Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation welcomes the Sussex Snowdrop Trust to a puppetry short course

- One of the College’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations’ community and charity engagement events –

This week West Dean College of Arts and Conservation welcomed members of local charity, the Sussex Snowdrop Trust, to take part in a ‘Puppetry – make a talking puppet’ short course with tutor Isobel Smith. The Trust provides 'Nursing Care at Home' for local children who have a life threatening or terminal illness.    

Chairman and Co-Founder Diana Levantine and volunteers Julie Connor, Carolyn Coles and Jenny Meltzer transformed large soft toys into playful animated puppets using sewing, gluing, painting and sculpting techniques. Isobel also demonstrated techniques to get the puppets talking and singing, with plenty of encouragement to have a go themselves!  

Di Levantine, Chairman and Co-Founder of The Sussex Snowdrop Trust commented: “The Puppetry course was a wonderful way to connect in a creative way with some of our volunteers who contribute so much to the charity. As it was Volunteers Week, it seemed fitting that we should do something special.  The puppets we made, began to have a life of their own as Isobel, our tutor, taught us how to make them real with movements of breathing and speaking.”  

“These bears will join us at our charity events where we can engage with the children we support who have a life threatening or terminal illness such as cystic fibrosis, brain tumours and cancer. The families are supported by our Care at Home Team nurses who help administer medication and perform various procedures when a Snowdrop child is at home - giving medical advice, teaching parents how to manage their child's medicines and treatments, listening to problems and liaising with other Health Professionals.”  

She added: “Each puppet will have a long and happy life on the road at our community events, Snowdrop family parties and our counsellors who provide emotional support, when required, may decide to use them in their sessions. We all enjoyed the course and being in the beautiful surroundings of the college and we thank West Dean College for allowing The Sussex Snowdrop Trust to be part of their 50th anniversary”.  

As Caroline Robinson, Head of Student Recruitment and External Engagement at West Dean College explained: “To celebrate our 50th anniversary, the college is running a range of community and charity engagement events, highlighting the additional wellbeing and social benefits that can be obtained from learning a new skill, meeting like-minded people and enjoying the tranquillity of our beautiful grounds.”

She continued: “We look forward to following the journey of these puppets as they enter out into the community and provide much joy and laughter to the Snowdrop children, families and volunteers!” 

Julie Connor who has volunteered for four years with The Sussex Snowdrop Trust said: “The puppetry course was wonderful!  The tutor, Isobel was so knowledgeable, inspiring and enthusiastic and the soft toys were transformed and came ‘alive’ as the day progressed.  This was a wonderful, fun and productive short course providing an opportunity to learn new skills in the most delightful way.  

“I have been a volunteer for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust for several years and feel privileged to be part of this amazing charity and the team of volunteers. I help at many of the fundraising events held throughout the year and at the monthly ‘book and jigsaw coffee’ mornings.  These events are so important in supporting The Sussex Snowdrop Trust with their ongoing commitment to the Snowdrop children and families, and these amazing puppets will provide a wonderful way of communicating and interacting at future Snowdrop events as I’m sure the children will love engaging with these lovable and cheeky characters. Hopefully the puppets will help to break down communication barriers and bring fun and joy for many years to come.” 

For more details on the short courses available at West Dean, please visit the website.  

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West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is an educational charity whose mission is to provide the highest quality education in arts and conservation. Alongside the academic provision, the College supports an annual programme of residencies designed to provide research and development opportunities to artists and writers whilst enhancing the learning environment of the College. 

  • West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’.
  • The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.  
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London. 

    For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
    Email: rachel.aked@westdean.org.uk
    Telephone: 07790 732448 

    West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ  

    The Sussex Snowdrop Trust is a unique children’s charity which provides vital nursing care at home for local children who have a life-threatening or terminal illness. The Trust is currently supporting approximately 73 families within a 15 mile radius of Chichester. Emotional support is given by counsellors to help families throughout their child’s illness should it be needed. Financial help for families is available whilst coping with the day-to-day problems of caring for a very sick child. 
    The Trust must raise £350,000 a year to continue to fund the Care at Home Team. 

    www.thesussexsnowdroptrust.com   Telephone: 01243 572433.  
    Unit 3 William Booker Yard, The Street, Walberton, West Sussex. BN18 0PF  
    Charity Reg no: 1096622 

Godrey the bear's first outing with Chairman and Co-Founder Di Levantine
Godrey the bear's first outing with Chairman and Co-Founder Di Levantine
The Sussex Heritage Trust's Manor Farm fundraising event with Godfrey the bear.
The Sussex Heritage Trust's Manor Farm fundraising event with Godfrey the bear.
The Sussex Snowdrop Trusts' House of Bears
The Sussex Snowdrop Trusts' House of Bears