Monday, 13 April 2015

Lifelong memories from Farms for City Children

Readers of this blog will know that Farms for City Children is our charity for 2015. The charity, founded by children’s author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare at Nethercott Farm in Devon in 1976, gives children from urban areas the chance to spend a week living and working on a real farm in the heart of the countryside.

The charity has many fans - namely the thousands (70,000 to be exact!) of children who have benefited from this fantastic experience over the years. Of course the vast majority are now adults, but the memories remain crystal clear, as this testimonial from 40 year old 
David, from Omaha, NE. USA shows:

I am now 40 years old, but when I was 10 and 11 years old, back in 1978 and 1979, I visited Nethercott Farm as a pupil from Chivenor Primary Schoool on Castle Vale in NE Birmingham. The farm school manager was a Mr Morpurgo – I will never forget that name!

To this very day, I have a very vivid and delightful memories of my two week-long visits to Nethercott. I remember watching a sheep being born, ‘mucking-out’ the cow shippen and collecting Kale in freezing cold weather. Wonderful!

I was from a very poor, single parent family; we lived on Castle Vale, a poor, depressed housing estate in NE Birmingham. My wonderful and profound experiences are forever set in my memory. 

I wanted to write to you just to encourage you that the children who visit Nethercott are changed forever; I will never forget my delightful visits and I talk about them to my wife to this day and will talk about them to my children as they grow older.

I now live in Omaha, Nebraska, which is a million miles away from Nethercott and the little village of Iddesleigh, yet, my experiences and all that I learned at Nethercott are still with me today. Keep up the great work! 

Or how about this, from 33 year old Lisa, now a nurse:
I came to Nethercott 22 years ago when I was 11 during my four years at Castle Vale’s Pegasus School in Birmingham. My father’s business had gone bankrupt and we were forced to move from our home into a high rise block of flats on a notoriously poor council estate. The school was great and I remember it for two reasons; the teaching staff encouraging the children to be creative and to realise their potential and the stay at Nethercott Farm.

I wanted you to know the impact my stay with you had on me. There are images, memories and smells that will stay with me forever. Whilst we were there a calf was born and you called it Pegasus after our school.

This trip to Nethercott really promoted my independence. It was the first time I’d had to look after myself.

A couple of years ago I drove my partner nearly mad saying that I wanted to find Nethercott and he drove me around Devon until we found it! Just driving by brought the memories flooding back.

Please keep up the fantastic work. I’m sure you know just how valuable this resource is to Inner City Children but we all deserve to have a pat on the back now and again and to know that what we do really makes a difference.

And finally, this from 36-year-old Claire:

I visited and worked on the farm for a week at a time between 1984 to 1986. I'm 36 now and often talk about my experience to whomever will listen, from visiting the dairy (wheelbarrows full of cow pats), feeding the skin head gang (sheep), tractor rides, grooming and cleaning the stable and my absolute favourite was feeding the calves, I still remember the smell of the sweet milk and putting our hand in their mouth to help them digest. 

These were and will remain the best three weeks over three years of my life.

I would like to thank them for opening their home and hearts to so many of us over the years. I am now a police officer working for the MET just outside London. For me this would not have been possible without the guidance and life experience that I received from Michael.

We hope you'll help us spread the word about this wonderful charity and the excellent work it does. If you’d like to make a donation, visit at any time or you can also make a contribution when you book a holiday through Helpful Holidays.

To find out more visit You can also find them on Twitter and on Facebook.