Every Friday morning our team eagerly await the students from Paddock School, a local specialist school for pupils with learning disabilities.

We welcome a group of 6th form students once a week during the spring and summer terms for gardening sessions.  Our fabulous team of volunteers means that students are supported 1:1 or 1:2, this high ratio helps the students with motivation, communication and focus.

Our gardening sessions take place in our beautiful Victorian Kitchen garden which is lovingly cared for by our dedicated and green fingered volunteers. The gardening team led by Mike, Nigel And Sue are always forward thinking and planning so that our students have plenty of jobs to keep them occupied – it’s a hive of activity!

Students take part in an array of activities such as planting seeds, weeding, composting, watering and harvesting the produce. The students learn how to use the equipment safely and responsibly.

We also enjoy going for walks on our nature trail where the students can explore our sensory dipping boxes and keep an eye out for rabbits, frogs, etc. There is always something to see!

Paddock School have their own café on site where students take part in work experience and the produce they harvest from our garden goes back to the school and is used in this café. Therefore, the students really get to see the process of growing their own food, from the earth to the plate. The Paddock School café is open to the public on certain days, please follow this link to find out more:


Victor Exposito, the lead teacher, describes these weekly sessions as being adapted to the students’ needs, really well structured and motivating for them. He tells us of his delight to visit every week and describes our volunteers as incredibly kind, patient and supportive.

In a recent feedback form, Victor wrote: “Our main target in our school is to prepare students for life beyond Paddock. The opportunity of participating in these sessions are a great experience for them and they have gained and improved their skills while working at The Holly Lodge Centre taking part in the gardening sessions. Our students love being outside and completing their jobs. Some students are highly motivated by working on tasks that they would never do at Paddock.”

Victor also commented on the calming atmosphere at the centre, “It is also a great place to forget about technology and just enjoy nature, the company and the birds singing.”  We couldn’t agree more!