The Penny Meadow story started in 2008 when Jan Johnstone, who at the time was the head of the post 16 department of a local special school, pioneered a house in the community where the emphasis was on Life Skills and Personal development rather than academic achievement. The house in the community proved to be a great success. In 2010, when looking for onward provision for the school leavers, she was disappointed that there did not seem to be any provision that would carry on the work done in this initiative. Jan passionately believed that there was a need for such a provision, It was then that we decided to create a facility that would provide progressive life skills training, enable and facilitate personal development, provide an environment to encourage and cultivate socialization and to offer a respite service that was a friendly home from home. We were very aware that a healthy life style, life and independent living skills, employability and preparation for employment were important qualities to encourage and develop, coupled with high self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence.
After more than 12 months planning and organizing Penny Meadow opened at 67 London Road, Marks Tey in July 2011.
In 2012 Penny Meadow rented some land in Dedham where a small herd of 6 Alpacas, some sheep and three Donkeys were homed. Large animal care became a very popular activity and in 2014 Penny Meadow purchased land of its own in Wakes Colne, just a short drive from our Marks Tey base. This is where our young people gain work experience, learn about large animal care and land management and look after our small flock of sheep, 20+ Alpacas, 4 Donkeys and 2 miniature Shetland ponies.
By 2015 Penny Meadow needed more space and arranged to rent the now defunct Marks Tey Methodist Church, just a very short walk from the house. Here we have a large hall, catering kitchen, student common room and disabled facilities as well as a large grassed area and woodland where we now run forest school activities.