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Scarecrow Trail To Go Ahead This August

Club hold Pennyhooks Farm fundraiser.

Shrivenham Football Club is pleased to announce that the charity Scarecrow Trail that we had hoped to hold last season before the Covid-19 pandemic cancelled swathes of events across the country, will now take place between Saturday 15th and Sunday 30th August 2020. We are hoping to hold a social family event on the afternoon of Monday 31st at the club, where the prizes for Trail competition winner and best scarecrow will be announced by club chairman Matt Hirst (who has agreed to dress up as his favourite children’s TV character on the day).

The opening Trail has been designed to only cover the village in order to ensure that those who take part, will be able to walk the route if required.

Speaking to shrivenhamfc.co.uk about the event, Fundraiser Kevin Hegg said: “The club selected Pennyhooks Farm as our chosen charity for 2020, and it was very important to fulfil our commitment to them as they may have missed out otherwise. We wanted to continue our efforts to support the local community through the pandemic and we hope that even more of the community will continue to support us when our season finally starts”

Pennyhooks Farm Trust is a Care Farm which has offered support for children and young adults with complex autism for over 20-years and its students require individual specialist support in an appropriately adapted environment.

They have two main elements which work symbiotically together:

-          A working farm with cattle, donkeys, pigs, goats and hens, and

-          An education day care centre providing accredited work-based training in animal care, horticulture, conservation, woodwork, rural crafts and baking

The students all have significant support needs relating to their condition such as high anxiety, sensory sensitivities, difficulties with communication, movement and social interaction.  Many require one-to-one support to ensure their safety and engagement with the work-based programmes that are offered and students are placed with Pennyhooks because they have struggled to function in other environments, such as college or work.

Pennyhooks was founded by Lydia Otter, a Special Needs Teacher, at the request of the Head of Oxon Autism Services, to provide post-19 education as nothing appropriate existed for these young people and by responding to their need for calm, purposeful work-based activity, the farm has successfully grown, to engage up to 50 young people each week and to support their families and carers.

“Pennyhooks was our first chosen charity, before we adopt a permanent charity partner. With the Covid situation, many of our planned fundraisers had to be cancelled, but we were keen to organise a major event to help raise funds for Pennyhooks.The Scarecrow Trail will be a prefect event aimed at helping raise funds for them,” Kevin continued.

“The theme for our opening Scarecrow Trail will be Children’s TV Characters Past or present as this will give participants a massive canvas to choose from and will ensure families will need younger and older members to participate”.

Speaking about the effect that the lockdown has had on Pennyhooks Farm, Lydia said:  “Because of the Coronavirus, and our students' difficulties with understanding or practicing social distancing,  we have worked hard to adapt and develop into an individualised service, thus maintaining our Charity's ethos and articles of being a 'response to the need of young people with complex autism'. 

“We are very grateful for gifts towards helping us to provide and develop our new service, which parents say is making a huge difference to their children during this very difficult time.

“This include weekly 'safe walks for exercise' to the Farm where possible, accompanied by their parents or carer in an allocated time slot of two hours, for an individual walk around the farm.  Our staff stay always at a safe distance but prepare the route, maps and directions and any small jobs possible out on the farm from pushing a wheelbarrow to collect something.  We found that at the start of lockdown, unfortunately the students had been being shouted at when they tried to take exercise in local parks, because their random movement understandably can alarm the general public.  We contacted our MP for confirmation that this would be a common-sense response to the students need for safer exercise and we are now planning to make a fenced pathway around the farm so that walks can continue easily, with field shelters to stop for snacks and enjoy the views.

"We also send out packs of worksheets and farm photos for all the students to do whilst away from the farm to help them stay busy and involved in farm life and we also created practical activities, for socially distanced time at the farm or sent home such as woodwork, gardening and craft to maintain their practical work skills.

“We’ve also organised online Skype times for some students covering our Wednesday Wildlife Monitoring Group, cooking lessons prepared with families in advance then cooked with teacher and students in the same time slot in their homes.

“We’ve held weekly phone calls with the student's parents to support families during this difficult time and had weekly conversations between students and their individual support workers at the farm to maintain relationships and reduce the sense of loss being experienced by the sudden loss of familiar people and routines in their lives.

“We much look forward to the time when it is possible to invite local people up to the farm again and it would be great if anyone who participates in the Scarecrow Trail would like to donate their more environmentally friendly ones to us after the event so as we could add them to the trail that we are planning at the farm.

“That way they could continue to be enjoyed by our students and visitors during the remainder of the Autumn and not just over the Bank Holiday weekend because we’re really looking forwards to being able to welcome visors back to the farm again.”

Registration for making a Scarecrow is open now, but closes on 24th July in order to give us time to print the maps.  Entrants will be asked to donate a £5 towards the charity upon registration. Initially, email Kevin at: festival@shrivenhamfc.co.uk expressing interest and you will receive a follow up email for registration, number allocation in order that there are no duplications.

Answer sheets with a guide detailing the course of the Trail will be available from 29th July, are priced at £3 each and we will announce where to buy them nearer the date.