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Stories from the past, present and future came together at the launch of the £1 million Agnes Hunt Village fundraising appeal at Derwen College.

The college for young adults with special education needs and disabilities unveiled plans for The Agnes Hunt Village project.

This major fundraising appeal was launched by Derwen College Charity on 7 November 2019. The aim of the project is to update the Gobowen-based supported living bungalow site for young adults with SEND.

The Hardy brothers shared memories of their time living in the bungalows.

The College aims to provide fully accessible bungalows to help students further develop their independent living skills. The plan is to modernise and adapt the properties in The Agnes Hunt Village – a complex of 28 bungalows which were created in the 1950s following a massive fundraising appeal which generated £80,000 (the equivalent of £2million in today’s money).

The plans unveiled at the launch showed guests how the bungalows could look. The concept is that the fully accessible homes will have en-suite bathrooms, open plan living areas and eco-technology to create houses that are as energy efficient as possible.

We were pleased to introduce BBC Radio Shropshire, Border Counties Advertizer and Shropshire Star along to the launch

The College was delighted to welcome back families who had lived in the bungalows when they first opened in 1955. Brothers Bob, David and Andrew Hardy; June Braddick (nee Parry), and David Randle all shared childhood memories of growing up in the trailblazing village which was Dame Agnes Hunt’s legacy.

Modern bungalow living

Three Derwen College students spoke about what living in the Agnes Hunt Village meant to them. Faye Humphries, Sam Innes and Libby Grigg explained how living in the bungalows helped them develop their independent living skills.

Faye said: “I am in my final year at Derwen and have been in the bungalows for over a year. I like learning to live by myself. I do lots of cooking – I make chicken curry, normal and spicy. With a bit of support from staff I can make the rice too. When I leave college I can take care of myself. I will be leaving next year and am going into supported living in Shrewsbury. I will also be working in a Premier Inn, all because of what I have learnt at Derwen College.”

Guests at the event were served canapes by Hospitality and Housekeeping students, and were welcomed by Principal Meryl Green and fundraiser Anna Evans.

Principal Meryl Green spoke to guests about the origin of the Agnes Hunt Village, providing accommodation for people with disabilities.

She said: “We shouldn’t underestimate how radical Dame Agnes’ vision was at the time.”

“After 64 years of constant use, this ambitious project ensures that the bungalows remain fit for purpose for generations to come.”

Anna Evans appealed to visitors to spread the word about the fundraising project. She asked that everyone donate whatever time, money or skills they could afford.

“Tell everyone what we’re doing. We are fundraising but it’s not all about cash. We have a shopping list of requirements and would be grateful for offers of support from anyone who can help.”

The Shopping List includes items such as kitchens, bathrooms, tiles, flooring and carpets, alarms systems and help with outdoor landscaping.