Aurora Meldreth Manor School marks 50 years supporting children with complex needs

PUBLISHED: 12:31 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 01 November 2017

Meldreth Manor schoolchildren and staff after the school opened in 1967.

Meldreth Manor schoolchildren and staff after the school opened in 1967.


A Meldreth school for children and young people with complex needs – the first of its kind in the UK – has celebrated its 50th birthday.

The official opening day of Meldreth Manor School.The official opening day of Meldreth Manor School.

Aurora Meldreth Manor caters children with severe learning difficulties as well as physical disabilities, sensory impairments and health needs. It was officially opened to students on October 25, 1967 and the ribbon was cut by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

The school’s future was threatened with closure in 2015, and the fight by parents to keep it open was taken all the way to 10 Downing Street.

A takeover by The Aurora Group saved the site, and the specialist provider now runs the school and its sister residential service Aurora Orchard Manor for young people with similar conditions.

Director of operations Dan Alipaz said: “It’s testament to the original vision of the school that we are still here 50 years later supporting children who often lead incredibly challenging lives.

An old brochure from Meldreth Manor.An old brochure from Meldreth Manor.

“It’s so inspiring to think of all the young people who have come through Meldreth over the years and the benefit they have got from this wonderful school and from Orchard Manor, our transitional service for young adults.”

Under the leadership of the first headteacher George Crabbe, the school provided education for 120 children aged five to 16 who were mainly diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

It was then owned by Spastics Society, which later became Scope, the school consisted of four self-contained houses which each accommodated 30 children. The school and neighbouring residential home are now undergoing a massive renovation to accommodate ever evolving needs.

The redevelopment – which includes a new £1.3 million hub, a hydrotherapy pool and a café – which will be a open to the public and will provide opportunities for the students to work on their social enterprise activities and host community events.

The school was opened by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.The school was opened by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

Improved therapy facilities will provide new speech and language therapies with assistive technology.

Once completed Meldreth Manor will be able to support 40 children in total and Orchard Manor will be home to 30 young adults, where there will also be a new skills centre and eventually 40 more jobs will be created.

Mr Alipaz added: “Aurora wants to say a huge thank you to everyone who has worked with Meldreth over the last half century and for all the support so many people have given, including families, the local community and friends of Meldreth.

“Together you’ve created something very special that has changed the lives of so many people and we are committed to continuing this.”

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