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Vranch House is a pioneering special school and therapy centre for Devon children. Vranch House was set up by Charles Vranch as a charity in 1969 and the school opened its doors to pupils for the first time in May 1971.

The centre, on Pinhoe Road in Exeter, now provides clinical outpatient services to hundreds of children a year from across Devon, as well as an Ofsted outstanding-rated specialist school for disabled children aged 2-19 years old.

Vranch House School has always brought together the very best practices in education and therapy and this has culminated into the bespoke ‘Vranch House Individual Education and Wellbeing (VIEW) Curriculum’.

£33,777 grant to Vranch House
Therapy session with three-year-old Leo Jebb

Children attending the centre as outpatients, and those enrolled at the school, can access physiotherapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Music Therapy and Hydrotherapy. These therapeutic approaches form an integral part of the needs-driven approach to education and learning. The school caters for 55 children Exeter and surrounding areas and has over 2000 outpatients accessing clinical services in a year.

This unique charity brings together the best of the voluntary and public sectors to deliver first class services to an important part of our community; children and young people with a wide range of disabilities who deserve the very best we can provide. It is one of the first social enterprises and an example of how children and young people with physical disabilities, members of the public and professional experts can combine to do more together than they could achieve apart.

For that reason, when the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) were approached to fund a mechanical horse and equipment costing £33,777 they responded immediately and gave a grant for the total amount. When visiting Vranch House recently Ian Kingsbury JP. The Head of the Devonshire Freemasons, accompanied by Reuben Ayres the Provincial Charity Steward, saw the new horse in action when it was demonstrated by Rebecca Wheeler and Kirsty Scales who were holding a therapy session with three-year-old Leo Jebb. Leo has suffered a huge number of medical problems in his short life leading to the need for the kind of care Vranch House can give, in only a few sessions on the new horse Leo is showing massive improvement in his development.
Ian Kingsbury said:

If this is the typical of the progress that can be made, the money has been well spent, I have visited many charitable institutions in the ten years I have been head of the Devonshire Freemasons, this is without doubt one of the most impressive programmes I have ever seen, the dedication of the staff is as incredible as the facilities you have available for the children.

When replying Kate Moss said:

We would like to thank the masons very much for their very kind grant to Vranch House which has allowed us to purchase a mechanical horse, hoist and accoutrements, which will enable us to carry out Hippotherapy with our special-school pupils and paediatric outpatients.

We plan to use Hippotherapy (an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that utilises natural equine movement in order to improve children's limb strength and range of movement, core strength, balance, coordination and head control) as an important part of our therapeutic programme when treating our patients with significant physical difficulties.

Hippotherapy provides rhythmic, repetitive and three-dimensional movement through a dynamic base of support. Children are supported on the horse in a controlled manner to execute various positions including sitting astride, side sitting, backwards facing and 4-point kneeling to target different muscle groups and optimize physical function. The Hippotherapy sessions will be led by one of our experienced physiotherapists, but where appropriate the sessions will also involve the patient's Occupational Therapist and Speech and Language Therapist to work on a wide range of physical and communication skills.

Vranch Houses core reason for existing as a school and clinical centre has always been ‘Making the difference’ to children and young people with physical disabilities and their families. With this kind donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and the Devonshire Freemasons we are able to provide a new and exciting therapy to further our journey in making a difference to the children with additional needs of Devon.

W Bro Clive Eden PAGDC
Provincial Grand Communications Officer