We are delighted to announce the opening of a Sensory Garden and Children’s Sensory Trail at The Ark.

These exciting projects mean that The Ark’s beautiful natural surroundings are now fully accessible to all babies, children and young people supported by Noah’s Ark, 78% of whom are disabled.

The Sensory Garden is situated immediately outside The Ark’s Atrium and Woodlands (children’s bedrooms) Wing. The new garden will be an interactive, therapeutic social space, designed for everyone; children, their families, as well as Noah’s Ark staff and volunteers. The garden includes plants and flowers with interesting textures, colours, and aromas, as well as sensory instruments. It will provide a stimulating and fun place for children to interact with, and a tranquil, contemplative space for families.

The Children’s Sensory Trail, which is made from recycled rubber tyres, extends 1.2km around The Ark’s 7.5-acre nature reserve, passing around our Butterfly Meadow, Wildlife Ponds and Bluebell Wood, and includes various resting spots dotted around the trail.

Rocco, a four-year old boy supported by Noah’s Ark, has already spent lots of time exploring what the Sensory Garden and Children’s Sensory Trail have to offer. His mum, Kimberley explains what the new facilities mean to Rocco: “It’s so important for any child to experience nature and the outdoors, and Rocco is no different. The new accessible pathway around the nature reserve allows Rocco to do exactly that. It’s not something that he has been able to do before and it’s so exciting for him. When I walked through the nature reserve with Rocco recently, he said to me excitedly: ‘Mum, we’re on a bear hunt… We can’t go over it; we can’t go under it!’ ”

For Hayley Manley, Director of Care at Noah’s Ark, these projects are vital in enabling Noah’s Ark to meet our mission of enabling those we support to enjoy life as children, rather than as patients; as families, not just as carers.

“We are so fortunate to have these beautiful natural surroundings on our doorstep at The Ark. Now, all of the babies, children and young people we support are able to experience nature and the great outdoors in a safe, welcoming and familiar environment. We are beyond thrilled to be able to offer these wonderful facilities to the families we support.”

A huge thank you to those supporters who have generously funded these important projects, and to the charity’s dedicated friend and volunteer Simon Neal for his incredible pro-bono project management, which has been crucial in bringing the projects to fruition for the children and families supported by Noah’s Ark.

If you would like to know more about sponsoring an area of our Children’s Sensory Trail, please email Ella Toll at etoll@noahsarkhospice.org.uk.