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How we help


How we help at Thornage Hall

The Camphill philosophy is that no matter what anyone's outward disability may appear to be, the spirit - the essential core that makes us all human - always remains whole. So everyone is deserving of equal respect and opportunities in life to enable them to fulfil their potential.

Anyone who has been involved with Thornage Hall Independent Living frequently note the exceptional and distinctive essence of our environment.

  • Hewie's Story

    A mothers instinct told Kitty Wallace that all was not as it should be as she approached the end of her pregnancy. On 31st August 1993 she underwent an emergency caesarean section at Queen Charlottes hospital in London. Ten days later Kitty and husband Ben were told that it was unlikely their son would ever walk or talk. Hewie's brain had been starved of oxygen ahead of birth and he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

    On June 2017 Hewie became a tenant at Thornage Hall Independent Living. Born to a farming family he has quickly become very much at home here as the site is built around a 70 acre biodynamic farm, providing many opportunities for tenants and day service users to learn about tending livestock as well as planting, cultivating and harvesting crops.

    The 22 year journey from Queen Charlotte’s to Thornage has been one of both heartache and discovery as the Wallace family have learned to adjust towards and ultimately embrace their diagnosis. ’For the first year of his life the only way Hewie would sleep would be in our arms' says Ben. 'Hewie never gives in, he will only do what he wants to do. Showing him options in a way that makes sense for him is what enables him to make the right decisions for himself'.

    Hewie is the middle son of three children, Alexander was born a year earlier and Lara born three years later. 'Having a third child was obviously a concern but it was a very conscious decision' says Kitty. ‘It was not easy for the other children growing up with a brother who has cerebral palsy but it has given them invaluable life skills. For Hewie his younger sister was a source of motivation; when she took her first steps he copied her.’

    Hewie attended specialist schools in East Sussex where he also boarded, moving to a college in Hertfordshire which focused on developing independent living skills at the age of 19. By the time Hewie was at college the Wallace family had moved back into Kitty’s family home near Hillington in West Norfolk.

    ‘Our greatest worry as parents was how Hewie could live independently without us.’ Says Kitty ‘When he became a tenant at Thornage Hall Independent Living this concern was removed. We now know that Hewie will be supported to live his life, in the way that he wants, completely independently of Ben and I".


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  • Tom's Story

    We were all so excited about our son, Tom, starting at Thornage Hall Day Services.

    Tom had been attending a day service that could no longer meet his needs, and so lockdown gave us all a chance to think about how we wanted to move forward and what opportunities were available to Tom.

    In late summer 2021 Tom started Thornage Hall Day Services five days a week, which after being at home all the time with only the two of us for so long, and having limited things to do, really was a transformative event for Tom. All of our close knit family were so pleased for him.

    It was really gratifying to see Tom settle in so quickly and at last have an opportunity to do meaningful work, take part in varied activities, make new friends and reconnect with some old ones. Tom always kept a close eye on what his friends who are tenants were up to and readily took to the whole ethos of Thornage Hall.

    Throughout the year we continued to chat with Tom about his time at Day Services and how well it was going for him, so we were not totally shocked as, when Autumn 2022 came around Tom casually dropped in that actually, he would quite like to become a tenant and live on site. That way, he said, he could be a full member of the community, have more independence and not have to travel by the taxi every day.

    We were very lucky that a room became available in the Hall and Tom moved in in February 2023.

    It was very strange for us initially as the family home had grown emptier and so quiet. We had had Tom’s company for the last 30-odd years, being a funny, caring, chatty and generally life-loving person.......

    Meanwhile, back at The Hall, Tom settled in very quickly making himself right at home and bringing his chatty man energy with him. Being an outgoing person Tom embraces the opportunities to have a go at most things, both socially and by working hard for his community.

    If there are hiccups, challenges or things Tom needs ongoing support with, then we have found that we can put our heads together with staff to make a plan to support Tom in any particular way. We like to feel that lines of communication are always open and that has been key to Tom’s transition into more independence and allowing us to feel more confident about Tom’s future.

    We are thrilled that Tom has found his place in such a wonderful community in such a very special setting and feel that he will continue to grow, learn and embrace the many positive experiences that Thornage Hall has to offer.


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  • Artúrs' Story

    With the arrival of Artúrs into our life we soon realized that the world as we knew it was never going to be the same; it tested our strengths and weaknesses while we were adjusting to the new circumstances when Artúrs started to show early signs of ASD. His older brother, Mark, was eager for Artúrs to grow up so they could play games together and crack jokes, however, things did not go as expected and most of the days we spent worrying about Artúrs’ future. We all learned new ways to communicate, listen to each other, and, most importantly, cherish and enjoy simple things in life.

    On Christmas Holidays of 2007, our family made a decision to move from Latvia to the United Kingdom. Artúrs began his learning at Sheringham Woodfields School. What then seemed as the biggest challenge was how one teaches a second language to a non-verbal child. We learned along the way that patience, consistency, and intuition were the key components to transition from Latvian to English, additionally, implementing sign language “Sign Along”.

    Later on, Artúrs joined ‘Life Skills’ course at Norwich City College. It helped him gain confidence to be as independent as possible and prepared him for his next step in life - to join a day service community. We consider ourselves to be very lucky for Artúrs to have this opportunity to become a member of the Thornage Hall community. It was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. Of course, we never stop worrying about Artúrs, however, soon we learned there was no need to. More than ever, we see him at home happy and confident, willing to communicate and share newly gained skills with us. He equally enjoys the outdoor and indoor activities where the team of the most patient and caring people offer their knowledge and guidance fulfilling Artúrs with a purpose that elevates his quality of life to another level.

    Today, Artúrs is 21 years old young man living in Norfolk with his loving family, aiding him with support and helping him through his journey of independence. Over the years, Artúrs has shown his personality and character everywhere he goes earning himself the nickname Giggly Boy. Smile is his secret weapon and often manages to outsmart others, his older brother especially. Despite being an extremely observant and intelligent young man, he is still learning to understand social cues and be aware of his strengths and surroundings. However, we could not be happier and prouder of Artúrs’ achievements.

    A short film ( was made by his brother Mark during the 2020 lockdown and was considered to be nominated for several awards. The film follows Artúrs’ interest in his life, daily routines, and hobbies through the use of colours. Artúrs continues his hobbies at Thornage Hall.


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  • Atarah's Story

    "I have been coming to Thornage since October 2022. This is the first day service I have ever been to. Since leaving Easton College I volunteered on a Friday at the EACH charity shop in Dereham, before deciding to leave. Otherwise I was at home with my mum. We did crafts together and I helped with jobs around the house, but I wanted to do something more for me that would be interesting and mean I could learn and gain skills, and more importantly make new friends! I enjoyed spending time at home, but I wasn’t able to meet people like me who might become friends and I was feeling sad. Mum suggested that a day service could be a good thing to try; that there would be people like me that could become friends. 

    I can remember the day I came and looked round Thornage with mum. Mary-Ann gave us a tour and showed us round all the workshops. There were a lot of people doing lots of different things, and they all looked like they were enjoying themselves. Everyone was friendly and said hello, but I wasn’t sure whether I could fit in. Mum though and Mary-Ann, managed to persuade me that I could have a taster day to see if I liked it. I was very nervous to start with, and it did take me a little while to have the courage to come. I started doing two days per week, but soon realised that I wanted to do more. I grew in confidence and started to make friends. Fast forward 18 months, and I now feel comfortable enough to support other people who also come to Thornage. I now really enjoy lots of different workshops each week where I mix with others, learn new skills and get to experience lots of things that I wouldn’t have done if I was just at home with Mum.

    I am a lot more confident now I come to Thornage. I am more cheerful and not as nervous or as shy. I am able to take part in horse riding – which I love! – And have learnt new sports like archery – which I’m really good at! – Plus learning to make things in woodwork and textiles.

    I wanted to find a day service that I could come to, but also to think about being more independent and moving out of home at some point". 


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