With a fondness for animals and the countryside and a keen interest in education, The Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed a visit to an inspiring farm which is making a difference to disadvantaged children this week.
The Duchess was visiting a project aimed at helping children from urban areas by letting them experience life on a farm in the West Country farm. Jamie’s Farm is a charity which welcomes groups of up to 10 vulnerable children giving them a chance to escape the strains of inner city life with the aim of improving their self-esteem. The pupils, who spend five days at the farm, learn a variety of skills, from farmyard chores, like mucking out the pigs, to carpentry and felting.
As Her Royal Highness toured the 13th Century farmhouse and barns, she got up close to the farm’s animals, which included a lamb and 11 piglets. The Duchess, dressed in a brown skirt suit and brown suede boots, told Jamie’s Farm founder, Jamie Feilden, she already had some chickens of her own at her Gloucestershire home, Highgrove, but would like to get some for her young grandchildren.
Nestled in the picturesque corner of the Box valley in Wiltshire, The Duchess was visiting to meet teenagers from Burlington Danes Academy in West London who have swapped their classroom to spend time on the farm.
Mr Feilden, 31, carries out much of the Jamie’s Farm’s work with his mother, Tish, a trained psychotherapist, whose farm originally homed the charity before it moved to Hill House Farm. Since starting out in 2006 the family-run charity has seen 900 pupils, from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and locally at Bradford-On-Avon, visit the farm.
One 15-year-old named Rory told The Duchess how visiting the farm had helped him knuckle down at school. “It’s helped me concentrate and the hard manual work you do here teaches you when you go back to school that if you work hard and put the effort in, you’ll get good grades”, he said.
Most of the students are from deprived areas, where anti-social behaviour and low-level crime can be commonplace and they are emotionally fragile and/or at risk of suspension.
The teenagers receive one-to-one and group psychotherapy, and are supported by a team of professional staff which has seen proven results, with more than 80 per cent of children experiencing fewer behavioural incidents and 68 per cent of children no longer considered to be at risk of exclusion one year after the visit.