Why Are We Determined To Make This A Success?

JPC Community Farm is named after Paul and Julie Connaughton’s son,
James Paul Connaughton, now aged 17 years who suffers with hypotonia cerebral palsy.

Our Full Story

From humble beginnings to setting up a charity in the name of her son, Julie's story is one of drive and the compassion that only a determined parent could steer in the right direction. The proud wife of former Police Officer Paul, and mother to two beautiful children Abigail, 24, and James, 17, she boasts a rare trait of selflessness and wants to change things for the better; not only for her son but for other families that require varying levels of respite or residential care. This is the story of how the JPC Community Farm was born and how 23.5 acres of land in Busby will be transformed to make it a reality.

When Abigail was only 7 years old, Julie’s son James was born as they say ‘normal’ but soon after issues occurred resulting in him being placed in an incubator fighting for his life, and he has never stopped fighting since then. Julie’s world took a dramatic turn when James was diagnosed with Hypertonia Cerebral Palsy and the specialist told her that James would never walk or talk and in his own words; “no magic pill or injection will change that”. Julie: “Words I’ll never forget that forged an unfathomable determination in me to prove him wrong and I’ve spent the last 17 years doing exactly that.”

As a family, they rallied together to do everything they could to learn how to give James the best care. In turn, this helped James learn for himself and now at 17 he can help feed, undress and shower himself, things he was told he would never be able to do. As a parent, reaching age 50 more than likely means you sit back and evaluate what you’ll do now the children have flown the nest, but for parents of children diagnosed with additional needs life is somewhat different. Julie and Paul had watched the shocking BBC Panorama Investigation into the Winterbourne View care home, aired in 2011. The distressing scenes evidence that the standard of care offered to vulnerable patients can be of a hugely unacceptable level, depending on the residence.

When they discussed their fears with other parents of special needs children and adults they realised it was something that was of growing concern and for their peace of mind decided to take matters into their own hands. What better way to secure James’ future, and the future of others, by establishing their own independent supported living accommodation with a separate respite facility for James and others like him? Julie: “I believe I have one of the highest skills education can’t buy – being a mum to a child with special needs. A skill shared with many others who strive to be the best they can be for their child.” Now we all know it’s one thing talking about something you really wish could happen and ‘What Dreams May Come’, but to forge those dreams into a reality really does take determination.

Embarking on their biggest challenge to date, Julie and Paul secured a 23.5 acre site in Busby for the JPC Community Farm, have been backwards and forwards with the architects and planning officers more times than they care to remember, but each and every time something has needed to be done they didn’t stop or feel defeated, they ploughed on through. Everything is in now place for the initial phase and as soon as they get the nod, that is where the real work begins. Providing a 5 star (Outstanding) supported living environment for those with additional needs the Farm will promote an interactive, community engaged lifestyle for the residents. Offering initially 15 apartments and a 3 bed shared 3-storey house, with space for future development.

In addition to the independent living aspect there will also be a respite centre for families to take a break and give their child some quality time at a place that caters fully. Not only is Julie at the helm of this ensuring the construction and initial phase teams are in place, she is also about to embark on her Level 5 Diploma in Health and Social Care, to ensure she is fully knowledgeable and that all residents’ needs are met. Julie: “We want to offer residents an indoor and outdoor recreation area, trampoline/rebound therapy, and an equestrian arena for riding for the disabled, a musical horticultural therapy garden, café, day-care, animal petting farm, hydrotherapy pool and much more. The JPC Community Farm will be enriching and educating to the highest standard.

We accept nothing but the best for our own son and want to guarantee that experience for others. We have a saying ‘When just enough isn’t good enough’." Raising funds is not an easy task and there is still a long way to go. Julie & Paul have recently hosted a Motorsports Event and Charity Ball at Wynyard Hall with last September’s Wynyard event raising over £53,000. Paul has completed an incredible Half-Ironman Challenge in July 2017 by swimming 1.2 Miles with James in a dinghy, biking 56 Miles with James on the bike and then running 13.1 Miles with James in a specially adapted wheelchair, this raised a further £6,500.

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