Royal College Manchester’s signing choir celebrated a milestone last month as they took centre stage at the launch of the Christmas Light Trail at Dunham Massey. Their stellar performance left a lasting impact on the audience as they sang along and signed to some Christmas favourites, including ‘Silent Night’, ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’.

The students had been preparing for the event for the past couple of months, getting ready to perform in front of their friends, family, Seashell staff and a host of VIP guests.

Nikki Brown, Job Coach said “The students were amazing! They really captivated the audience, giving shout outs to people they knew and getting everyone into the festive spirit. We all felt extremely proud.”

The Access to Employment Pathway at Royal College Manchester have been fostering a meaningful partnership with the National Trust for the past couple of years. This collaboration has seen students participating in valuable work experience opportunities, at Quarry Bank Mill and Tatton Park, while Seashell’s dedicated staff have delivered impactful disability awareness training. The result of this collective effort has now resulted in a well-deserved nomination for the Quarry Bank Mill in the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award.

The recognition comes as a testament to the positive impact of the collaboration between Seashell and the National Trust. By creating opportunities for students with complex disabilities to engage with the community and contribute meaningfully, both organisations are breaking barriers and promoting inclusivity.

Seashell continues to champion inclusivity and provide opportunities for individuals with complex disabilities to thrive. The success of the signing choir at Dunham Massey’s Christmas Light’s switch-on is a shining example of our staff’s dedication to empowering the students and creating a more inclusive society.

Over 100 guests from the region’s philanthropic community were invited to join students from Seashell’s Royal College Manchester to the launch of the next phase of the charity’s Transforming Lives Appeal. The event took place at the Moulding Foundation Building, the new £23 million home for Royal School Manchester in Cheadle Hulme, which was unveiled in April this year.

Student Ambassador Isaac, left, supporting Simon Wood and the team.

Seashell´s recently opened Moulding Foundation Building was the centrepiece for the event, where guests heard from Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive, who spoke about how the current college building can no longer meet the needs of the students which are very much more complex now than when it was built in the early 1970s.

The aim is to construct a new college building that offers state of the art facilities including sensory rooms, sport facilities, fitness suites and a community café. The new college will sit alongside the new Royal School Manchester building on the site, where the facilities have had a hugely positive impact on students at the school. The Royal College Manchester is for young adults aged 19-25, with the most complex needs.

L to R. Clare Sefton, College Principal, Mollie Murphy, former student and Gethin Jones, during their Q&A Session.

During the evening, BBC Presenter Gethin Jones interviewed Clare Sefton Principal of Royal College Manchester alongside Molly Murphy aged 21, a former student, who also featured in a short video outlining the campaign. She shared with the audience just how important a new building is for the young people and how it will bring about more opportunities for them. She also touched on what a special place Seashell is and how it really does ‘Transform Lives’. Molly was also delighted to share with the audience that it was her first day of employment at Seashell where she has started a job in the Fundraising and Marketing team as a Fundraising and Engagement Ambassador 

A Royal College Manchester student Issac, aged 22, was on hand to help Simon Wood and his team in the kitchen during the evening. Issac has been a student at Seashell for three years. During his time at Seashell, Issac showed a keen interest in cooking, so Seashell staff encouraged him to take on some tasks within the kitchen at Seashell. This actively helped him to prepare for work beyond college. Today he has a job with Sodexo based at Alderley Park. Issac’s success truly represents what Royal College Manchester sets out to achieve for its young people.

Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive of Seashell.

Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive of Seashell said: “We have been astounded by the generosity of our family of supporters in recent years. Once again we are appealing to them and to new ones to help us build a new college to equip our students with the skills they need to become valued members of their communities when they leave Seashell.”

The discovery of reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete in the original college building’s construction, something the charity had been monitoring closely for two years, has forced the charity to prematurely close the buildings and transfer the students, all of whom have complex learning and physical disabilities, to its old recently vacated 1950s school building.  This had been mothballed following the opening of the award-winning Moulding Foundation Building.

Seashell aims for the new Royal College Manchester building to be open in time for the 2025-26 academic year.  It will boast state-of-the-art classrooms, sensory rooms, multi-purpose spaces, a community cafe run by its students, together with sports facilities and a fitness suite which the public will be able to access.

Watch the CGI flythrough of the College, Admin, Sport and Training (CAST) Building Below

Seashell’s Moulding Foundation Building, sensitively designed by architects, Faulknerbrowns, has won two high commendations at the Education Estates awards.

The awards recognise the best in design and construction of new education facilities across the country, including schools, colleges, and universities. The Moulding Foundation Building is the new home to Royal School Manchester and also offers shared spaces to Royal College Manchester and community users. The building was highly commended in both the ‘School’ and ‘Inclusive Design’ Project of the Year categories.

Seashell, also picked up the award for ‘Client of the Year’, recognising the impact of our unique specialist care and education for some of the country’s most profoundly disabled children and young adults.

Seashell staff receiving the ‘Client of the Year’ award at the Education Estates Awards.

“Parents were consulted in the planning process for the school, which was excellent. It just shows the thought that has gone into it. The Moulding Foundation Building provides an uplifting and inviting environment. There is just so much space. The wide corridors allow students to transition independently and safely from room to room”.

– Jonathan Battye, Seashell Parent

“To be shortlisted in three categories and to come away with one first place and two second place awards is a great result for the whole project team.

” For the Client of the Year award, the judges praised how the extensive stakeholder engagement showed through, so credit must go to the whole stakeholder team. For us though, one of the best things about the evening was meeting more of the Seashell staff and hearing first-hand about ways the new building is helping students and staff tackle some of their many challenges and increase their opportunities. This kind of feedback is really important to us”

– Chris Pugh, Senior Associate | Architect, FAULKNERBROWNS ARCHITECTS

CGI image of the proposed new college building

The Moulding Foundation Building is the second major development to complete as part of Seashell’s Transformation Project. It follows the opening, in 2015, of Sir Norman Stoller Way, a close of 17 news homes for the children and young adults who live at Seashell. The next phase is to fundraise for and build a new college. Our school students are being educated in facilities that are gold standard. Our college students deserve the same.

Stockport based charity, Seashell was proud to welcome the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, David Johnston OBE MP together with the MP for Cheadle, Mary Robinson, to their campus on Wednesday (4 October 2023).

The Minister toured Seashell to discover how the charity transforms the lives of children and young adults with the most complex disabilities in the country.

L to R Mary Robinson MP, David Johnston OBE MP, Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Sherann Hillman MBE, Head of Family Services, Bernie White, Director of Care and Education, Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive, Seashell

During the visit he met staff from one of the residential houses, discovered the specialist facilities available and talked about the person-centred work to support students, and their families who have a residential placement at Seashell. The tour included a visit to the new Moulding Foundation Building, home to Seashell Royal School Manchester, where the Minister met with students and staff. The new building opened in February 2023 and provides the best facilities, equipment and outstanding specialist education and care for children and young adults to develop and progress to their full potential.

David also visited Seashell Royal College Manchester and learned about plans to develop a brand-new, fit-for-purpose facility for the charity’s young adult learners that matches the gold standard provided by the school. As a charity, Seashell relies on private and voluntary funding to support the development of its campus and a £10m fundraising appeal to finance the build is now underway.

L to R Emma Taylor, teacher, Imogen, student, Emma Houldcroft, Headteacher, Seashell Royal School Manchester, David Johnston OBE MP, Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive, Seashell 

Brandon Leigh, Seashell’s Chief Executive said: “David was keen to understand the circumstances faced by children and young adults with the most complex needs and their families and to learn how Seashell is best placed to provide crucial education and care thanks to the highly specialist expertise of our dedicated staff and through critical investment in our facilities and equipment.

“We discussed how Seashell is only one of a few charities that offers support to a small, but growing number of children and young adults with the most complex disabilities in the country. The services and facilities we provide and continue to develop are some of the best in the country, having been co-produced by those with lived experience – an approach which sits at the heart of all that we do.  We shared how keen we are to ensure that the voice of our children, young adults and their families is heard in the development of the SEN agenda, particularly when considering those with the most complex needs.”

Brandon added: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Seashell, and we look forward to consolidating our relationship and continuing to share our expertise with those working with low incidence, highly complex needs.”

Last month Seashell held the Local Pilot Forum on campus in The Moulding Foundation Building.

The Local Pilot is a Sport England funded programme that has brought together local authorities in Greater Manchester to create sustainable change and support people from all backgrounds, ages and abilities to live healthier lifestyles, access activities and get active.

The forum was an opportunity for Stockport to share their learning to other local authorities.

Gemma Lynch, Head of Active from Seashell said,

“The Local Pilot has been a work in progress for the past few years where we have all worked hard to make positive changes to people in our communities. Today has been a great opportunity to take a step back, appreciate all the work we have done, learn from one another and plan for the future. It’s been a privilege to show people around our fantastic new facility.”

There were talks from Life Leisure and Age UK about their work in Brinnington, Active Communities experience (A.C.E), Russ Boaler -Consultant for Physical Education, Sport & Physical Activity, Beyond Empower and Seashell.

Attendee’s were given a tour of Seashell’s new facilities including the Bertie Broome Swimming Pool and Hydrotherapy pool. They even got the chance to take a ride on The Bradbury Cycling Centre! Using a range of inclusive bikes.

Seashell and Insight, a leading solutions and technology organisation based in Manchester have come together to create a two year partnership in which Insight is committed to supporting fundraising and on campus volunteering. 

Darren Hedley, Insight.

“At Insight we encourage our teammates to give back to and be part of the communities we operate in. We support this through providing specially designated Heart Days – time for teammates to volunteer for different causes, and through regional partnerships with charities like the Seashell Trust. 

I’m so proud that we’re partnering with Seashell , supporting their important work of providing resources and care to children and young adults with learning disabilities. We have already hosted the Trust at our Manchester office to raise engagement amongst our teammates and to drive wider awareness of their important work. Our teammates have already shown great enthusiasm for this charity through their fundraising efforts and support and I’m excited to see what we can continue to achieve over the next two years.” 

This will be a fantastic collaboration in which Seashell will gain valued supporters and provide exciting volunteering opportunities.  

Lorna Thompson, Events Fundraiser at Seashell.  

“It was great to have the opportunity to be welcomed to the Insight offices in Spinningfields. The team are really excited to get started and so engaged with our charity already, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this partnership” 

There are so many ways to support our charity and see the fantastic care and education we provide to children and young adults with the most complex disabilities.  

Rachael Lomax, Insight.

“I was delighted when Seashell was voted through as our chosen charity for Manchester – having seen first-hand the work that they do, it’s inspiring to know the difference Insight can make through our partnership over the next two years.  Seashell’s values align closely with Insight’s and I know many of our teammates are excited to support the charity, whether that be through fundraising, using our Heart Days to volunteer or taking part in the many events Seashell have planned. 

We’ve already had a number of teammates visit Seashell, and they have been so moved by the work done and inspired by the children and young adults that Seashell support, that we are really looking forward to seeing how much we can raise to help Seashell continue their vital work. It really is an awe-inspiring place!” 

Insight UK Leadership Team are already scheduled to volunteer at our inclusive holiday club, CADS on 23rd August and are working with Seashell’s Fundraising Department to plan their own Golf Day to raise funds! 

Brandon Leigh, Seashell CEO, receives the commemorate key from Moulding Foundation trustees, Jodie Moulding (centre) and Angela Richards (left)

Seashell Trust, a charity providing education and residential care for children and young adults with profound and multiple learning difficulties, officially opened the new £23 million Moulding Foundation Building yesterday in front of over 130 patrons and supporters at its campus in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Sir Warren Smith, Seashell President and Brandon Leigh, Seashell CEO, unveiled the new facility for Royal School Manchester, 200 years on from the charity’s creation in Manchester by local merchants Robert Phillips and William Bateman in 1823.

Sir Warren Smith, Seashell President and former Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, welcomes guests

A successful fundraising appeal for the new building saw the charity raise over £11.5 million from private donors, grant-making trusts and local companies.  The remainder was raised from the sale of a portion of the charity’s farmland.

Jodie Moulding said: “The Moulding Foundation’s belief is that everyone should have access to the resources and environment that will enable them to work hard and succeed in education. We want to help support the most vulnerable in society and enable people and communities to achieve their full potential.

“We have supported Seashell for a number of years as we believe it is truly making a huge difference to the lives of many families across the UK.

“Royal School Manchester is a world-class facility for children with complex needs and we are proud to have The Moulding Foundation name associated with it. It’s right here in Greater Manchester, showing the world how it’s done.”

Emma Houldcroft, Headteacher of Royal School Manchester, said, “The new building will enable us to offer an enhanced curriculum which will greatly extend the opportunities we provide for these extremely vulnerable children and young people.”

The Moulding Foundation was joined on the evening by key patrons of the charity from across Greater Manchester’s business and philanthropic community, including the Mason family, the Zochonis Charitable Trust, the Mulchand Foundation and Michael Josephson MBE. Many of the supporters, both individuals and businesses, have had the honour of a classroom or facility named after them within the new building.

Guests were shown the new state of the art facility and also heard about the charity’s next phase. It is set to embark on a fundraising campaign to create a new building for Royal College Manchester on the campus that will provide specialist education to students aged 19 to 25 as well as new training facilities for staff and additional community sports facilities. The existing aging building, despite numerous adaptations over the years, now presents many challenges for the current student population.

Gethin Jones, TV Presenter and Mollie Murphy, Seashell Student Ambassador

Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive of Seashell, said, “We have already been told that the Moulding Foundation Building will set the gold standard for special schools in the UK.  Outside school hours we plan to use the building to host national conferences and training events.

“We are now committed to delivering the next phase and replicating the quality of Royal School Manchester with Royal College Manchester on this campus in the very near future.”

Rebecca Adlington OBE, Olympic Gold Medallist Swimmer at the Bertie Broome Swimming Pool in the new school building

About the Moulding Foundation Building

The Moulding Foundation Building is the new home for Royal School Manchester, together with a wing that will house facilities to be shared with its specialist college, Royal College Manchester.  These include an assembly hall for 200 people with retractable seating, a dining hall with both group and individual dining spaces, an assessment suite with a high-tech audiology suite and a swimming centre comprising a learner pool with a rise-and-fall floor and an interactive hydrotherapy pool. 

Designed by Newcastle-based architects, FaulknerBrowns, the building utilises a series of light-gatherers on the roof to provide indirect sunlight for the classrooms.  Every part of the building has been acoustically designed in such a way to ensure little or no reverberation.  Where it be individual classrooms or the large assembly and dining halls the needs of students with a hearing impairment or autistic spectrum disorders has been considered. 

34 hoists in classrooms and shared spaces will ensure every student can access every space.  8 different sensory rooms, light stimulation rooms and low arousal rooms will be available to the teachers and learning support assistants to meet the needs of the students.

In January 2023 Royal School Manchester was judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted (the office for standards in education) for the third consecutive occasion. The inspectors described the school as ‘an exciting and inspiring place to learn’ and the quality of its leadership as ‘outstanding…supported by a highly effective, knowledgeable and experienced governing body’

Find out more about Royal School Manchester

Find out more about our campus transformation