Newburgh charity AppleCast, who support excluded children, young people and adults with special educational needs or disabilities, formally opened their new Eco Centre building and Respite lodges at their site.
Joined by West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper and Wigan Council Leader Cllr David Molyneux, guests gathered at the opening to hear about AppleCast’s continued growth over the years.
The story began in 2006 when Cast North West was founded by Neil Farnworth and then merged with Red Apple Trust, a charity with similar aims, in December 2016 to form AppleCast.
As the charity began to expand it was evident that young people were showing an interest in developing their knowledge and to learn new skills. CAST developed an education package which embedded literacy and numeracy, centred around the sport of angling.
Also present at the opening were funders Act Foundation, Sported, Halsall Foundation and Lancashire Environmental Fund, and trustees from AppleCast.
Joining MP Rosie for the official opening of the Eco Centre was Mrs Christine Jones, whose husband was a founder and trustee of Red Apple Trust. It was Eric Jones’ legal skill and foresight to place conditions on the sale of land from Red Apple’s predecessor TPT that has brought in over a million pounds of much needed finance.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“I met with Neil a few months back to learn about the work of Apple Cast and the plans they have to develop and expand their offering and education to those disadvantaged or not otherwise in education, employment or training.
“It is a remarkable facility and the expansion to now include this Eco Centre continues to grow the opportunities the users here have available to them in building confidence, self-esteem and upskilling themselves. 200 kids a week come here and learn valuable skills which they can take out into the world with them.
“It was a privilege to be asked to come to open the Eco Centre and meet with Mrs Jones and the trustees. I would encourage the local community to make use of the facilities, including the lovely café open to the public.”
Mrs Christine Jones, AppleCast Trustee added:
“It is with great pride that I’m here today to see the official opening of the Apple Cast Eco Centre in memory of Eric recognising the work he did to create the beginnings of what we see here now.
“In 2008 Eric had a dream of setting up a ‘care farm’ – somewhere where adults or young adults from a range of vulnerable groups could spend time in a peaceful environment working with nature; learning horticultural skills and working with animals. Neil and his team have realised Eric’s dream and much more and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Mr Neil Farnworth, Chief Executive of AppleCast said:
“The centre was dedicated in memory of Eric to commemorate what he had done. We would not have got this far without his vision with Red Apple Trust.
“Now we are looking for charities to work in partnership with us to improve the wellbeing of more people and reach more people from the local area.”
Apple Cast provides a variety of activities including working with small farm animals, horticulture, conservation, indoor and outdoor angling, fish breeding, aquaponics, agriculture and bespoke woodwork shops.
For more information, visit www.castnw.net