Maureen Lipman to open ‘A Perfect Day’, North London’s street festival in aid of children with special needs

The road will be closed to traffic to cater for the wide variety of food, entertainment and boutique stalls along the pavement and within the Swiss Cottage School’s five acre site. The school is one of the best special needs schools in the country rated annually as outstanding by OFSTED and has plans to create a National Centre of Excellence for children with learning difficulties and disabilities on the site.

Actress and comedienne Maureen Lipman, whose daughter was born in Avenue Road, will bring her signature humour to the stage for the opening of the festival. She will join other actors, novelists, children, police and the Kings Troop for ‘A Pied Piper’ parade, a fanfare to mark the opening of the day.

The funfair will include bumper cars, quaser laser, hockey, basketball and football workshops to keep the whole family happy. In addition there will be a classic car parade along the street and the chance to graffiti an old banger. A children’s farm, a dreamland grotto, big hair and face painting areas will add to the fun. The legendary Roundhouse will be hosting a circus workshop – and to top it all a talent concert of fine entertainers sponsored by the Ham & High – all this in aid of children with special needs.

‘There can be no better way of raising the profile of children with special needs in the community,’ comments Maureen Lipman. ‘We are all touched in some way by the lack of provision for children with special needs and I am pleased to support an initiative that addresses this. All children have special needs, some more than others, and I am very pleased to help where I can and support the event and the long term plans of the school’.

Enormous efforts have been made by North London’s community, to help bridge the annual funding gap at the Swiss Cottage School of £270,000. In the longer term, the fund-raising process has a much larger agenda, and that is to create a National Centre of Excellence on the Avenue Road site for children with learning difficulties and disabilities.

This new challenge which aims to bring private enterprise, local and national government, school governors and parents together sets out to bridge the funding gap of £4.7 million pounds to fund the following;

• A training, development and Research Institute, together with UCL
• An Outreach Centre for Therapists
• A flat, life skills training and respite care for families
• A Day Nursery, for staff and the local community.

Currently the Swiss Cottage School is % oversubscribed with 151 children with special needs aged between 4-16 attending the school. Some progress has been made with plans to expand provision for 230 children and also extend the leaving age to 18 but so far the economics of scale have not been addressed. ‘ We aim to set a bench mark for quality education for all children with special needs and this comes at a cost. We are working with Camden Council to address the shortfall and also with the private sector, and we remain hopeful,’ confirms school governor Marsha Lee.

‘These facilities can be built at the same time as the new school, but funding does not cover them. We need to find this money urgently’ confirms Kay Bedford, chief executive and head mistress of the Swiss Cottage School.

Currently, The Swiss Cottage Specialist SEN School has 151 pupils aged between 2-16 years and employs almost 100 staff, plus teams of therapists, nurses and other visiting professionals. All the children attending the school have learning difficulties and additional disabilities, including communication, physical, emotional/behavioural, mental health, and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).

Maureen is currently playing at the Garrick in Stephen Sondheim’s best musical ‘A Little Night Music’ and is working on a second series of Ladies of Letters with Anne Reid for ITV3. Her highly acclaimed roles in Educating Rita, The Pianist and Up the Junction and most recently her parts in Skins and Doctor Who, have brought her a new generation of fans and highlighted the breadth of her talent.

To make a donation please visit: www.justgiving.com/aperfectday2009/

www.aperfectday-london.com

For further information on The National Centre of Excellence please contact:
Marsha Lee on marshanlee@gmail.com

For Press Enquiries please contact:
Vanessa Evans on 020 7603 2857
vanessa@vanessaevans.co.uk