‘special needs in a special place’

The Holly Lodge Centre based in Richmond Park is run totally by volunteers and one paid employee, the Project Manager Dr Pat Ealey, MBE. The Centre provides activities for people of all ages and abilities to help them learn about the natural environment and heritage of Richmond Park while having fun. Seventy per cent of the visiting groups have special needs.

The Centre was officially opened in 1994 and since then it has grown amazingly – a Victorian classroom has been developed as well as a Victorian kitchen garden, A Victorian pharmacy, ‘Mr Philip Palmer Chymist’ was officially opened in January 2011 by our Royal Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra. There is a nature trail, dipping ponds, a picnic area adorned with a colourful mural depicting life in the park and a small stage.

A wide range of activities are available to groups of visitors – pill and powder making, storytelling, a Victorian Dame School, animal habitats, the countryside code, to mention a few. We are currently developing a drug education programme.

The Holly Lodge Centre holds several fundraising events a year but the most important is in November, which this year is a Swinging 60’s Party. The Counterfeit Beatles and a disco will be playing the dance music. A buffet supper will be provided and a 60s quiz, auction and raffle will add to the entertainment.