THERE were smiles all round when Mike Dennis, of WE Jameson of Masham, presented Mowbray School, Bedale, with a giant wheelbarrow.

There are 132 children at Mowbray School, all with special needs. This school currently has two and a half acres of land on which it raises chickens, turkeys and some sheep. It also has four pigs and a couple of Shetland ponies as well as sundry other small animals.

The animals are farmed: the turkeys are for Christmas and the pigs provide meat for sale largely to the staff. The eggs are sold and the sheep, two of which won best fat lambs at Masham Sheep Fair recently, are currently for breeding.

The children all take an active part in running the venture. They clean and groom the animals, muck out the sheds and stables, handle the animals and collect the eggs.

The school is an accredited centre for ABC Awards and recently won a Natural England national award at the Great Yorkshire Show with their exhibit from the school’s wildlife section.

Jonathan Tearle, headteacher, said: “We have created Mowbray Children’s and Young People’s Farm here as a business venture. This is, of course, for the education of the children but also as a means of providing proper employment for some of the children when they leave the school.

“The farm, together with the horticultural and forestry aspects and the wildlife section, means that some of the children leave with genuine, nationally recognised agricultural qualifications. We are really excited too, as in January we take over a further six acres of land.”

Mr Dennis said: “What I was really impressed with was that this could so easily have been just a petting farm but that isn’t the case at all. It is a genuine small farm producing marketable goods as well as young people with a knowledge of farming. It is a quite exceptional organisation for Jameson’s to support.”