02 December 2014

Young people at a specialist autism school in Berkshire are having fun while reaping the educational benefits of caring for pigs thanks to a grant from the CLA Charitable Trust.

The £1000 grant has enabled improvements to the on-site pig facilities at the Countryside Learning Centre at Prior’s Court, Hermitage. This vocational learning centre helps young people with autism to learn through practical experiences, including learning to care for farm animals.

The benefits of the improvements at Prior’s Court have already been enjoyed by 80 young people following completion of the work in September 2014.

Improvements undertaken thanks to the grant include work to give the young people a safe area in which to interact with the Kunekune pigs, to help the vet to handle the animals, and to improve access to the area. The grant has also contributed to paddock enhancements at the Countryside Learning Centre.

The CLA is a membership association representing landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales. The CLA Charitable Trust provides education, recreation and facilities in the countryside for those who are disabled or disadvantaged and particularly for young people. CLA members support the Trust generously – since its inception in 1980, the Trust has awarded more than £1.75 million in grants.

Lucinda Gillingham, Head of Fundraising at Prior’s Court, said: “We are thrilled that the grant from the CLA Charitable Trust has enabled us to increase the educational opportunities for young people to learn and interact with the pigs in our Countryside Learning Centre. It is just fantastic for us to see the educational benefits coming to the fore, such as building communication, gross and fine motor skills, social skills and numeracy. Working with the pigs is also great fun for all involved.”

Robin Edwards, CLA Director South East, said: “One of the central aims of the CLA Charitable Trust is to support the advancement of education in agriculture, horticulture and conservation for young people.We are delighted to support the important work of the Countryside Learning Centre at Prior’s Court.”