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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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September 2018

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July 2018

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July 2018

10 Jul 2018

 

 

It is almost 35 years since John Simonds died while driving along Back Lane late one Saturday night. Rushall Manor site was derelict, with a large heap of manure adding to the general air of decay.  Lindsay and I had been here for almost 10 years and had a heart for welcoming people to the countryside. From the moment we set eyes on the farm we were bewitched by its beauty, unaware its difficult sands, clays, gravel tops and flints would make average to poor yields of corn and grass the norm.  John’s death at the age of nineteen was the catalyst for putting something positive into practice.  We owe an incredible debt to the Cumber family who own the farm and gave the John Simonds Trust a 30-year lease on the buildings. Their goodwill and patience allowed joint occupancy of children and people with the sheep, cattle and crops in residence. We are also grateful for the many friends locally who watched, encouraged, supported and gave us direction over the years. To have a vision is simple.  The outworking is long and at times complicated but today we welcome over 14,000 young people on visits and camps each year. We also provide a place you can come and enjoy being here using the facilities, or just taking a walk in the countryside (with no fear of trees falling on your head). Each new day offers the opportunity to all of us here to make a difference in a person’s life.  It is a privilege that we can welcome young people of all backgrounds from the poor to the very rich and of all ethnic and national backgrounds. From 70 pupils from Cardinal Vaughan School, consistently at the top of the national league tables to Brookfest, a gathering of 16-18-year olds from Brookfield Special School enjoying being normal teenagers on a warm June evening. From the five-year-old in recovery from a brain tumour earnestly eating his apple, oblivious of his fellow classmates, just pleased to be alive, to the strong confident group from Bradfield College on weekly community service.

At the end of June we launched “The Friends of the John Simonds Trust” with tea and cakes and talks from Richard Benyon and Andy How.  Both emphasised the enormous scope we have here in making a difference in young people’s lives. If you would like to support this work financially or practically please get in touch with me on john@rushallfarm.org.uk  or 01189744547.

“One person cannot change the world but you can change the world for one person”

John Bishop