Sheffield legend visits Whirlow Hall Farm to help trust celebrate 40th anniversary
Sir Michael Palin paid a special visit to Whirlow Hall Farm Trust last week to help the Sheffield-based charity celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The Sheffield-born Monty Python star, who is a longstanding patron of the charity, was greeted by chief executive Ben Davies and head of education John Gray, as he arrived for the visit on Friday, May 24.
Taking a walk around the grounds, Sir Michael met a handful of staff and volunteers who all give their time to support the charity which has been working with youngsters who struggle to adapt to a normal classroom for over three years.
He also met with some of the children and young people from various primary and secondary schools in Sheffield and Derbyshire who are currently attending the trust’s alternative provision and post-16 students attending Whirlow LIFE (Learning in a Farm Environment).
On his tour of the Learning and Training Centre, hen house, animal handling barn and farm shop, a jovial Sir Michael heard personal stories from the students who shared their own experiences of how the charity has benefited them.
One of the post-16 students also chatted to Sir Michael about his love of climbing.
Sir Michael replied: “The nice thing about Sheffield, as I was born here and grew up here, is that you’ve got not just hills, but small mountains – well not quite mountains – but you do get a feeling of it being an adventurous place to live.
“Whereas in London it is not quite the same, there is far too many people and buildings and everything is a bit squashed. It's great up here to get away and climb.”
Shortly after his tour, Sir Michael was escorted to Michelin listed restaurant Rafters for an intimate lunch with 36 guests from the Sheffield business community.
Sir Michael and the guests enjoyed a seven-course taster menu using Whirlow produce, with each table being given the opportunity to enjoy one course each with their celebrity guest.
Speaking of the visit, Ben Davies, Chief Executive of Whirlow Hall Farm Trust, said: “We are so proud that Sir Michael helped us celebrate our 40th anniversary.
“With everything else he has going on, the fact that he wanted to meet our students and see the benefit they get from the farm shows just how important he feels our work is.
“And with the help of the fantastic folk at Rafter’s, Mitchell’s wine and S6 Photography – and the wonderful supporters that attended the lunch – we were able to raise thousands of pounds to help fund that work. What a terrific day!”