This year has been an extraordinary one for everyone. The Holly Lodge Centre has had to adapt the way our sessions run, including not using any indoor space and sadly none of our volunteer education team. However we are thrilled to have been able to provide a safe and creative place for our visitors, who have benefited even more from getting outside and exploring nature. 

Following a brilliant summer of family activities ,we have just finished a magical few weeks of Christmas Sensory Walks with children and young adults with special educational needs or disabilities. These proved to be really successful, it was so wonderful to see our young visitors enjoying the nature trail with its Christmas additions. Feedback from school staff has been really positive: "We really appreciate all the thought and effort that went into the Christmas Sensory Walk. It gave all our pupils an amazing opportunity to engage with nature and undertake some fun, Christmas themed, activities. The trips to Holly Lodge this week have been a lock-down highlight." 

Usually we would be celebrating the season, with evocative Victorian Christmas workshops in our Victorian classroom. This year we developed our outdoor Christmas walks for school pupils with disabilities. It took a touch of creative imagination but we developed sensory activities included feeling blocks of ice, smelling orange, cloves and cinnamon and touching branches of pine. These all helped the children and young people explore Winter and Christmas on their walk around the trail. They made decorations for their own trees from natural materials as well as decorating a present box. Everyone enjoyed warming up at the end with a hot chocolate, gingerbread biscuit and a dance to Christmas music on our outdoor stage. 

For some children this was the first time they have been on a school trip and others the only trip they have been on this year and teachers told us how valuable it has been for them to have somewhere safe and fun to visit where their pupils can experience a different environment. 

We are planning more Winter walks for January and February time and hope to be able to increase school visitors and welcome back our volunteer team in the Spring and Summer months.  

May we take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and we look forward to bringing you more Highlights from The Holly Lodge Centre in 2021.