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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher

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April 2017

April 2017

8 Mar 2017

John Simonds was nineteen years old when he died. The John Simonds Trust was set up in his memory. Initially a dream arising out of tragic circumstances, the Trust has now been established at Rushall Farm for thirty years, and is recognised nationally for its services to education in the countryside.

When children come here they cannot “not bother”. As they step off the coach they have to experience the natural and farmed world from sounds and smells, the wind and rain, sheep and cows, stinging nettles and bluebells, and all within an area of poor phone reception. We have a skilled team of trained staff to ensure that learning in this environment is memorable and challenging and can be done safely.

Over this last year David Simonds stepped down as chairman of the trust, having been in the post since the 1986.  Sadly, William Cumber died. He was one of our patrons and was always supportive of the aims of the trust. He and his family generously provided the Manor Farm site and access to the farm and surrounding woodlands. Fellow patron Alan Needham also died.  He was supportive right from the beginning, and as an old soldier was always loyal, dedicated and entirely dependable, and very proud of what the trust has achieved over its short history.

Opportunities for welcoming people onto an estate with a farm and woodlands are increasingly rare in this country. Farmers are generally too preoccupied with day to day management and surviving the difficulties of the present economic climate. Farmer Stephen Waters and his family have been prepared to buck the trend. Today they are providing a unique opportunity at Rushall Farm. This is even more significant and important than ever, as we have a generation growing up with limited understanding of where food comes from and little awareness of the benefits of just being in the great outdoors.

It is with pride that the John Simonds Trust can offer that valuable experience of the countryside to people regardless of age, background, ethnicity, intelligence, physical wellbeing, or the ability to pay. Indeed many, from the youngest to the oldest, find their visit a source of inspiration, encouragement and help with the struggles they are facing in life.

Come and experience the restored Rushall Manor farm site and surrounding woodlands on the Bluebell Walks 22nd/23rd April or 29th/30th April 1st May. All donations to the Reading MS Society.

 

John Bishop