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Posted by portugalpress on July 26, 2017
(L to R) Belinda Willis (Centre Algarve manager), Jack Matthews and mother Emma
Apatris 21 members having a whale of a time in the pool
Apatris 21 members having a whale of a time in the pool
(L to R) Laura Smith (Sussex), Malcolm Reeve, Kat Dockery (Birmingham), Natalie Packer (Leicestershire) and David Bartram

Children and staff from the Apatris 21 Association in Faro spent several days enjoying the superb facilities at Centre Algarve (Moncarapacho), Europe’s first centre solely for people with special needs.

The Apatris 21 Association, created by a group of parents and education professionals that supports carriers of Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), had previously visited the centre but this was the first time they had used the well appointed residential facilities.

Also in residence were a group of special needs professionals from the UK. Under the leadership of Malcolm Reeve, Chair of the UK Federation of Leaders in Special Education, four top special needs educators from Leicestershire, Birmingham, Sussex and Buckinghamshire aim to help promote Centre Algarve within special needs schools in the UK and even further afield.

David Bartram OBE, who has advised the governments of Malaysia, Thailand and Seychelles and gave oral evidence at the Public Bill Committee on the Children and Families Bill, was paying his first visit.

Belinda Willis, Manager of Centre Algarve, was on hand to welcome the guests including Jack Matthews and his mother Emma who were paying a return visit.

Seventeen-year-old Jack, who attends the Lancaster Special Needs School in Southend, enjoyed the centre so much last year that his family set about raising funds for Centre Algarve and on August 26 will be holding their second Fun Day at the Rayleigh Lodge Pub in Essex.

Emma said: “We had not had a holiday for four years as it was difficult to find somewhere that Jack was made welcome and felt comfortable. This centre is incredible and thanks to the support we receive from Ember Inns, who own the Rayleigh Lodge, we hope to improve on the £4,000 we raised last year.”

Inspiration behind the Centre Algarve project is Essex businessman Andy Mahoney who last year received the Prime Minister’s ‘Points of Light Award’ in recognition of his vision and dedication.

A great deal of thought and planning has gone into the project which features sensory gardens, tranquil areas, a small zoo including meerkats and aviaries where children can feed the birds, education areas, soft play area, outdoor play area, raised planting areas, picnic spots, swimming pool with hoists, shallow pool for young children and specialist disabled bedrooms with adjoining hygiene rooms and ceiling hoists.



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