North East Connected

Farmers’ market boost will be icing on the cake for specialist unit

Northern Dales Farmers’ Market is raising money for the Cleveland Unit Child Development Centre based at James Cook University Hospital.

The centre supports children up to the age of five who have special educational needs and disabilities. One of its former pupils is Mali Williams-Cody, the little girl who melted hearts around the world when a video of her and Santa having a conversation in sign language went viral on the internet.

More than 50 independent food producers including artisan baker Fiona Reid from Crumble & Slice (pictured) are raising money in the weeks leading up to Christmas to help the Cleveland Unit take the youngsters on trips and buy specialist equipment.

The stall-holders making items for a bumper festive food hamper worth more than £100 which will be won by one lucky shopper.

Raffle tickets will be on sale at three of the farmers’ markets during December –Stokesley Farmers’ Market on Saturday, December 3, Stewart Park Frost Fair on Sunday, December 4, and Stokesley Christmas Market onSunday, December 18.

The winning ticket will be drawn at the Stokesley event on December 18 and the proceeds of the ticket sales will be donated to the Cleveland Unit.

Nigel Davison, market manager, said: “When we heard the team at the Cleveland Unit needed help to provide extra Christmas treats for the children they care for we were only too willing to do whatever we could, and we know our customers will feel the same.”

Jennie Kitchen, Cleveland Unit manager, said: “When the farmers’ market offered to help we were thrilled as we know lots of people attend their events.

“We are funded by the council and supported by hospital but rely heavily on charity funding for the lovely extras and fabulous experiences we like to give our children.

“Any donations, no matter how small, go a long way to helping us provide the extras that can make a real difference to the families that use the Cleveland Unit.

“Knowing that such a lot of small local independent food producers and their customers are giving us their support is amazing.”

Stacey Ward’s three-year-old daughter Elsie has autism which causes her to have severe communication problems, including not speaking.

Little Elsie is one of the children who attend the unit where staff, therapists, parents and carers work together to provide a rich and varied experience for all the children.

Mum Stacey said: “The unit is a fantastic place and because all the children who go there have individual challenges they all benefit in different ways.

“As a family we wouldn’t know what to do without it.”

The money raised from the sale of raffle tickets will help cover the cost of a whole host of extras including specialist transport to take the children out on trips and electronic tablets fitted with eye-controlled communication software.

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