I rode my pony here as a child, Duchess of Cornwall reveals on farm visit

Cake ... founders Tish and Jamie Feilden with the Duchess of Cornwall. Image: Sophie Mitchell Photography
Cake ... founders Tish and Jamie Feilden with the Duchess of Cornwall. Image: Sophie Mitchell Photography

Children’s charity Jamie’s Farm, which this year expanded to its fifth farm to support disadvantaged children, welcomed patron the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday (Thursday, May 16), marking the charity’s 10th anniversary.

The Jamie’s Farm therapeutic programme started in the founders’ home in 2009 where mother and son team – Tish and Jamie Feilden – blended Farming, Family and Therapy into a five-day residential for children struggling at school.

The royal visitor meets a lamb. Image: Sophie Mitchell Photography

The royal visitor meets a lamb. Image: Sophie Mitchell Photography

Since then, they have supported more than 6,000 children across their five farms with results showing improved self-esteem, behaviour and engagement at school, and evidence that the intervention reduces the risk of exclusion for the 11-16 year olds who take part.

The Duchess of Cornwall has been patron since 2014, and her visit this week to Allington Farm, between Offham and East Chiltington, was the fourth of the five farms she has been to.

She shared with Jamie that the visit was particularly nostalgic for her, having grown up just a mile away in Plumpton, and revealing that she used to ride her pony through the farm as a child.

The beautiful Sussex farmhouse in Allington Lane will now host 450 children a year who will experience the transformational programme in an idyllic setting at the foot of the rolling South Downs.

Watching craft activities down on the farm. Image: Sophie Mitchell Photography

Watching craft activities down on the farm. Image: Sophie Mitchell Photography

The Duchess was introduced to students from this week’s resident school group, Harris Academy Orprington, who showed her the various activities they were involved with including cooking, gardening, farming and log chopping.

Alongside their teachers, children are immersed into agricultural life with therapeutic support and follow-up sessions back in school.

The charity’s growth to five farms over the last 10 years is a testament to the demand from schools for this unique and powerful intervention.

The royal tour of the house and farmyard ended in a jubilant celebration on the lawn with afternoon tea and the presentation of a birthday cake. Here, in glorious sunshine, Jamie and the Duchess addressed supporters, funders, teachers, Jamie’s Farm staff and benefitting children, who had gathered to mark the special occasion.