The Percy Hedley Foundation celebrated its 65th birthday today!

On the same day in 1953, our story began when Percy Hedley School opened its doors for the first time to 12 children with cerebral palsy.

Residents from Chipchase House and Ferndene Bungalows came together with people from Hedleys Able 2 to have a celebratory coffee and cake morning.

Chipchase resident Stephen Darke, who was one of the first children at Percy Hedley School in 1953 did the honours and cut the cake for everyone to enjoy.

It was Stephen’s parents, Stephen and Molly Darke, who first campaigned for a school where their disabled son, and others like him, could go.

They wrote to the Evening Chronicle, appealing for other parents for cerebral palsy children to come forward.

Funding came from the Percy Hedley Foundation, a Trust created after the death of a local engineer to support charities in the North East.

Over six decades, the Foundation has grown from a small school to provide support for 1,000 families a year, offering a range of residential and day services.

Happy Birthday to us!

Today we mark 65 years since Percy Hedley School first opened its doors to 12 children with cerebral palsy.

From humble beginnings, we are very proud to have grown to become one of the leading charities supporting disabled people.

To read about how it all began click here

Skydiving is no limit for Percy Hedley student Jimmy

A Percy Hedley School student who defied the odds to complete a sponsored skydive is planning a sixth adrenaline-fuelled jump.

Jimmy Simpson, 18, from South Shields, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth and has been a wheelchair user all his life.

The condition affects Jimmy’s movement, coordination and communication, but he has always enjoyed adrenaline-filled activities including zipwires, free-fall drops and rollercoasters.

A year ago Jimmy decided he wanted to do his first skydive, and after receiving medical clearance he fulfilled his dream and raised over £1,500 after completing a 15,000ft skydive at the Skydive Academy in Peterlee, County Durham.

Jimmy presented a cheque to the school recently alongside his teacher, Rebecca Fletcher, who also completed a skydive, and the money will be split between the Post 16 department, where Jimmy is currently working towards a maths GCSE, and The Percy Hedley Foundation.

One skydive wasn’t enough for thrill-seeker Jimmy, though, and he has now completed five dives with a sixth booked in for February. And if that’s not enough, Jimmy also harbours ambitions of doing a 25,000ft skydive in Portugal.

Jimmy said: “I don’t have time to worry about fear. Since birth I have dealt with circumstances which take courage to deal with. I have cerebral palsy which is a physical condition that occurs as a result of brain damage during birth.

“My condition affects the things others would find easy, but that does not stop me. I’m a thrill seeker and love my life. I enjoy adrenaline filled activities.

My school has helped and supported me since I was three-years-old, they have also encouraged me to believe in myself and focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t.

“For me doing this skydive is a dream, something I have always wanted to do. Allowing me to raise this money will help support me, my friends and the other students at school accomplish our dreams.”






College students get angling certificates

A group of the Adult Programme students at Hedleys College took part in an Angling course before Christmas.

Sportivate is a national participation programme, funded by Sport England, which started in 2011. It aims to provide a range of attractive, accessible and sustainable sporting activities for 11-25 year olds, including a six-week Angling 4 All course.

The programme gives young people access to six week blocks of free coaching, primarily targeting those who currently take part in no, or very little, exercise.

The organisers visited college before Christmas to present students with their certificates. Well done Michael, Curtis and Chris!

New Boxing and Fitness Club!

Hedleys Able 2 Sports Outreach have set up a new boxing and fitness club!

Sessions start January 26th and will run every Friday at Hedleys Sports Academy on West Lane in Killingworth.

Everyone welcome!

Merry Christmas from The Percy Hedley Foundation!

Merry Christmas to all our wonderful supporters!

Wishing you all a warm and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at The Percy Hedley Foundation.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in 2017. We will continue to work towards achieving our vision of Achievement for All in 2018.

The Change Attitudes Now Conference organised by Hedleys Employability proved to be a huge success at the beginning of December.

There was a packed house of 200 at the Crowne Plaza in Newcastle for the event, which aimed to challenge the disability employment gap. The Government has pledged to halve the gap – currently 33.1 per cent – by 2020.

Minister for Disabled People, Work and Pensions, Sarah Newton, joined several speakers including Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson, Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, Liz Sayce, who all had their say on what the country could be doing better to get more disabled people into work.

It was a huge team effort to make the conference a success with several areas of the Foundation working together and contributing. Students from Hedleys College volunteered on the day, welcoming and assisting delegates, while Barry, who attends Hedleys Studios at the Orion Project interviewed some of the speakers for Hedleys Radio. Hedleys Printworks also provided the signs and banners which made the room look great.

CAN Conference Podcast


We received some fantastic feedback from attendees. Check out some of their comments:

Kelly: Thank you @percyhedley! A great event! Really enjoyed it and met some great people! Learnt a few things too!

Kate: Great conference! Spread the word #CAN

Bell Group: We’ve had a great and very positive day in #Newcastle at the #CANConference for the @percyhedley Foundation today. Thank you for inviting us. #PositiveAttitude

Do you remember the amazing Poppy Picture made by Philip and Jessica at Hedleys Able 2?

The artwork, which took 9 months to complete, was won in an auction at the CIPD North East Awards by Formica, who bid £1,000 for it.

This week, Philip and Jessica were invited to visit Formica in North Shields to see their work hanging proudly on the office wall and have a tour.

In a lovely gesture, Formica presented Philip and Jessica with a laminated version of the Poppy picture to take back to Able 2!

Huge thanks to Emma, Michelle and Paul from organising the visit and to the Hedleys Employability team for arranging the auction!

Proceeds from the auction of the Poppy went back to Able 2 to reinvest in the service.

Thanks to the support of employers across the North East, Hedleys Employability has placed many young people and adults within companies to gain valuable work experience in the last year.

In a series of features, we go behind the scenes at some of the placements organised by the Hedleys Employability team to see how both employer and employee benefit from the experience.

Next up is Toby Redford, who attends Hedleys College in Forest Hall. Toby attends a supported internship at the Virtual College in Blyth.

It’s approaching 10am on a cold and wet November morning in Blyth and Hedleys College student Toby has just arrived for work.

Since September Toby, 22, has attended a two-day supported internship at the Northumberland Virtual School for Looked After Children in Blyth, which provides education and support to over 300 children across Northumberland.

Every Tuesday and Thursday Toby spends the day at the School’s office carrying out a number of tasks, but not before he’s gone round the office to say hello and ask how everyone is.

Toby’s tasks include data input, organising brochures and workbooks, participating on the Pupil Placement Panel, organising paperwork and attending meetings. Team Manager Toni McGuire explains how much Toby has progressed in only a few months.

“Toby’s independence has grown massively since he started with us,” Toni said.

“At the beginning he would stay close to Kerry (who supports Toby at his internship) but now he likes to arrive on his own and relies on Kerry a lot less .

“The quality of Toby’s work is very impressive and he’s become very popular with everyone in the office.

“When Toby is here he lifts the mood, he really has had a positive effect on the whole office.”

Toby has been a student at Hedleys College for three years and did an initial work placement at the Virtual School earlier this year. Staff were so impressed that they offered him a two-day supported internship.

Toni said: “It’s been a positive experience all round for us. We have had to think more about how we facilitate staff and how we communicate and give instructions.

“It’s really important that more businesses offer internships to disabled people. Toby’s internship runs for one year and we do hope to offer him a permanent part-time post at the end of it.”

Hedleys Employability recently hosted a high-profile conference aimed at challenging the current disability employment gap.

The Government has set a bold target to halve the disability employment gap between disabled and non-disabled workers by 2020, which currently stands at approximately 33.1 per cent.

Christine Shanks-Brownlee, Project Manager at Hedleys Employability believes it is vital more employers offer internships like Northumberland Virtual School. She said: “Hedleys Employability compliments the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign, which is committed to halving the disability employment gap.

“Employers have a vital role to play in this. The number of disabled people entering the labour market can only be increased if employers are willing to employ them.”

Fire & Ice Walk – Sign up now!

Fire & Ice Walk

Conquer your fears and experience the ultimate challenge of crossing hot coals and broken glass barefoot in our sponsored Fire & Ice Walk

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018


£25 registration fee (non-refundable) – includes a voucher for one drink at Aveika

Plus raise what you can in sponsorship

You must be 18 years or over to participate in this event

Sign up now: