The Acorn Centre is the result of a life long dream and vision to turn this beautiful 17 acres of pasture land into a tranquil haven for visitors to come and enjoy all that the countryside has to offer, in a natural and holistic way.
It was left to me by my late father Bernard Dillon, who farmed the ground as part of an intensive poultry unit, 1958-1988. He was from a working class background, who aspired to be an artist, the war came along and swept him off in another direction. Whilst on leave, he met my mother Barbara Goodsman, a clever and articulate lady from the City, who had been stationed here in Northants for the Land army.
They met across a crowded dance floor in Naseby Village Hall, dancing to the sounds of Glenn Millers in The mood! It was love, passionate enduring, but a volatile relationship. After the war both my parents had a strong desire to get onto the Land and over the next 20 years, whilst holding down a regular job and bringing up four children, began to build their business. Starting with a tiny chicken run in their little garden to by 1979 over 10 000 free range hens and the small holding at Walgrave, Sheldons Lodge, suppling the local community with fresh eggs and poultry.
My family suffered many hardships and tragedies over the ensuing years, but that partnership built a successful business up from nothing but hard work from my parents, elder brothers and sister alike.
On his untimely death after a long fight with cancer, my father was adamant that I should have the ground and one day "Do something good with it"
The thing I will always respect about my parents above all else was their work ethos, self discipline, principles and determination against all odds to succeed.
I hope the Acorn Centre will make him proud.
My vision for the center was also inspired by the untimely death of my sister Jane Dillon whose short life 1954- 1969 (Due to a brain tumor and bone cancer) was enriched at least by her great passion 'The HORSE'.
After suffering a post trauma illness myself, subsequently missing a lot of schooling and losing so much confidence and self esteem in my own young life, the horse became a pivotal part of my growth and learning. They have remained so throughout my life with my aim always being “Bring the horse to the person and all will be well”
In 1984 I founded the East lodge Farm Riding School at Ecton as part of my then husbands family farm diversification project, which I am proud to say my daughter Rebecca did managed. By the year 2002 East Lodge Farm had gone from one brilliant pony, my starting star "Shiney" to a full house of 75 horses and ponies, with a purpose built indoor facility. Although I loved building the business, I always had a particular interest for developing young people particularly those who were struggling with emotional/behavioral issues. I had facilitated many special needs groups working with the local authority and delivering school enhancement programmes as well as training post 16 students for BHS and NVQ qualifications in the Equine sector.
My path changed considerably when I discovered the Equine assisted approach, through a couple of coincidences and meetings I found myself on a voyage of new discovery. Putting myself through some challenging Counseling courses, Mental Health work placements and completing a Equine assisted therapy course with subsequent work experiences, I set up "The Seeds of Change" together with my long time dear friend Rachael Cuss. www.theseedsofchange.co.uk
We formed the organisation that would lead to me finally being able to develop this special site, into a therapeutic and alternative learning centre. The Acorn Centre was born in 2009. The Seeds of Change facilitate all their Northants programmes from the Centre.
From its opening, the Centre has drawn in young people from the educational organisations in Northants as well as Bedford, Milton Keynes and Luton. They have individuals, families and children who have all come through the door and whether they have come to gain accredited qualifications through City and Guilds or simply to undergo some personal development work, my aim has been to provide a nurturing, supportive and relaxing maturate environment.
I very much hope that you will find the Acorn Centre a peaceful and spiritual place to visit. It has been built with love and a desire to put something good back into everyones hearts and minds.