Seashell Conquer The Yorkshire Three Peaks

It was 6 am start on quite a warm and dry Friday morning in May. Nearly 90 Seashell supporters gathered at Chapel-le-Dale to receive their safety briefing ready for the day ahead.

By 6.45 am all teams had set off to climb the 723m to reach the first summit of Ingleborough.

Walkers were greeted by the Seashell fundraising team at the first refreshment stop in Horton-in-Ribblesdale to refuel (and pop to the loo!) Lots of smiling faces passed on by, encouraged by their mountain leader to keep moving.

#TeamSeashell set off in good spirits to conquer the 445m climb up the next mountain Pen-y-Ghent. As many reached the summit or were on their descent the weather took a turn for the worst. The temperature dropped, the wind picked up and the rain began to fall.

The next refreshment stop saw everyone reaching into their backpacks to drag out the waterproofs. Plasters were being applied to blisters and a smiley face was replaced with more of a grimace, but still determined. Hopefully the warm cups of tea and coffee being served helped a little?

Only 7 miles to go the now wet and tired but driven group walked over the Ribblehead Viaduct. Up an ascent of 694m and over the third peak Whernside, before completing the long awaited final ‘run in’. We did see some end with a sprint finish.

The smiling faces returned, overjoyed that they had finished their journey covering 25 miles (approximately 65,000 steps) and all under 11 ½ hours!

Job done!

Steve from Three Peaks Challenges commended the whole team for showing great strength of character to complete the walk in tricky conditions and rapid time. He also commented that in all his 19 years he has never had such a large group of supporters taking on this challenge all from one charity. This success is all down to our supporters!

Mark Ascroft, Director of Finance & Strategy and fellow participant – “Thank you to the individuals and companies who supported this event so fully, the fundraising team at the Trust who organised it so well, and all the guides who kept us all safe and motivated on the mountains (its official they’re not hills!) but most of all, to all of you for your

The challenge in total raised….


Click here to a video of highlights from the day.

Funds raised will help us to provide essential equipment and experiences to the children and young people who we educate and care for at Seashell. We strive to help them learn how to become more independent and live safe, creative and fulfilling lives.

Seashell proudly celebrates its bicentenary in 2023, which has sparked a project with PrintCity to transform the marble busts of founders, William Bateman and Robert Philips into lifelike ‘paintings’.

As part of Seashell’s bicentenary, Trustee, Ed Baines is producing a book that will showcase the journey of Seashell, from a Charity for Deaf Children, to the Trust we know today.

Through his research, Ed has uncovered extraordinary details, from professionals travelling to the school from America, to visits from Queen Victoria. However he soon realised there was a missed opportunity to include images of our founders, William Bateman and Robert Philips. Their marble busts are displayed in Seashell’s boardroom, but no paintings are to be found in the historical archives.

With the help of modern technology and some very generous people at Manchester Metropolitan University, we were able to bring our founders to life. William and Robert’s marble busts took a trip to PrintCity, a digital manufacturing facility based at MMU. The facility has a range of technologies available, including 3D Printers, 3D Scanning and Subtractive Manufacturing equipment. The services are typically available to students, academics, companies and local communities.

 Mark Chester, Product Development Specialist supported Seashell with this project and said:

“When the opportunity arose to collaborate with Seashell, we knew it was a project we needed to support. We 3D scanned the two busts using structured light scanning technology. This enabled us to create a lifelike 3D model of the founder’s faces which were later coloured using 3D modelling software. Enabling Seashell to get a better idea of what the founders looked like and honour everything they setup so many years ago.”

For Deaf Awareness Week 2022, Signing Tutor and Seashell equality and diversity champion, June Battye shared her thoughts and experiences as a Deaf person. This is an important time for Deaf people and Deaf culture, as last month The BSL Bill received Royal Assent, meaning it has become an Act of Parliament. The BSL Act is now part of UK law and British Sign Language is finally a recognised language.


June’s Story

To be ‘deaf’ (small d) is to fit into the medical definition of deafness as something to be cured and eradicated. Being deaf means you have a hearing loss, but you choose or don’t feel able to function within the Deaf Community. You are predominately oral; probably thinking British Sign Language is the devil’s spawn. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but generally deaf people use oral communication. They may have a slight knowledge of SSE (sign-supported English) but this does not make them culturally Deaf.

Back in the old days, the powers that be recommended that deaf children be brought up orally; the thinking was that sign language would corrupt our education and prevent us getting a job in later years. This is a view that, unfortunately, still remains even nowadays. If you approach any deaf person and ask them about their hearing loss, they will tell you that they would love to hear “that bit more” – how they feel they miss out on music, radio or other aspects of life. They chose the spoken language and lip-reading rather than learning to sign. They may ignore aspects of the Deaf community and Deaf pride and feel they need to pretending to be hearing.

Deaf – with a capital “D” (and occasionally with capital E, A and F too) – is used to refer to people who are culturally Deaf. These people actively use British Sign Language; they see themselves as being culturally Deaf and part of the Deaf community. I take pride in my visual language and do not see my deafness as a disability. I see Deaf-ness as a ground-breaking cultural achievement that will go down in history. We have campaigned for the recognition of BSL as an official language and for better standards of education for D/deaf children and happy to say on April 28th 2022 this happened.

I consider myself to be culturally Deaf; this is my Deaf Identity. I wear my deafness on my sleeve and consider it to be a major part of my life. I don’t see it as a disability – there is nothing I feel I cannot do – rather, I see it as an important aspect of my character that makes and shapes me. If I were not deaf (I’m referring to both hearing loss and cultural Deafness here) I would not have had the opportunities, I have now. For me, being Deaf means, I aspire to more, I strive to change things – to make things more accessible. That is why I work in the training department at Seashell – I hope to help staff and public to be at a level where they can have a basic conversation with anyone who uses signing. I like to think that this is something I can actively encourage.

I both speak and sign because of my upbringing. I became deaf when I was 7, through meningitis, and attended mainstream school & Deaf school. I am now more or less fluent in BSL (although 70% of my time is speaking as others around be either forget to sign, are not sure how to sign and feel embarrassed they will get it wrong). Which group do I fit into? I can sign, so am I Deaf? I can speak, so am I Hearing? I like to think I’m the bridge between the two worlds.

I have been asked on many occasions whether I would take the opportunity to regain my hearing. My automatic answer is always, “No, of course not!” I love being Deaf, it makes me the wacky, opinionated individual I am today, and I wouldn’t change that (bar wanting to lose a few pounds, but that’s beside the point!)

Hearing people often think of deafness as simply “an inability to hear.” Being Deaf, though, is about more than just whether or not a person can hear—it’s about being part of a community with its own history, values, and culture.

Let’s take a look at some of the more surprising facts about Deaf culture…

Sign Language Isn’t Universal – each country has its own sign language (20% of BSL is known by other countries).

Deaf People Can Be Very Direct – yes we can, but we don’t mean to be direct. What’s the point of saying something if all you think about is will it upset people. Say what you mean then no misunderstanding can happen.

Deaf People can be Better Drivers Than some Hearing People – yes this is true as d/deaf people will watch the road more to know what is happening around them as hearing people will just wait to hear the sound.

Looking At The Face, Not Hands, When Communicating – Hearing people thing we always watch the hand no we don’t we look at your nose and then can see everything your face your lips your body language etc.

Getting Someone’s Attention – Deaf people might tap someone on the shoulder. Or, they might bang or tap on a table so that the vibrations cause everyone at the table to look toward the source of the vibrations.

Deafness can affect a person in three main ways: fewer educational and job opportunities due to impaired communication. Social withdrawal due to reduced access to services and difficulties communicating with others. Emotional problems caused by a drop in self-esteem and confidence.

What life is like for the deaf and hard of hearing has changed significantly in the past half-century. Policy changes and new technologies have provided solutions for many, and yet some hurdles have stayed the same.

June Battye.

Royal School Manchester teacher, Jean Barratt, runs a programme at Seashell, which looks to develop our students’ skills through horticulture. The programme evolves with the seasons, with school holidays providing a demarcation point for Seashell’s students to change: i.e. from sowing seeds in May to harvesting in June and planting in autumn.

The development of students’ skills is the main focus within the horticulture programme and the skills of Jean’s team are boundless.

Jean takes to writing short pieces to truly provide an insight into the activities of the horticulture programme and the key development of Seashell’s students:

Tales from the Greenhouse, February 2022

It has been a while since I have had a chance to sit down and share the activities we have been working on. COVID has proved a merciless opponent for us all both in school and in the wider world and my little corner has been no exception to this. However, in spite of all the doom and gloom I do have cause to celebrate.

In October the fantastic new greenhouse supplied by the Mulchand Foundation arrived.  It has had one or two adaptations made so we can turn wheelchairs; the height of the staging has been set for this purpose plus one or two other tweaks. This means that once the growing season starts our most vulnerable students will be able to work outdoors with me even if the summer proves a rainy one.  This is a tremendous bonus, effectively creating a new classroom and providing continuity of learning for these particular pupils.

Another huge ‘Thank You’ goes to Derek Debelder and the Wilmslow Dean Rotary club who have gifted the students a large amount of gardening tools so we can further hone the skills of my apprentices. This is a particularly useful gift for my team: as I mentioned in a previous article, I have a very high mortality rate with tools.  This is an inevitable part of the process as students learn how to use the tools safely and appropriately and is generally a short lived part of the learning curve, however, it can be expensive!

If any of you are working with your own youngsters on gardening projects at home I would suggest starting with the cheapest plastic/lightweight tools you can find.  Once the handling skills have been established, and the risk of throwing has passed, then it’s worth moving to something more durable.  This is particularly important with the larger implements such as spades.  I have found that many of my autistic students find the heavy work of digging a very calming activity and this needs quality tools to be achieved.

The Christmas term saw us moving indoors and making wreaths.  Last year these were available to families but this year we scaled back a little and used the opportunity to sell across site to staff.  I was greatly impressed by how many of the students had retained their skills from last year and it felt like a real tonic to sit with them all round the big table in the hut surrounded by all the baubles and tinsel. For the first time I sent wreath making materials out to some of the young people supported by our Outreach team and the results were promising.

Given the popularity of door wreaths throughout the year I would highly recommend this activity to any parent of any child whether they are SEN or not.  Pinterest and Youtube will give you lots of ideas using seasonal materials.  A base of wire (old coat-hangers can be bent and used), or twigs bent and tied into a ring; it doesn’t have to be expensive.  An open base of twigs will allow children to push foliage etc into the gaps.  This is a brilliant way of presenting choices of material and promoting the pincer grip.  With the wreaths we make to sell, I limit the choices – pre-selecting a range of textures and colours which will always harmonize.   A walk in any park or garden will yield interesting twiggy shapes to be added or evergreen foliage which will last outdoors for a few weeks.

Our Christmas items are artificial (Family Services have been a great help in helping us out with a supply of beautiful baubles and foliage) and are attached on thin, bendy garden wire – the plastic coated variety from garden centres is soft enough to be safely handled.  This needs some prep work as everything needs to be securely wired ready for attaching – currently only one of my students is able to help me with this part of the process. Once everything is laid out students follow an exemplar but with a distinct tendency to freestyle.  They make selections and have to use both hands to work on the wreath.  This is a particularly difficult thing for many of my students who tend to have a dominant side they prefer to work with.  If you are working with someone who shares this difficulty, sadly there is no magic bullet, just plenty of encouragement and reminders with verbal and physical prompts.

Most of my students are already able to create a simple wreath with the push-in method so we are predominantly working on developing the twisting motion of securing the wired baubles etc.  This is a tricky thing to learn and it may be so for whoever you are supporting.  One tip I can share with you, and which has helped some of my students to understand this process, is to do the action in reverse.  If gripping the wires and twisting is proving too hard, I suggest you hold the wires and allow the child to twist the whole wreath like a steering wheel till they start to feel the tension.  In this way lots of my team have been full participants in the making process rather than being passive observers.  Furthermore, a good number have now recognized the effect of the twisting process and are able to move on to twisting the wires themselves.  This is definitely an activity worth trying as it will provide so many opportunities for a range of visual, verbal and tactile conversations.

With the days lengthening we are feeling a little twitchy in the hut and can’t wait for things to warm up so we can be back in the great outdoors. By the time you read this, my windowsills will be festooned with trays of lobelia and petunia seeds germinating, ready to be pricked out by the students in a few weeks. The winter has undoubtedly been a long hard slog for all of us and adaptability has been the watchword in coping with the chaos COVID has brought to us all.  I would like to flag up the compassion and the resilience of my colleagues, and in particular the Teaching Assistants who are so skilled in supporting the young people and helping them achieve their potential.  With what I hope is the worst of the pandemic behind us I look forward to a bright summer and highly productive gardening season with you all.

Jean Barratt

A fire broke out in the early morning of 26.02.22 on Earl Road .

There are road closures in the surrounding area, including Stanley Road.

Seashell is still accessible to all staff, parents and carers. Please make it known to emergency services at road closure locations if you need access to Seashell.

Traffic is heavier than usual so please plan your travel accordingly.

Thank you to all the firefighters.

Map showing closures and heavy traffic in areas around the industrial estate (Image: Google Maps)



Seashell’s Annual Charity Golf Day returns on Tuesday 6th September.

Taking place at the prestigious Wilmslow Golf Club, boasting one of the oldest clubs in Cheshire.

Start the day right by tucking into a complimentary breakfast within the clubhouse, enjoying panoramic views of the green.

Tee off at midday on the impressive 18-hole course, with a light snack included at the halfway house.

Also provided is a 2-course lunch with an awards ceremony and charity raffle with fantastic prizes to be won

The cost is £500 for a team of four, to book your place, email –

Click here to download the booking form