celtic cross in 1997 and benefactress Ethel Huggard received an MBE. The following year, the Ethel Huggard workshops opened, which included a music studio. In 1999 the arrangements for Key Stage 4 Youth Access were opened.
In 2005 Llangennith House was built on the site and the following year the Mary Remmington Extension was opened. Two years later, Deacon Lorraine Brown was appointed the new director.
A pond dipping platform and bird skin was built in 2011 and two years later a new independent living center was opened by then Prime Minister Carwyn Jones. A gym was also installed with funds from the Cerys Potter Foundation.
In 2014 the farm was granted City & Guilds approved center status and in 2015 Karen Turnbull became its new manager. A new extension of the car park was carried out the following year at the same time as the renovation of the animal center. A donkey sanctuary was also opened in 2016.
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In 2018, a new music and computer suite opened, as well as a new reception refuge and a farm shop. They also hosted Woody’s Lodge Charity on the farm. In 2019, another parking extension was completed and the dormitory was renovated.
One of the most successful programs on the farm is the GROW program. It provides support tailored to the needs of each student, whether they have emotional or behavioral difficulties, learning difficulties or struggles in regular school.
They use the program to create a positive, expressive and nurturing environment to help young people develop behavioral, emotional and social skills to help them take more control over their lives.
Sophie Howe, who works on the farm, said: “Our GROW program continued to operate throughout the pandemic, so even though we weren’t open to visitors during closings, we were able to continue to have an offer. alternative education for our young people. which was awesome.
“We look forward to a brighter year 2022. ”
Due to the pandemic, the 30th anniversary celebrations for the farm were smaller than expected, but they were able to celebrate with volunteers, staff and friends of the farm over the 30 years of the farm’s existence.
Along with the meeting – held in the farm gym – they also held raffles with 22 lucky winners receiving prizes from various companies.
Ms Howe said: “There have been a lot of highlights over the past 30 years, and the farm holds a special place in the hearts of many in the local community. For us, one of the highlights of the last eighteen months has to be a message we received from a parent of one of the young people in our GROW program, at the end of their stay on the farm.
This is the message: “CROSS. We had no idea how this service would help our son grow up.
“In the midst of utter desperation, we entrusted the staff with our son at a very tender age when he should have been in full-time schooling.
“After years of battling systems that our son just didn’t fit into, he found his place to thrive. The first few months of attending a variety of sessions only increased the challenges created by emotional health issues, lack of formal education, and lack of peer support / friendship groups. That didn’t stop the team from supporting our son and us until he was able to settle in, see his place and start to flourish.
“Month after month, year after year, the GROW staff never gave up, encouraged, inspired, challenged, corrected and encouraged our boy until he finally declared success, requiring less cajoling and began to independently show its true colors.
“This weekend our son worked on the farm in a paid role and also enrolled in college.
“The difference this team has made not only to our son, but to us as a family is undeniably one of the most positive things that has happened over the past five years.
“Without the support of the GROW function and the really great and dedicated staff, we know we would all have had a much more traumatic journey.
“Thank you all for helping our son GROW”.
Vale MS Jane Hutt said, “The elementary school students and youth who benefited from this caring and learning community enjoyed the beautiful farm, the woods and the animals. It was good to see all the partners at work and to hear some exciting plans for the future of Amelia Trust. ”
To learn more about Amelia Trust Farm, visit https://ameliatrust.org.uk/visit-our-farm/#faqs