Our Patrons

Alan Gardner

Star of the Autistic Gardener (Channel 4)

I really liked the fact that Katie Parlett started a school for autistic children and then proceeded to look beyond that by helping children once they had finished secondary school. It’s about taking the children out into the real world and helping them come into contact with strangers and unfamiliar places.

I’ve only ever come across a few people like Katie, who come up with a fantastic idea and actually decide to act on it. When most people sit down and come up with an idea, they don’t follow it through – she does! She appears to have the ability to make people join in on a journey and she inspires people.

People need to understand that autistic people are not broken computers but different operating systems. We can bring something to a team that no one would have thought of because we can see things from a different perspective. Being autistic is not the problem, it’s just a matter of perspective!

The Hon Edward Lascelles – Director

Harewood Food & Drink Project

I’m honoured to have been asked to be the Patron of the Lighthouse School and have taken great inspiration from learning of their fantastic work. Katie Parlett and her team, and of course all of the students, at the school have been a real source of motivation to me.

I was stunned to hear the figure that only 6% of young people with a learning disability and approximately 15% with an autism spectrum disorder go in to full-time employment after school. This is a truly shocking statistic and one which is totally unacceptable. The school looks at innovative ways to give students a vocation and the key skills to help them with future employment once they leave school.

By forming close links with local and national employers they provide group supported internship opportunities and key work experience for students. They have also developed a number of micro-businesses such as the café “Keeper’s Coffee & Kitchen” in Cookridge and the gardening business “Branching Out” who provide gardening services to local residents.

The Lighthouse Futures Trust charity and the Lighthouse School work to give their students the best chances of finding full-time employment after school. We’re exploring similar opportunities here on the Harewood Estate.

It is key that we continue to raise awareness with potential employers that they can make a real difference by giving these young people the opportunities that they need and deserve.