Percy Hedley School donates equipment to Uganda

Percy Hedley School has donated some specialist equipment to a charity which helps disabled children in Africa.

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The school donated several items to the Kyaninga Child Development Centre (KCDC) in Uganda.

The centre provides specialist rehabilitation for children with disabilities, including physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy, and works to empower them to more fully engage with society despite physical or financial constraints.

Since October KCDC has treated 483 children with a wide range of disabilities and provided more than 135 pieces of specialist equipment, including wheelchairs, CP chairs, walking frames and splints.

The charity relies on fundraising or donations to continue its work – Percy Hedley School was only too happy to help, donating standers, chairs and walkers as well as an all-terrain buggy, walking sticks, leg gaiters and books.

The school also handed over books, splints and orthotic equipment donated by Peacocks Medical Group in Newcastle.

The donation was organised by Special Support Assistant Allen Harrison and he said: “It is fantastic to know that children on the other side of the world will benefit from this equipment. We hope it can make a real difference in their lives.”

Rosie Brister from KCDC said: “The large amount of equipment donated by Percy Hedley School will have a massive impact on the lives of some of the children currently accessing KCDC.”

Congratulations to Northern Thunder Powerchair Football Club, who were crowned champions of the Muscular Dystrophy UK Premiership at the weekend!


Thunder went into the final weekend of games knowing a couple of wins would bring the title back to the North East and they did it in style winning all four of their games.

We are extremely proud of this fantastic achievement and are already looking forward to next season when we hope the team can retain their title.

Players Sam and Ed now turn their attentions to representing England at the Powerchair World Cup in Florida in July.

Well done to everyone involved!

Fab Fundraisers: Taking on Tough Mudder for Josh

Through our work, we are lucky to meet some amazing people, who go above and beyond to raise vital funds to ensure we can continue our work with disabled children, young people and adults.

We are extremely grateful to each and every single person who has raised money, made a donation or organised a fundraising event in aid of us. Every penny really does count in our mission to improve the lives of those we support and care for.

There are lots of ways people raise money for The Percy Hedley Foundation, but what we really love hearing about is why they do it. In our feature, Fab Fundraisers, we’ll get the story behind their amazing efforts.

Peter’s Story

This July fundraiser Peter Milne will take on Tough Mudder Yorkshire to raise money for the Foundation.

Peter Milne

Tough Mudder is a 12-mile mud and obstacle course designed to drag participants out of their comfort zone by testing physical strength, stamina, and mental grit.

Peter has never run that sort of distance before, but he has plenty of inspiration to get him through the gruelling course.

Peter’s nephew, Josh, 4, is autistic and started at Hedleys Percy Hedley School in November 2016. He has been inspired to raise money for the Foundation having seen the impact attending the school has had on Josh.

“Ever since Josh joined Percy Hedley School he is a much happier boy,” Peter explained.

“He’s learning more and he’s just enjoying life more. Percy Hedley does an amazing job and the family is very grateful for the help and support Josh receives at school.

“We have seen a real difference since he started so I wanted to do something to raise money for the Foundation.”

Peter is no stranger to running through mud having been part of the Officer Training Corps, but admits to never having run as far as 12 miles before.

He said: “I wanted to give myself a fun and exciting challenge and Tough Mudder is one I’ve been thinking of doing for a while now.

“I’ve never done a 10-12 mile run before, though, and I’ve done no training whatsoever. I play football once a week and that’s about it!”

If you would like to support Peter please check out his Virgin Giving Page:

Northern Thunder Powerchair Football Club has received a huge boost ahead of next season thanks to Newcastle law firm Bond Dickinson.


The Hedleys Sport outfit were delighted to receive a donation of £1200 from the Quayside-based firm, which will be used to buy new kit for next season.

Northern Thunder play their final games of the season this weekend when they hope to reclaim the Muscular Dystrophy National League title. They sit five points clear at the top of the table with four games to play.

It’s been another successful season for the team, who will have two representatives playing for England at the Powerchair World Cup in Florida in July.

Sam Smith and Edward Common are top scorers for Thunder this season and hope they can make it a league and cup double.

Asmah Baig, Community Relations Programme Manager at Bond Dickinson, presented a cheque to the team along with Hedleys Employability Manager Christine Shanks-Brownlee at their training session on Monday evening.

Staff at Bond Dickinson, who employ over 500 people in the North East, raise money throughout the year doing various activities and have already supported The Percy Hedley Foundation with donations to Hedleys College and Hedleys Employability.

Furthermore, the firm has also supported work placements and supported students doing a Toolkit for employers, which involves looking at documents, such job specifications and adverts to make them easy to read.

Michelle Strong, Head of Community and Enterprise at The Percy Hedley Foundation said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this generous donation from Bond Dickinson.

“Their support is greatly appreciated and will enable us to buy new kit for our very successful Northern Thunder team. Our thanks go to Asmah and all the staff at Bond Dickinson for this amazing support.”

Northern Thunder is part of the Foundation’s Sports Academy, based at Percy Hedley School in Killingworth.

For more information visit:

We would like to say a huge good luck to Carolyn, who is taking on the London Marathon in aid of the Foundation on Sunday.

Carolyn is a seasoned runner having completed a number of half marathons in the past, but she has never tackled a marathon before.

She said: “I wanted to challenge myself and what better way than to run a marathon ‘once’ and I really wanted to run London. I got a place via my running club ballot and will take my place on the start line with over 35,000 other runners this Sunday.”

Growing up, Carolyn volunteered time and raised money for children with disabilities in the North West and now has friends who use the services provided by The Percy Hedley Foundation.

“It was the ideal choice for me (to raise money for),” she said. “I’m also keen to raise money for a local charity where the support benefits the local community.”

Already, Carolyn has raised a staggering £800 and hopes her total will increase in the coming days.

Huge good luck from everyone at the Foundation Carolyn and thank you for #MakingADifference

If you would like to support Carolyn please visit:

Spotlight on the Hillcrest Centre

Hillcrest6The Hillcrest Centre, part of Hedleys Northern Counties School, is a specialist provision for children and young people on the autistic spectrum with additional learning and communication difficulties.

The centre currently has seven classes with 40 students aged between 5-19 years old.

A team of highly skilled teachers, therapists and support staff work together to provide an exceptionally integrated approach to education.

All students at Hillcrest require one-to-one support throughout the school day, while some require two-to-one and even three-to-one support.

Staff deal with extremely challenging behaviour on a daily basis, but their commitment to engaging students in class and helping them progress and achieve is second to none.

“The staff here are great at coming up with strategies to help students take part in activities,” said Abi Cowie, Lead Practitioner at the Hillcrest Centre.


“Our students really do get involved in the different topics we cover and that’s thanks to the teachers and support staff, who are really good at adapting activities and coming up with new ideas to suit specific individuals.

“Tasks have to be very short for the children and staff have to be on their toes to move on to the next task whilst keeping the student engaged.

“We were studying Food and Festivals around the world and one student built a colosseum out of sugar cubes. That’s how we adapted the lesson to teach that individual counting skills. We also looked at measuring, by taking part in a cheese rolling event.”

The Hillcrest Centre introduced a Behaviour Intervention Team two years ago to deal with challenging behaviours.


It has been a huge success for the centre – two current students who required three-to-one support when they first started at the centre now require two-to-one support with the goal of working towards one-to-one support in the future.

“We deal with every kind of behaviour at Hillcrest, including some very challenging behaviour. It’s a very physically and emotionally demanding place to work, but staff are so invested in the students and motivated to help them progress and achieve.

“They are very good at supporting each other and are well trained to spot triggers and come up with appropriate solutions. They also have great relationships with our parents and are keen to work in full partnership.”

All children have access to an inclusive functional curriculum that provides stimulating programmes that are challenging whilst at the same time ensuring that they are relevant and appropriately differentiated to meet individual needs.

Staff at Hillcrest are committed to helping students fulfil their potential and celebrate achievements.

“All the children have been to the Theatre Royal panto. That might not seem like a lot but that’s a huge achievement for us,” Abi explained.

“We have to take so much into account when it comes to planning something as simple as a trip to the theatre so we are very proud that students have the opportunity to do these things.

“We also have students who are working towards the bronze award of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and we were recently awarded accreditation from the National Autistic Society for the second time.”


Abi has been at Hedleys Northern Counties School for 13 years and she explains just how far the provision for autistic children has come in that time.

“When I first started we only had four autistic children so it’s great to see how the centre has developed and changed over the years,” she said. “We’re very proud of our work and the skills our young people develop over time.”


Nigel’s flying high!

NigelDayPlaneNigel Day lives at Tyne House and is fascinated by planes.

Nigel’s Support Worker, Carl Fullen, wrote to several airlines explaining Nigel’s interest and was over the moon when the airlines donated model airplanes and poster to Nigel.

Having models and posters wasn’t enough for Nigel, though. He really wanted to go on a plane. So, on March 14th, Carl took Nigel to Dublin with Residential Manager Sylvia McKenzie.

Nigel wasn’t interested in the destination – just the two airplane journeys! They left Newcastle at 11:20am and were back by 6:30pm – they just had enough time to have lunch – a flying visit it definitely was!!

When they sat down for lunch, Nigel decided he didn’t like his meal but did like the look of Carl’s and ate the lot! He then decided he’d like to eat his too. Given the time it took to support Nigel with two lunches, Carl didn’t have time for a meal and settled for a sandwich at the airport, which delighted Nigel to know he’d nicked Carl’s meal!

On the way back Nigel got to fly in a tiny ATR42, but the wheelchair assistance at Newcastle Airport for this type of aircraft meant exiting the plane via the loading door in an aisle chair!

A huge thanks to staff from Ryanair and Air Lingus for making Nigel’s journey an enjoyable one – these airlines were chosen based on Nigel’s colour preference.

A special mention should go to Carl and Sylvia, who went above and beyond to fulfil Nigel’s wishes. This is a great example of the Foundation’s values of putting service users at the heart of everything we do being put into practice.

P1020386Staff from Sage swapped keyboards for paintbrushes when they spent time volunteering at Hedleys Able 2 Forest Hall.

A team of 14 volunteers spent a day doing various jobs in the ceramics, art and horticulture departments.

The teams did some general cleaning and tidying ready for some redecorating in the ceramics and art rooms and the same in horticulture where they are getting ready for the start of spring hanging basket season.

A team also repainted the ceramics department, which now looks fab and fresh!

Thanks to every single volunteer, your support is appreciated very much.


Lori was one of the volunteers and she had some lovely feedback about her time with us.

“I was blown away by all the staff, not only by how kind and generous they were with us but also the residents,” she said.

“I went into ceramics with Kate (who was lovely) and couldn’t get over the hard work her and Denise put in on a daily basis. You could tell just by talking to them how motivated they were and must find their jobs extremely rewarding.

“Every single person that came into the room they knew everything about them, it was so personal and I can see why everyone was walking round with a smile on their face.

“The food was amazing! And we were really grateful for everything that day…especially the biscuits we got at the end of the day with our cuppa!”

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Jamie prepares for the ride of his life

Jamie’s Story

JamieHartley2On Sunday, April 2, Jamie Hartley will go on the ride of his life.

Jamie, 22, from Blyth, was diagnosed with Juvenile Huntington’s Disease (JHD) when he was just 13-years-old.

Juvenile Huntington’s Disease is a slowly progressing hereditary disease which causes brain cells to die. It is a life-limiting genetic disorder for which there is no cure.

Jamie, whose older brother Kyle, 24, also has JHD, attended Hedleys College for two years and has been accessing the Foundation’s adult day opportunities at Able 2 Forest Hall since December.

In January, Jamie suffered a devastating seizure leading his condition to rapidly deteriorate, so his family decided to plan a final ride for motorcycle-mad Jamie.

The illness means Jamie has very little control of his movement so Dad Mark put a message on Facebook to 30 friends appealing to borrow a sidecar for Jamie.


Within hours he had received more than 1400 responses, and as a couple of weeks passed that number had risen to over 200,000.

Support for the appeal gathered pace and now Jamie will be taking the ride of his life alongside more than 1000 bikers in a ride out in Blyth organised by the North East Bikers Group this Sunday 11am-4pm.

And that’s not all! Various fundraising activities and events are taking place over the weekend to raise money for the family after hundreds of people came forward wanting to help.

“We have been incredibly overwhelmed by the response we’ve received,” said Mark. “I really didn’t expect a status on Facebook to 30 friends to go worldwide

“We are absolutely stunned and so grateful to everyone who has contacted us and offered to help in some way.

“Now, instead of me and a few pals taking Jamie out, there will be over 1,000 bikers from all over the UK and even some from Europe taking part in the ride out.

“Jamie is really looking forward to it. We’ve been showing him pictures of the bikes and cars that will be there and his face lights up.

“We’ve been practicing for the weekend as our main concern is keeping Jamie safe and looking after all these wonderful cars and bikes that people have offered to bring.”

Full details of Jamie’s Ride and the whole weekend can be found at:

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CondEdWeekHedleys Percy Hedley School celebrated Conductive Education Awareness Week with a host of fun activities last week.

Conductive Education is an educational approach developed in Hungary and used at school to meet the needs of children with neurological and motor disorders.

As part of PCA & CEPEG Conductive Education Awareness Week, the Conductive Education department took part in their first ever group task series.

This year’s awareness theme is superpowers so all Conductive Education classes got together in the school gym and practiced tv heir superpowers – the motor skills they have learnt during daily targeted activities – to the Superman Song!


Celebrations continued on Wednesday when the school had ‘Hungarian Day’.

Classes each prepared traditional Hungarian dishes in the morning and everyone got the chance to sample them in the afternoon. Students also designed Hungarian flags to decorate school!

For more information on the Conductive Education approach at Percy Hedley School head to:

IMG_6318 IMG_6317 Hungarian Day3 hungarian Day4 Hungarian Day1 Benjamins Hungarian rosette Christophers Hungarian rosette Emilys Hungarian rosette Nats Hungarian rosette