Freemasons donate mechanical horse to pioneering school and therapy center

Freemasons in Devon supported a pioneering special school and therapy center for children.

The Masons donated £33,777 to Vranch House which was set up by Charles Vranch as a charity in 1969 and the school first opened to pupils in May 1971.

The centre, on Pinhoe Road in Exeter, now provides outpatient clinical services to hundreds of children a year across Devon, as well as an outstanding Ofsted specialist school for disabled children aged 2-19.

Clive Eden, of Devon Freemasons, said: ‘Vranch House School has always brought together best practice in education and therapy, resulting in the bespoke ‘Vranch House Individual Education and Wellbeing ( VIEW) Curriculum”.



Rebecca Wheeler, Leo Jebb, Kirsty Scales

“Children attending the center on an outpatient basis and those enrolled in school can access physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and hydrotherapy.

“These therapeutic approaches are an integral part of the needs-based approach to education and learning. The school serves 55 children from Exeter and surrounding areas and has over 2000 outpatients accessing clinical services in a year.

“This unique charity brings together the best of the voluntary and public sectors to provide first class service to a significant part of our community; children and young people with a wide range of disabilities who deserve the best we can offer them.

“This is one of the first social enterprises and an example of how children and young people with physical disabilities, members of the public and professional experts can join together to achieve more than they could separately. “

Mr Eden said that was why the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) was approached to fund a mechanical horse and equipment costing £33,777. They responded immediately and awarded a grant for the full amount.



Rebecca Wheeler, Leo Jebb, Kirsty Scales

While visiting Vranch House recently, Ian Kingsbury JP. the leader of the Devonshire Freemasons accompanied by Reuben Ayres, the Provincial Charity Steward, saw the new horse in action when it was demonstrated by Rebecca Wheeler and Kirsty Scales who were holding a therapy session with Leo Jebb, three years.

Leo has suffered from a number of medical issues in his short life which has required the kind of care that Vranch House can provide. In just a few sessions on the new horse, Leo shows a massive improvement in his development.

Ian Kingsbury said: “If that’s the typical progress that can be made, the money has been well spent, I’ve visited many charities in the ten years I’ve been at the helm of the Franks -Masons of Devonshire, this is without doubt one of the most impressive programs I have ever seen, the dedication of the staff is as amazing as the facilities you have for the children.

Kate Moss of Vranch House said: ‘We would like to thank the Masons very much for their very kind grant to Vranch House which enabled us to purchase a mechanical horse, hoist and accessories which will enable us to practice hippotherapy with our students from specialized schools and pediatric outpatients.

“We plan to use hippotherapy (an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that uses the natural movement of horses to improve children’s limb strength and range of motion, core strength, balance, coordination and head control) as an important part of our therapeutic program when treating our patients with significant physical difficulties.



Reuben Ayres, Ian Kingsbury JP, Kate Moss CEO. Vranch house.

“Hippotherapy provides rhythmic, repetitive, three-dimensional movement through a dynamic base of support. Children are supported on the horse in a controlled manner to perform a variety of positions including straddle sit, side sit, rear facing and 4-point kneeling to target different muscle groups and optimize physical function. Hippotherapy sessions will be led by one of our experienced physiotherapists, but where appropriate, sessions will also involve the patient’s occupational therapist and speech therapist to work on a wide range of physical and communication skills.

“Vranch Houses main reason for existing as a school and clinical center has always been to ‘make a difference’ for physically disabled children and young people and their families.” And with this kind donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and Devonshire Freemasons, we are able to provide new and exciting therapy to continue our journey of making a difference for Devon’s children with additional needs.

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