If you follow us closely you might have noticed that The Big Give has come around again, and it has made me think about all the generosity that has made Jamie’s Farm possible, and why it is one of our core values that we try in all ways to live up to. I am thinking back to those early days when we met the first group alighting off a train at Bath station. Curious faces peering out of the carriage in anticipation as the train pulled in and our own butterflies of excitement, the arrival of our first group of inner-city children come down to our small family farm. Jamie and I were trying out an idea, an ideal, and hoping it would work. Friends rallied round generously to help in many ways, time, work, provisions, faith in us! They created the ‘home’ and sense of family. We were blessed with schools with vision sending groups, naïve enthusiasm, and the wonderful positive response of the children to being in the countryside loving working and living as a family together. It was hard work but well rewarded. We were able to see how absorbent and evolving the children were, witnessed their transformation to happier, loving, more open minded, and communicative beings. Thirty groups came to stay, and those children demonstrated the generosity that lay in their spirits. They filled us with hope and confidence that that we could do more.
Two years on from those first visits we had given up our other jobs and put all our eggs in this basket. We were a core team of 5 and I look back and think how much everyone gave of themselves, giving of the whole self, hand, heart and head. From winter days carrying water for frozen troughs, through to painstaking administrative work accounting for what we did and needed to do to become a charity: we supported each other; we cared for each other; we gave to each other and had fun with each other. We had the insight and experience of 300 children, and we set our sights on a permanent home. In a serendipitous conversation, Jamie learnt of Hill House Farm for sale, ten minutes away from our own home and almost perfect for our needs. We met the owner Shirley Gouldstone, who in her wonderful generosity of belief in us, in the welfare of children, refused the offers of developers. She waited for over a year for us to raise the funds, funds that came from loans from friends, family, an ethical bank Triodos; funds that came backed by optimism and belief and the desire to make something good for children possible.
A tapestry woven by generous spirits created the first proper Jamie’s Farm. Children still ask “is it Jamie’s?” and the answer is always no. It is ours, and it is yours – the people who gave to it 10 years ago and the people who give to it today, with help, with time, with money small or large, with belief in us, you and all of us. Reflecting on this history of giving, I wanted to say a heartfelt huge ‘thank you’ to all those who have made what we do possible in such a myriad of ways. Support has come backed by belief, belief that children deserve support, belief that we can do this. Generosity has sent the ripples far and wide; nearly 10 years since leaving the family home we are now on the cusp of launching a fourth farm. Each of the thousands of young Jamie’s Farmers have felt the contagiousness of generosity and it has awakened their own.
Written by Tish Feilden, Founder and Lead Therapist