• Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Seashell today (Wed, 15th May 2024) to meet with school and college students
  • This is HRH’s second visit to the site, as she previously met with Seashell students back in 2008 when she was The Countess of Wessex
  • The Duchess visited the Bradbury Cycling Centre cycle track, broke ground for work to begin on a new Royal School College, and formerly opened The Moulding Foundation Building, Home to Royal School Manchester

CROWDS gathered to cheer and wave as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Seashell today.

Seashell, which is approaching the end of its bicentenary year, runs a specialist school, college and residential accommodation for young people with the most complex disabilities in the UK.

Her Royal Highness visited Seashell at an exciting time in the organisation’s history – in 2023 it opened its brand new, state-of-the-art Moulding Foundation Building which is now home to Royal School Manchester. And Her Royal Highness was able to break ground for the work to begin on the next phase of transformation – a new building for Royal College Manchester.

Both school and college have been at the Cheadle Hulme site since after the Second World War and many of the buildings were no longer fit for purpose. The new buildings will enable students to achieve their highest potential, with accessibility the number one priority.

Seashell CEO Brandon Leigh said: “It was a delight to host The Duchess of Edinburgh and for her to see the amazing facilities we have here for our students.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve at Seashell, and where we are taking the organisation in future.

“Young people with the most complex disabilities and communication difficulties come to us from across the UK – they deserve the very best and that’s what we’re able to provide, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

“This event has not only made their day – it’s made their year!”

The Duchess started her visit at Seashell’s state-of-the-art residential accommodation on Sir Norman Stoller Way. Sir Norman, who donated the lead gift for the houses back in 2017, was on hand to explain how important residential accommodation of this standard is for those with the most complex disabilities and their families. Her Royal Highness then enjoyed watching students having fun on the adapted accessibility bikes and cycle track at the Bradbury Cycling Centre with Hugh Inman, Bradbury’s UK Representative and Mollie Murphy, Seashell’s Fundraising and Engagement Ambassador and former student. The crowd were then overjoyed when HRH actually tried out a cycle for herself!

Next, Her Royal Highness cut the first sod for building work to commence on the new Royal College Manchester. She stood alongside Ged Mason whose family has pledged the lead gift for the building. Currently college students are using another building on site, but although this has been adapted over the years it still can’t meet the needs of all Seashell’s students.

Seashell is currently in the middle of a £10m fundraising appeal to build the College and have raised £5.7m to date. They need to raise the remainder of the funds by 2025 – so having The Duchess of Edinburgh cut the first sod will no doubt raise awareness of this much-needed project.

Last on the list for the Duchess of Edinburgh was to unveil a plaque to formerly open The Moulding Foundation Building – the new home of Royal School Manchester. The school opened to students and staff last year, but this formal opening will mean Her Royal Highness’ visit becomes part of the school’s history.

One of her many highlights of the day was seeing a music session taking place in the school hall, taking time to meet with some of the young performers afterwards. She was then presented with a few gifts from the students before she made her to the car.

Celebrations continued after the visit with a Garden Party for students, staff and visitors, making Wednesday 15th May 2024 one to remember in Seashell’s history! To find out more about Seashell and make a donation visit www.seashelltrust.org.uk

A SEASHELL supporter will be donning his hiking boots and facing temperatures of minus 22 degrees in an endurance challenge to Everest Base Camp.

Michael Hartig and his fellow hikers will endure temperatures ranging from minus 22 degrees at night to 12 degrees during the day, walking for up to nine hours a day, scaling thousands of feet and having to acclimatise to the lower oxygen levels that come with altitude challenges.

But Michael is determined to complete the 17-day trek to raise funds for a charity he is so passionate about.

“I will be anxious, nervous and without communication so there will be a whole mix of emotions going on,” said Michael. “But knowing that I’m doing it for Seashell will be the thing I remind myself of when things get difficult.”

Michael and his work colleagues have long been supporters of our organization. He is on the appeal board for the Transforming Lives Appeal and has previously done fundraising events for Seashell – though nothing quite as adventurous as this!

“I did the Arctic Circle with my son and I’ve done things like the Yorkshire Three Peaks and Snowdon…but nothing like this.”

Although a background in mountain hikes undoubtedly helps, the real test is managing to stay focused and maintain energy levels while breathing in less oxygen than residents of Cheshire are used to. To help acclimatize, Michael has been wearing a special mask at home, which imitates the type of air he will be breathing as he heads towards base camp.

As well as the pre-event training, the group will also have “acclimatization days” where they hike higher, but then retreat to lower ground to sleep.

As the trek website says: “The Everest region is filled with sheer 8000m Himalayan peaks, ancient monasteries, tales of legendary mountaineers and perhaps even the mythical Yeti. So, trekking in Everest is a mixture of cultural, spiritual and physical experience and we have designed it to be more adventurous and fun adding an overnight stay at Everest base camp.”

So far Michael has raised almost £6,000, with his employers Barclays agreeing to match-fund the first £1,000. But the more he raises, the more we can achieve for our children and young people with complex disabilities. If you’d like to support Michael visit his JustGiving Page.

Last night (Thursday, 21st March 2024) Seashell and National Trust’s joint partnership won an award at the Marketing Cheshire Tourism Awards.

The accolade was in the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award category for the work Quarry Bank Mill has been doing with Seashell and it’s college students to improve accessibility at the much-loved site. It was awarded at the ceremony at Chester Cathedral, which was organised by Marketing Cheshire to recognise excellence and outstanding achievement in the region’s visitor economy.

Connections between Seashell’s Royal College Manchester and the National Trust are well established and many of our students have benefited from the relationship with recreational trips and work experience.

In return, our college has delivered Disability Awareness Training to all Quarry Bank Mill staff, helped improve signage and worked on accessibility developments – with students working as consultants for the National Trust staff.

We’re so proud that Seashell and the National Trust’s work has been recognised in this way. Well done to everyone who made this possible!

Seashell is excited to announce that we are able to offer a series of workshops for parent carers thanks to Slater and Gordon Lawyers.  

The first of these sessions will be delivered by a sleep practitioner and will offer parent carers an introduction into the behavioural approaches to sleep. The session will cover the importance of sleep, the function of sleep and will help with strategies to improve sleep routines for children.  

Slater and Gordon Lawyers were interested in supporting Seashell’s family services.  

Helen Lewis, a Principal Lawyer with the firm, said: “We know how important good sleep routines are for families of children and young adults with autism, multi-sensory impairments and learning disabilities. We’re pleased we can play a part in helping these families and can’t wait to hear how the workshops go.” 

The workshops will be delivered by a sleep practitioner over Zoom, so everyone joining will need a laptop or internet-enabled device.  

The first event is taking place on Friday, 15th March to coincide with World Sleep Day. This is an annual celebration of healthy sleeping patterns and awareness day for sleep disorders.  

Sherann Hillman MBE, Seashell’s Head of Family Services and the National Lead for Children and Families, said: “Sleep can have a huge impact on wellbeing, not just for the child but for the whole family. Research has shown that up 86% of children with additional needs have sleep problems, so it’s really important that we give parents the tools and information to help their child get a good night’s sleep.” 

It’s hoped this workshop is the first of many and more can be offered in future, so please keep an eye on our Events Page for future updates.  

To book your place email familyservices.webinar@seashelltrust.org.uk