2015 - June 2015

Park House Farm Ampleforth Phase 1 completed – 30/06/15

Park House Barn
autism plus

Work on Phase 1 to Park House Barns, on behalf of charity Autism Plus, was completed in June.

Phase 1 included the transformation of a number of early 1930’s derelict farm and outbuildings into a purpose designed chocolate manufacturing unit, workshop and demonstration space which will enable the launch of an innovative social enterprise. It will be staffed and run by industry professionals and a team of co-workers with autism and associated learning disabilities who will be given the opportunity to receive industry-recognised training qualifications, gain work experience, develop skills and move into employment. The buildings and a 5 acre adjoining field were donated to Autism Plus by The Ampleforth Trust, the UK’s largest Benedictine community, with the Charity Bank, an organisation tailored to lending support to social causes, financing the initial phase of the sites transformation.

The scheme included an extensive internal and external renovation including the restructuring of the existing building to ensure stability whilst adhering to strict planning covenants. Where possible work was carried out using the skills of local craftspeople and artisans, including reusing materials wherever possible.

As well as the recent launch of the chocolate social enterprise, Autism Plus have also launched a horticulture enterprise from the adjoining field growing and selling vegetable boxes to local people and businesses including to Ampleforth Abbey and its two schools Ampleforth College and St Martin’s Ampleforth.

The chocolate factory is housed on the first floor of the renovated building and was set up with a range of chocolate equipment donated by Ampleforth Abbey.  It produces quality chocolates aimed at a variety of wholesale and retail markets specialising in bespoke corporate orders, including show stopping masterpieces.   There are also facilities to host chocolate workshops for businesses, groups and members of the public, ranging from 2 hour taster sessions to weekend masterclasses. Andrew Thwaite, Autism Plus’s Head Chocolatier, has an enviable reputation within the industry and was previously Head Chocolatier at York Chocolate Story.

The ground floor of the building incorporates the office space; a relaxation area and a theatre style ‘meet and greet’ area for workshop delegates.

“Henry Boot have helped us create the most amazing working environment.  Their attention to detail in ensuring that the derelict buildings were sympathetically restored is a credit to the onsite team.  They managed to create a state of the art modern ‘ready for purpose’ building whilst retaining many of the original historic features and I was impressed that they all took real pride in their work.  I would have no hesitation in working alongside them again for the development of Phase 2 which we are currently fundraising for”

Janet Jay, Commercial Manager, Autism Plus

For more information contact:

Steve Allen
Business Development Manager