CEO Blog: January 2019

It is a year to the day that I first took up my post at Orchard Vale Trust and as I drove to work today I reflected on the past 12 months.

As always my drive across the Mendips was beautiful, today saw a bright frosty morning which had all the crispness and freshness that you could ask for at the beginning of a new year.  Last year my head was full of questions and a sense of stepping into something new, today I was focussed on what needed to happen and also a real sense of excitement about the year to come.

Now Orchard Vale Trust is not the name of an organisation that is new to me, it is about people, their names, their stories, their hopes and their ambitions and 2019 is about ensuring that everyone who is part of the Trust achieves everything that they wish to.

As for our latest Trust news…

East Court now welcomes Julie Lilly as the new Manager and I know that we all wish her every success in this new role. Northcroft will be busy planning their varied range of activities and there is already talk of another sponsored walk following on from the success of last year.  St Chads and Ferndale welcome 3 new members of their staff teams who will no doubt support another exciting year of activity.  In Community and Day Services the gardening team are already planning for the year ahead both in the garden at East Court and the support which is offered to local communities.

For me personally, 2019 is a year when I hope to achieve a personal ambition and run the London Marathon to raise funds for OVT.  My Christmas presents were very much focused on helping me to achieve this goal with new trainers, new running leggings and a FitBit and it is now down to me to ensure that I do the training.

Whatever 2019 holds in store for you, we hope that you have a happy and enjoyable New Year.

CEO Blog: Merry Christmas!

The excitement around Christmas is palpable and everywhere I look Christmas celebrations are underway!  The variety and number of Christmas jumpers that can be seen on a daily basis is awe inspiring in its self and reflects the cheerful atmosphere.

In every one of our homes Christmas celebrations are being organised and Ferndale has already hosted its Christmas dinner which was well received, whilst residents and individuals from Day Services held a carol service in Wookey.  On Friday 14th Northcroft will be enjoying Christmas fayre in abundance and then on December 15th friends, families, residents and staff will come together for a whole trust celebration.

As well as joining together in celebration, there has been a lot going on at Orchard Vale Trust this month.  The group who work in the garden have been busy making wooden reindeer of all sizes, whilst craft groups have been busy making a range of decorations.  At the Orchard Café at Wynford House in Yeovil the services of Tony and his team have been in high demand with Christmas parties and the annual Somerset CCG Santa Run.  We must say a massive thank you to everyone who took part in the Santa Run, Christopher Absolon our Chair of Trustees started the festive runners off, and the proceeds of the race have been kindly donated to Orchard Vale Trust.

The beautiful work that our craft groups produce is now on sale in the Emporium at Crispin Hall in Street, the items have proved very popular and we have had some lovely feedback from customers about the items they have bought.

So as the year draws to a close, we need to both look back and forward. In that spirit we will be saying a fond farewell to Lesley Kent, the manager of East Court, and thanking her for everything that she has done over the years to make East Court the wonderful place that it is.  We also welcome Julie Lilly as the new manager of East Court and wish her well in her new role from January.

From everyone at Orchard Vale Trust, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Orchard Vale Trust November Newsletter

It’s finally here – A glimpse into our world at Orchard Vale Trust

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Orchard Vale Trust November Blog

Orchard Vale Trust has been a hive of activity over the last few weeks!

As with previous years East Court opened to visitors during Somerset Art Weeks and the feedback on the arts and crafts created was extremely positive, with many visitors taking the opportunity to buy one of the many beautiful items created by the individuals who attend the workshops during the year.  There were some new events this year, including refreshments in the marquee on the lawn on the first Saturday of the Art Weeks.

Not to be out done, East Court then hosted a barbecue for residents, families and friends which culminated in a group drumming session with Mendip All Drummers, staff and residents took up the invitation to have a go at the drumming themselves.

3 Northcroft Residents raised over £2,000 completing the Thames Path Challenge which involved walking 14 miles, which is an impressive feat!  The Community Gardening Project has also had considerable success.  The aim of the project is to provide gardening services to those who need some help in the community and whilst there is no charge for the service many of our client were so pleased with the end result that they made a generous donation.  The Gardening Project is also supported by the Wedmore Community Power Co-operative who donated £2,000 to purchase some much-needed equipment.

The charity Life With Arts donated a beautiful new wooden building which now nestles in the wooded area at East Court.  We are currently putting the finishing touches to the decorations before we move in.  The new building provides a space that can be used by individuals and some of our Day Services groups and we would like to say a massive thank you to Life With Arts for the very generous gift.

We are just coming to the end of a bountiful harvest, the apples have been various and plentiful and there were an abundance of pumpkins and squashes – enough for Halloween decorations and some delicious wholesome soups, some of which found there way to the new Orchard Café in Yeovil, which opened at Wynford House at the beginning of October.

We are always pleased to welcome new staff and sorry to say goodbye to those who are moving on and the final note for this month must go to Gerald Andrews who is retiring from Orchard Vale Trust after 27 years – we wish Gerald well with whatever the future holds.

Our Orchard Newsletter!

We have a brand new monthly newsletter called The Orchard News!

Keep up to date with all of our amazing activities, see what our incredible residents and Day Service users are up to, and how we partner with some of the most wonderful businesses in Somerset.

This months edition is the first of many and captures an insight to what this summer held for us.

Download the newsletter here or sign up to our mailing list below to receive a monthly copy!


Inclusion Week

Happy National Inclusion Week! #EverydayInclusion #MotivationMonday

For Inclusion week we will be posting an article a day on how we aim to make the world more inclusive for adults with learning disabilities.

From employment to socialising, adults with learning disabilities face exclusion and isolation. We challenge these barriers and want to make a meaningful contribution to Inclusion Week.

The first half of the year has flown by and OVT has grown…

The first half of 2018 has just flown by and as the temperatures soar and the sun shines the ‘Beast from the East’ seems like a very distant memory!

As an organisation, Orchard Vale Trust has grown and we are delighted to welcome Lisa Pearce as our new Community Outreach Worker. Lisa’s focus is to develop our work in our local communities and the adults with learning disabilities who live in them. The launch of our community gardening services encapsulates all that we are hoping to achieve – two days a week the trust provides a gardening service to members of the community who need our help. The service is led by our very own gardener Mike and some of the adults who have gained their knowledge of gardening working alongside Mike for a number of years. The service is free and fantastic example of adults with learning disabilities supporting the communities in which they live. The initiative has been generously supported by Wedmore Community Power Co-operative and Melhuish and Saunders which has ensured that it has got off to a fantastic start.

However, it is not just the new that makes Orchard Vale Trust the vibrant organisation that it is – some of the more established traditions are also a source of joy. On Friday 15th June, 18 teams from across Somerset had a fantastic day at Kingsdown Golf Club in the annual fundraising event in memory of Toby Charnaud. This was quickly followed by a Barn Dance on 16th June where Orchard Vale Trust received a generous donation from the Allerton Players in addition to a wonderful time being had by all!!

As a Trust we are always looking to extend the partners that we work with and the charity Life With Art has kindly donated a new building in order to allow us to extend the Arts and Crafts Workshops that we offer. In addition to this we are delighted to have been offered a new community art space in Wells. Our local Somerset libraries have also opened their doors to us and over the month we will be launching both IT training and a Book Club for adults with learning disabilities. We are also delighted to launch out monthly cinema club which starts on 1st August at The Roxy in Axbridge.

We are about to launch the Mencap Award which will allows individuals to develop their skills in a range of areas from socialising to volunteering. We are hoping to engage as many people as possible either in gaining the award or providing opportunities in which to take the award. The award signifies our focus on offering a range of accredited courses in order to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that individuals gain.

With the summer holidays in full swing we can only hope that the sun continues to shine and I will end with my congratulations to 2 of our residential homes, St Chads in Midsomer Norton and Ferndale in Shepton Mallet for gaining judgements of ‘Good’ in their most recent CQC inspections and a massive thank you to everyone at the Wookey Hub for a fantastic week of celebrations for Learning Disability Week.


Liz Page, CEO

Orchard Vale Trust.
East Court, Doctors Hill, Wookey, Wells, Somerset. BA5 1AR.

Tel: 01749 671706


Registered Charity No. 326940

Company No. 1946592