Chailey Heritage Gets Royal Visit

5 June 2013, 14:57 | Updated: 5 June 2013, 15:20

Chailey Heritage Foundation was delighted to welcome two Royal visitors, their Patron HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, accompanied by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

For a double celebration to mark the centenary of the School Chapel and the opening of the new state-of-the-art Life Skills Centre for young adults aged 19-25.

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, who means so much to the Charity, took over as Patron in 2003 from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and has been a wonderful supporter ever since.  HRH The Duchess of Gloucester unveiled a plaque to commemorate the centenary of St Martin's Chapel.  The Chapel, which was a gift from Mrs Harcourt Rose in memory of her husband, was designed by J.N. Comper and dedicated in 1913.  The Chapel has always been referred to as "the heart of The Heritage".  

Later, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, whose mother Mrs Rosalind Shand volunteered for Chailey Heritage in the 1960s and '70s, formally opened Grace Kimmins House - the brand new Life Skills Centre, part of Futures at Chailey Heritage, the Charity's transition service for young adults aged 19-25.  Trustees and staff are delighted that the doors have finally opened on a massive project that has taken more than 2 years of fundraising and hard work to become a reality. The state-of-the-art Futures Life Skills Centre offers the opportunity to learn and develop life skills in preparation for adulthood to young adults with a physical disability from the local community as well as those who are residents of Futures@Chailey Heritage. It operates on a 'pay as you use' basis.  
Grace Kimmins House is an important listed building and is where Dame Grace Kimmins, the Charity's founder, brought 7 physically disabled children from the East End of London to be educated and receive medical support, back in 1903. The newly refurbished building now houses a range of state-of-the-art facilities for young adults. The Charity's Principal, Sylvia Lamb, said "It is very fitting that we have named the building after our founder, in celebration of the example she set. She recognised a need and then worked to fulfil it, and 110 years on, the work of Futures Life Skills Centre continues her legacy."

Chailey Heritage has always been quick to adapt to changing needs over the years and in recent times it has increasingly specialised in children and young people with very complex needs.  The residential part of the School has become a Children's Home and some pupils now live on site 52 weeks of the year.  In 2011, the Charity extended its provision for young adults with physical disabilities aged 19-25 years, creating a transition service for these youngsters with Futures Accommodation and now the ground-breaking Futures Life Skills Centre.  Working to fill the gap as Dame Grace Kimmins did, nowhere else offers such a choice of facilities and activities in one place to young adults with physical disabilities.

Young adults with disabilities can book sessions in a specially adapted gym, sauna and spa, and can take part in cookery sessions using the 'rise and fall' oven, counter-tops and cupboards and 'talking' appliances. There is also an opportunity for young adults to try out various kitchen appliances to see which ones will give them the best access. The ICT suite has the very latest in accessible technology and there are wheelchair-friendly sessions, including pottery, in the arts & crafts studio.  There is also an accessible salon for such things as hair appointments, manicures and massages.

GK's Café in the Life Skills Centre, a vibrant meeting place for young adults, is also open to the public. The café name bears the initials of the Charity's founder, Dame Grace Kimmins.