A charity founded by War horse author Michael Morpurgo has received the first in a series of annual £10,000 donations from the CLA Charitable Trust – money which will be used to give youngsters from inner city schools a week’s holiday on a working farm.
The first cheque was handed over at Wick Court, Gloucestershire, this week where 30 children from a primary school in Enfield, Middlesex, were enjoying lambing and milking courtesy of the charity Farms for City Children.
Wick Court is one of three farms operated by Farms for City Children which was founded by Warhorse author Michael Morpurgo and his wife, Clare, at their farm at Nethercott, Devon.
Every year the charity provides working holidays for around 3,000 youngsters from urban backgrounds across the UK on its three farms. For many it is their first experience of the countryside and their first opportunity to get close to farm animals.
The £10,000 a year donation agreement by the CLA Charitable Trust will be used to fund three separate one-week stays for more than 100 children at one of the charity’s centres in Devon, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire. The money will also be targeted at providing farm breaks for youngsters with disabilities.
CLA Charitable Trust Director Peter Geldart said: "The work of Farms for City Children matches the objective of the CLA Charitable Trust to promote education about the countryside to children from inner city schools. Without such opportunities, these kids might never experience contact with farm animals or begin to understand where their food comes from."
Farms for City Children Chief Executive Helen Chaloner said: "This fantastic support from the CLA Charitable Trust means so much to us. Our aim of giving city children an unforgettable experience staying on a working farm sits so well with the aims of the Trust. We are excited at the prospect of working closely together over the next few years."
The key element, says the farm’s children’s manager, Heather Tarplee, is that the kids get to do all the jobs on the farm from milking the cattle and feeding the sheep and pigs to mucking out the horses and even pressing apples from the orchard at harvest time.
"We make sure they are involved in every aspect of work on the farm. They are not allowed games consoles and there are no televisions so they have to learn to engage with each other and with what’s going on around them. But by the end of a full day, they’re usually too tired for television," she said.