Building a Brighter Future for Young People

January 30, 2024  2:21 pm

Lincolnshire’s highly proactive Gelder Group is on a mission to create an exciting educational facility to inspire children with special needs.

The Sturton by Stow company, whose team is well-known for its efforts to help its community, is causing a buzz with its plans to build a special garden to encourage youngers with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to have fun preparing for a brighter future.

Designs have been drawn up for a large polytunnel containing three raised beds to be constructed on a green area on Gelder’s extensive site. Users will also have access to other inside space and an essential “changing places” toilet will be installed to cater for pupils’ specific needs.

Gelder Group is keen to have the new project up-and-running in March, so it is  busy encouraging businesses and organisations to get on board and make this ambitious project the reality.

To drive momentum, businesses and organisations are being challenged to enter teams for a special quiz night and bumper raffle at Lincoln City Football Club, to run from 6pm to 10pm on February 22.

A celebrity quizmaster will test the gathering of up to 33 tables of four players. Tables will cost £100. Gelder Group is also inviting anyone interested to donate raffle prizes.

Quiz-lovers are already starting to book tables, but Lincoln-based company FixFirm has gone one step further by donating a mix of tools, including a spade, rake, tape  measure, buckets and planting tubs for the new polytunnel!

FixFirm Sales Director Jerry Haughton said:

We are very pleased to support this excellent initiative for the young people of the area.

Gelder Group Chief Executive Officer Steve Gelder said:

Our Group vision centres on Our People, Our Planet and Our Performance and I am passionate about creating opportunities for all young people to develop and grow.

Our latest exciting project has fired the imagination and received the full support of our senior management team.

We are seriously proud that our head office complex includes a 14-acre environmental park. We want to develop this further to help the environment and the community. It is already home to 200,000 bees, a fully stocked lake, a nesting tower used by breeding owls and kestrels, a natural pond which has attracted red crested newts, as well as the Wild in The Wood group which delivers outdoors and bushcraft skills for children aged between two and 15.

We aim to develop the park to offer SEND schools’ pupils the chance to learn gardening skills, boost their self-development and be a pathway to a horticultural career. The idea is to turn this initiative into a structured programme which pupils can use as a stepping stone to achieving independence,  work placements and getting paid.

Gelder Group has discussed the gardening project with Lincolnshire County Council and St Francis and St Christopher’s schools in Lincoln (who are part of Lincoln Saints Federation) and has also agreed discounts with national suppliers.

It has also approached the Gardening with Disabilities Trust for grant funding for the three raised beds to go into the polytunnel and the company is also exploring the possibility of getting local authority discretionary funding.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Employment Project which works with young people, all of whom have additional needs – is hugely supportive of Gelder Group’s project and the company’s aspirations to support “unlimited” working towards paid employment.

SEND Employment Lead is Scott Eley, and Nick Wray – who is assistant headteacher for the St Francis and St Christopher’s Schools – has responsibility for Post 16 education across the two establishments. They have already been in discussions with Gelder and staff at the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme Park campus about the shaping of the bespoke outdoor learning space to ensure it is accessible for their combined registers of more than 350 students.

Nick Wray said:

Gelder’s plans are incredibly exciting. They will provide greater opportunities to develop practical horticultural and outdoor learning skills for all, as well as the wider employability skills that are transferable to many different workplaces.

The onsite training facility will inspire young people to access the world of work and gain the relevant skills that will prepare them for employability in these sectors. Both Scott and I are hugely supportive of this project and we know that Gelder will utilise any funding well to develop this great space.”

Anyone wishing to know more about this project or sign-up a team for the fundraising quiz on February 22, should email

SEND Garden

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