Fundraising for Ukraine at Northern Counties School

On Friday 18th March, as part of Red Nose Day activities, everyone at Northern Counties School decided to do everything they could to raise important funds for Save The Children in aid of refugee children fleeing Ukraine.

Children throughout Northern Counties came together to create different arts and crafts to sell, and all money raised was donated. They made painted candle holders, friendship bracelets, tote bags, and painted hanging decorations. Everyone also enjoyed Ukraine flag tattoos, a delicious bake sale, and a raffle.

Teachers went all out to make it as fun as possible with fantastic activities like a sensory corner and a tumble splatter station with water balloons. You can tell just how much children enjoyed it by how covered they were in mess from the fun!

Please see our full gallery below of everything we got up to!

Rainbow Day – LGBTQ+ History Month

As part of LGBTQ+ History Month, parts of the Foundation took part in Rainbow Day as a way to celebrate and learn.

Northern Counties School took part in rainbow related crafts throughout the day. Students created their own rainbow flags and rainbow tie-dye t-shirts to wear for their fantastic pride march in the afternoon. At the pride march there was music, parachute games and lots of dancing!

Chipchase House got stuck in painting pride flags as well as having an educational presentation in the lounge. Later residents and staff enjoyed a karaoke session honouring some of the great LGBTQ stars!

Take a look at a video roundup of the day at Northern Counties:

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Take a look at the Northern Counties Gallery:

Take a look at the Chipchase Gallery:

It’s Our Birthday!

Percy Hedley School opened 69 years ago today thanks to the ultimate display of parent power.

How did it all start?

Molly & Stephen Darke alongside their child, Stephen Darke

Molly and Stephen Darke were inspirational people.

They campaigned, with other parents, for a school for children with Cerebral Palsy. Back then, the needs of children with Cerebral Palsy were not fully understood and the Foundation’s formation was met with scepticism by many.

Because of the passion, determination and fundraising of the parents, The Percy Hedley Foundation was founded in 1953, as a special school for children with Cerebral Palsy.

HRH, Duchess of Kent, at the official opening day

It’s hard to imagine in today’s world, a time when disabled children couldn’t access education.  In the 1950s, it was not expected that any more could be done for children with Cerebral Palsy beyond what was already being done, but the parents made it their mission to help their children realise their full potential and live life to the full.

We’ve continued with that mission, and over the years we have extended and developed the work we do to make sure children, young people and adults with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities have equal opportunities in life.

A group of early students from 1957

Although our commitment and passion to helping people develop their abilities, live the life they want and be happy, has not changed; We have grown and the expectations of our members, their families and our employees have progressed significantly.

When the first school opened there were only 12 students, but we now support over 650 members and their families each week through residential care, education, and lifelong learning opportunities.

Stephen Darke on his 80th Birthday

Last year, “little” Stephen Darke turned 80 years old, and now lives at Chipchase House.

Who was Percy Hedley?

Percy Hedley

So, who is Percy Hedley? Well, he passed away before the Foundation was formed and was never personally involved in any way with a project that would bear his name. 

Before his passing in 1941, Percy Hedley decided to create a trust – the Percy Hedley Will Trust – to leave all his money to be used for charitable purposes in the North East.

After a chance meeting between the parents who founded the school and Percy Hedley’s solicitor, we became one of three charities to benefit from the trust.

Percy Hedley never knew how his accumulated wealth would benefit so many or that his name would become so well-known in the region!

Footage from a Northumbria Films King’s College Rag Appeal in 1953, of some Percy Hedley students.

Help us celebrate our 70th birthday

We turn 70 next year and we have some big plans!  We would love to hear your stories about the Percy Hedley Foundation. From your time going here, working here, volunteering for us or supporting one of your friends or relatives we would love to hear your memories.

To complete the form, you need a Google account. Alternatively, please email your stories to

Working with Employers – Impact Workwear

As part of Percy Hedley School’s Employability sessions, a group of our 16+ students had a visit to Impact Workwear, hosted by Arjan Piet. Arjan gave important Health and Safety information out to students, including how important protective wear is in the workplace.

Students learnt about machinery in the workplace and how Impact Workwear embroider and heat transfer logos and other text or images onto clothing pieces. As well as how to prep and pack the clothing for customers.

Students were then able to see hats embroidered with a Percy Hedley logo, and were given generous gift bags to take home with their new hats. A number of students opened interesting conversations about health and safety in the workplace and expressed an interest in possible work experience opportunities at Impact Workwear, which Arjan was more than happy to discuss.

We’re very excited about our future partnership with Arjan and Impact Workwear to give our students incredible opportunities to learn and grow.

If you’re an employer that is interested in working with The Percy Hedley Foundation on Employability opportunities for students, please get in touch with Dionne Smith, Employment Liason Officer at

Pip, former PHS student, achieves Learning Disability and Autism Leader status

Pip, who used to attend Percy Hedley School, has taken our motto “Inspire, Beleive, Achieve” to a whole new height.

She has been added to the Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List under Sports, Art & Entertainment for her amazing achievements in rock climbing.

Pip has severe learning and communication difficulties, autism, and cortical visual impairment as a result of the development condition DDX3X syndrome, and has been encouraging more people with learning difficulties to take up rock climbing. The Learning Disabilities category was removed as a para-climbing category in 2018 and what better way to campaign to get it re-instated than to show just how many people with learning disabilities want to do rock climbing.

Pip made a film with Benrigg Trust, to show that rock climbing is a safe and accessible sport for those with Autism and learning difficulties. The film won an award at Genetic Alliance UK. Pip also helped to start a learning disability and autism climbing festival.

Her mum, Clare Millington, got in touch with us to give special thanks to Pip’s PE Teacher, Helen Jackson, who tailored all lessons to each individuals needs and ability and has given Pip something she has been able to take to the next phase of life.

“Pip is now a strong minded, adventurous person. Her enthusiasm for the outdoors is infectious and it’s where she wants to be, as an advocate, a leader and a role model.  She’s a very deserving winner of a spot on the 2021 Leaders’ List.” – Lisa, Care Worker

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African Drums at Percy Hedley School

Students at Percy Hedley School enjoyed a drum workshop with Mark Barfoot. Mark was fantastic at engaging students of all abilities in making music and songs using their imagination to create the rhythm.

Mark has been teaching West African drumming rhythms for 12 years and his drumming methods come from Nansady Keita, a djembefola (master) from the village of Sangbarella in the Republic of Guinea.

The rhythms are played on Djembes – hand drums with goatskins and bass drums.


Take a look at our full image gallery below:

Winter Wonderland at Percy Hedley School

The MOVE programme has recently been implemented at Percy Hedley School and MOVing in a Winter Wonderland is our first Christmas themed event which encompasses the principles of MOVE.

This magical experience has enabled students of all abilities to develop and generalise their social, communication and physical skills – whilst having LOTS OF FESTIVE FUN!

Staff and students across the school have had a great time participating in this event and were also involved with making some of the decorations and activities in the lead up to the Winter Wonderland during their MOVE to Learn sessions.

A huge thank you to our Percy Hedley School MOVE team, with specific thanks to Sophie, Mary, Tina and Nicola who have been the driving force behind this years event.

Another huge thanks also goes to the PTA who funded the majority of resources to create the event.

Check out some videos and images from the festive event below.




Christmas Jumper Day!

On the 3rd December we celebrated Christmas Jumper Day, which was also the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, something we will always celebrate at Percy Hedley!

And what better way to celebrate than wearing your favourite Christmas jumper?! and celebrate we did! Just check out the amazing jumpers we saw in and around the foundation!

It’s not too late to donate.

We are suggesting a small minimum donation of £2 to help us continue delivering our amazing work, but if you can afford more, please feel free to donate a larger amount, we are very grateful for all the donations we receive.

You’re donating to Percy Hedley Christmas Jumper Day 2021 (