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Charity Update 3rd August 2020


Dorian Mead, Chairman of Trustees

On behalf of all the trustees of Heathrow Special Needs Centre I would like to bring you up to date with the status of the charity.

Firstly we want to offer our heartfelt thanks to all our marvellous staff and volunteers who have stood with us through this most challenging year in our thirty five year history. Having started 2020 with high hopes February brought us flooding across the site on two occasions meaning both immediate disruption of services to clients but damage to facilities leading to an ongoing insurance claim. Having all pulled together as the tide receded and restarted client visits plus riding the Covid-19 virus pandemic meant that during March our visitor numbers started to decrease and the government then required our complete closure.

The trustees were confronted with stark choices as how to deal with what was anticipated to be a lengthy shutdown. We decided to retain all our animals and set up the staff/volunteer rota that was in compliance with the restrictions placed on us. Our sincere thanks go to all those who have embraced the rota and the changed work practices for the past four months and also to those who have been on furlough or not included on the volunteer rota. Keeping our animals in good health and avoiding exposing our staff/volunteers to unnecessary virus risk has been a difficult path to follow but at all times the trustees have reviewed the situation and made our best decisions. Also our guinea pigs and rabbits have been enjoying a prolonged break elsewhere too throughout this time.

Like every organisation, charity or business in Great Britain the Centres finances have been adversely affected by the flooding disruptions and then Covid19. Our cash reserves have been depleted by the need to pay our regular, unaviodable costs at the same time as regular income has all but gone. Grant applications in progress were ceased by the funders but rest assured the trustees have made all applicable requests for the support streams relevant to our charity. Some have been successful, others not, but our bank reserves are well below the minimum required by our legally binding constitution.

Multiple meetings between trustees, via zoom, have taken place during the months togethjer with regular email exchanges as the situation has developed. Difficult decisions have been made to ensure the Centre still exists in a viable form into next year. A staffing review has taken place and all employees have been treated equally throughout using a fully documented, ACAS approved process.

Although this sounds like depressing news there are positive trends to report.

The charity has been successful in a number of grant applications which will secure our fixed costs into 2020 based on the revised way of working.

All our animals are staying with us at the Centre.

In future all attendance by staff, volunteers and clients will be prebooked making us compliant with Test and Trace requirements and allowing everyone to have structured tasks and activities to match their visits, particularly our clients.

Later from a date in August we hope to welcome more volunteers onto the rota together with furloughed staff as appropriate.

From a date to be agreed in August we intend to restart riding foe our most able riders which will be in accordance with RDA guidance and on those days when clients are on site everyone will need to comply with the Covid Secure Workplace requirements which will force new ways of working. With compliance being the only means by which we can reopen in phases to welcome clients for the foreseeable future.

Over time we will reopen to other client profiles as the situation allows.

The return of clients is very important to those individuals but also to allow the Centre to make funding applications as a going concern rather than in the current mode of suspension.

All the planning and design work for the intended move to a new facility as part of Heathrow expansion will not be wasted. The lessons learned are to be revisited and various elements applied at our existing site as part of future plans that will form elements of capital grant applications. Many of our fixed assets are now ready for renewal or refurbishment after 22 years use and will need money spent to recover them.

At the core of our future must be providing our client visitors the best structured activities to ensure every time they come to the Centre they leave with a tangible benefit from that experience. Together as a team we can continue to provide a facility where each of the HSNC functions create positive moments for everyone attending. Working as a team has got us through these past mnths and is key to a brighter future


Kind regards



Chairman of Trustees



JUNE 2020

James is a regular rider at Heathrow Special Needs Centre. Like all his fellow riders the combination of flooding and the coronavirus lockdown means he has not been able to ride since February this year.

This has impacted him in many ways. Clearly he misses seeing the horses, especially Oreo, and his instructor Diane. He misses the physical enjoyment of being on the horse and all the benefits that brings.

As an adult with autism his regular weekly activities provide structure and routine to his life. Horse riding is definitely his favourite! Without his routine he has struggled to remember which day of the week it is! He has found this quite distressing.

James is quiet and withdrawn by nature and horse riding is hugely motivating for him. We joke at home that if he doesn't want to ride he must be ill! It has been coming increasingly difficult to interest him in activities as the weeks have progressed. Riding is also a great incentive for him to keep his weight in check so that's been a challenge too!

On the bright side. James has stayed healthy throughout this challenging period. He has coped better than expected and has adjusted to the 'new normal'. He understands that the horses are being well looked after and he'll be back in the saddle when circumstances allow.  


OUR FAMILY IN LOCKDOWN                

JUNE 2020

Our family went into 'lockdown' on 17th March - a week before most people but by then, of course, the farm had already closed. It has been interesting to see the effect on Dan, our youngest. Life revolves around him, and ordinarily he is very anxious and can get agitated very easily. The one saving grace is that the ponies at the farm calm him in a way nothing else can. The rest of us don't understand it - horses just aren't our 'thing'. But we recognise the importance of this experience to Dan and so religiously for the past six and a half years we've come to the farm every week so that Dan can ride and spend time with Metereo, Pirelli, Chispa, Tooky and of course Banana. Julie and Arnold, the donkeys, and Wispa and Stormy, the miniature ponies, also get attention.

Going into lockdown was a worry - how would Dan cope? How long would it be before NOT seeing the horses had an effect on him? He also sees an osteopath every four weeks and that too, has stopped, so we were expecting to deal with a pretty angry person before long.

But, lockdown has been a revelation - Dan is incredibly calm, and at peace. He hasn't been out at all, so he doesn't have to worry about seeing strangers, talking to people, trying to figure out what they want from him - all those usual worries that a person with autism has have gone. He is safe. at home, in his secure space, and all is well with the world.

Granted, Dan did hold his breath whenever we opened the door to the garden at the start of lockdown - he thought the air was contaminated. One week in though and he wanted his hair cut, which had to be done in the garden, so fortunately we got over that hurdle quickly enough. He spends time with his carer online now, and they play Yu-Gi-Oh and chat.

The past eight years have been trying to get Dan to integrate into society again after a very traumatic time at school. and although he'd come a long way, there was still a long way to go. Lockdown has given him every reason to revert back and to lose a lot of the headway made, so whilst I'm glad he has been calm during this time, I am also worried about what the future holds. Walking to the shop by himself to buy a packet od crisps was a long time in the  making. If you consider just how much more difficult it is for any of us to do simple tasks like this now, imagine just how much more difficult it will be for someone with autism. All those routines they knew aren't appropriate any more and so whole new routines will need to be learned.

Maybe our experience during lockdown can help us understand what life is normally like for someone with autism. We can't see people's faces if they're wearing masks, so we can't read their expression and it's amazing how much we rely on seeing someone's mouth when they speak. Do you talk to that person standing two metres away, or is it too far to project your voice?  Will they engage in conversation with you or will they avoid eye contact and look away? If someone comes closer than they should, your'e not happy - you frown and move away. And everything we do now involves more thinking about, and are we always prepared for every situation we meet when we go out? I think not. So yes, perhaps we have all been able to experience what it is like, in some small way, to see life as it used to be through the eyes of a person with autism.

So what about the farm? Does Dan miss that? Of course he does. He clearly thinks about the horses a lot and he talks to me about how this one would stick their tongue out when he was stroking them, or fall asleep, or pull a funny face if he got to give them a polo mint. Telling me the same stories, over and over. Because he gets reassurance from that - it's a comfort to him.

I am truly thankful that Dan has coped during lockdown, but I am equally thankful that he will have the ponies to return to at some point and Dan will need all the love and peace he can get from them to help move forward in what is going to be an uncertain furure for us all.



MAY 2020

Hi, I'm Jude, I miss my horse riding and all the animals so much!  During lock down I have been keeping myself busy  with lots of gaming and arts and crafts, and spending time with with my dog Delilah. I'm lucky enough to still see my therapy horse Sam and we made a rainbow using her hoof prints, I'm sharing my home with my mum  and dad, sister and her boyfriend, they're all good fun we've played loyts of games, set up an assault course in the garden and I talk to my nan and grandad a lot over the facebook portal, I miss them the most. I'm really looking forward to seeing Perry and the other horses again soon and can't wait to see you all at the Heathrow Special Needs Centre. I hope you're staying safe and well.











All thanks to Storm 'Dennis' but with the help of staff and volunteers ALL our animals are safe.

















December 2019

Our users christmas party

More than 100 visitors came to our christmas party and welcomed the Mayor of The London Borough of Hillingdon Cllr. David Yarrow and Mayoress Mary O'Connor MBE.


The Sheraton Heathrow Hotel provided a great buffet lunch.


Entertainment was provided by 'Captain Jugglebeard' and 'Silly Elf' aka Dave Webb and Sheroz Khan ably assisted by our wonderful 'Magic Santa' and his conjouring tricks.







October 2019

Our friends at Firmenich have given us a wonderful grant of $5000 US dollars and spent a day at the centre doing much painting and planting loads of bulbs which will blossom in the spring.      








September 2019


Jenny, a volunteer at the centre completed the Windsor Half Marathon and raised £240 for us.

Well done Jenny and thank you so much 












As a recent volunteer, I wrote this poem to express some feelings I have for the farm.


Down on the Farm


Hidden away, very close to BA Terminal 5 you will find the Heathrow Special Needs Centre, 

here all of creation. nature and animals comes alive

whilst passengers rush from terminals, lounges and gates

the gentle life and rythmn of the farm awaits

passengers shop, and drink coffee, luggage on wheels, and passports to hand meanwhile some volunteers enter reception, sign in, and look at the wipe - board, to discover what jobs need doing - and are inviting

we soon pass the stable with the sign warning 'animals may bite'

jobs to be done on a daily basis, large and small, mundane and skilled, and if the farm manager Susan's not around, just check the board for a job that needs to be filled

when I first arrived a couple of winters ago, of course all farm life was new,

I was given the task of emptying the large 'duck-pond' with buckets, and refilling with a water-hose OH! and indeed that murky smell of stale - dirty water, really got up my nose! I've also met some fine human's young and not so young whilst going about the farm.

and been amunsed by the free range chickens and roosters who roam freely, all around the barn.

everyone has a favourite of course, and for me it's the two pigs that steal the show, real characters, and so feisty and clever, i'm still a bit scared of the fine riding horses and dont get too close to their tether

and so dear reader, it's about time for me to sign off, i'm glad I discovered the farm, and having benefitted from mixing with god's creatures, large and small

so farewell for now, the centre has such a peaceful and pleasant charm, yes indeed, there's no place, quite like The Heathrow Special Needs Centre.


Written by John Holman

September 2019 
















JUNE 2019







MAY 2019






APRIL 2019






APRIL 2019





October 2018

Firmenech did much painting and tidying up





September 2018

Our friends from Sales Force came back for some much needed gardening and painting. Many thanks for all your hard work




June 2018

Our friends at Sales Force came back again for much needed gardening and some smart painting around the Plough Garden. Many thanks









June 2018

Our friends at Sales Force came again in June and painted a lot of fencing and making the Centre look smart.

Many thanks






May 2018


Our friends from Sales Force spent the day working on much needed jobs. 

Many thanks for your wonderful support







April 2018


Our friends at Dimensions Data have upgraded our internet and wifi throughout the site to a high professional standard. We could not have afforded this much needed work and their wonderful help and support is gratefully appreciated.







December 2017

Our Users Christmas Party was a great success. Everyone received a present from Santa who also performed magic tricks. Garfield & the Mayor Of Hillingdon ensured all had a good time with lunch provided by The Heathrow Sheraton Hotel.







October 2017

Our friends at SAP spent the day sorting the muck heap and painting the raised boardwalk to the

Nature Area. Many thanks for your great work







Sarfraz completed the London Marathon and fundraised £870 for the Centre.

Many thanks to Sarfraz and also to Viva Xpress Logistics (UK) Ltd for their support




Open Day 19th September 2017

Some pictures of a great event on a sunny day. The Mayor of Hllingdon presented certificates of merit and The Heathrow Sheraton Hotel provided a buffet lunch. 







September 2017


Our friends at Heathrow Airport Ltd have transformed the Memory Garden






July 2017


Tommy, one of our volunteers has been fundraising and raised £62.00 for the Centre.

Well done Tommy




July 2017

Thank you Ashford Rotary Club for your £100 donation




May 2017

Our friends at UPS have donated £695 to to help towards the costs of our not for profit

Cedar Tea Room.

Managed by Yvonne and her family who have made Cedar Tea Room a special place for our disadvantaged users and visitors.  See more pictures and info on the Cedar Tea Room page. 





Meet our new turkeys, Rosemary & Thyme, friends for Borage (Boris).

Both birds were kindly donated by Copas Traditional Turkeys at Cookham.




                                                    Some of our friends at Sainsbury's



                                             Collection at Sainsbury's Easter 2017: Many thanks Bernie and Yvonne




                                                                             SOME OF OUR SUPPORTERS


                                            The Butterflies Group                                                                 The DHL team


                                           Etihad Airways                                                                               Centrica


                                                               Inner Wheel of Walton on Thames



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