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Welcome to the Lighthouse Trust website!

One of our pupils at the Lighthouse in Donaghadee

One of our pupils at the Lighthouse in Donaghadee

Welcome to the Lighthouse Trust website!

The Lighthouse Trust provides conductive education to develop the potential of children with cerebral palsy – physically, socially and intellectually.

On our website you can find out a little bit about the work we do, as well as ways you can get involved!

Please take time to browse the site and if you have any queries don’t hesitate to get in touch!

The Lighthouse Trust summerschool play

The Lighthouse Trust summerschool play

Congratulations to Doug Ruddock who ran six marathons in six days for the Lighthouse Trust!

The wonderful Doug Ruddock is back from his epic six marathons in six days in aid of two charities including the Lighthouse Trust and he has taken time out of his busy schedule to share some photographs (©iancorless.com) and words about his experiences. Over to Doug…

The race was really tough but in the same breath it was the experience of a lifetime. I, along with everyone else had to deal with extreme heat during the day, close to zero deg at night, sandstorms, sleep deprivation, starvation, next to no hygiene (didn’t wash for a week as no spare water), primitive ablutions not to mention a brutal environment to compete & race in. Don’t think I’m selling it to you am I 😊 LOL. They may seem like negatives to most but to all those competing that’s why we signed up. It was billed as the ‘Toughest Race on the Planet’ & while it is hard to say it was without having done other extreme races that are also vyiing for that title, I can assure you it was the toughest I have ever done. Believe me I have more than my share of extreme sport 😉. Apart from the satisfaction of completing Marathon des Sables & ‘getting the Tee Shirt’ I made so many friends for life, saw such a wonderful, vast, brutal but beautiful landscape & experienced the ultimate challenge to how far I could push myself physically & mentally. I examined parts of myself in the moments of solitude & pain that I never would have otherwise. Unfortunately, like the rest of life, time has passed since crossing the line, memories are fading, good & bad, blisters & aches are healing, the kilograms lost have returned & issues I thought I had resolved still exist. Is there a lesson I ask myself. Yes. If you have a goal do everything in your power to achieve it but it won’t be the ‘silver bullet’ of life. That will be found in the relationships & friendships you have with special people & not just in the challenges.

Find out more about Doug Ruddock who’s running six marathons in six days for the Lighthouse Trust!

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Find out more about Doug Ruddock, who turned 66 last week and will be running six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert doing the Marathon Des Sables. We all think he’s mad but he is driven, motivated and completed a range of ultra-challenges for charity across the globe and this will be an incredible experience.

Doug is raising money for a children including the Lighthouse Trust Summer School, a cause very close to Doug and his families’ hearts so please give generously at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/douglasruddock1

Q1: What inspired you to run to enter the Marathon Des Sables and run six marathons in six days?

Doug: I decided after many years of challenges such as climbing Kilimanjaro & Ironman NZ that there was maybe one more left in me. I had always used my previous events to try & help children in need through the COCO under Steve Cram’s patronship.

I’d almost entered the Marathon Des Sables in late the 1980’s while living in South Africa but due to circumstance it never came off. I put my name on waiting list for the 2017 race but as it was oversubscribed I only managed to get the 2018 entry.

Q2: Why did you choose the charities you’re giving to?

Doug: It was in & around this time (2017) that my grandson Thomas was diagnosed with cerebral palsy & while it was a huge moment in our family’s journey I did not immediately think of using my efforts to raise awareness & funds. After investigating & seeing the Lighthouse Trust Summer School was a local charity I decided to commit my efforts to raising funds for both charities.

Q3: Can you tell us a bit more about your training?

Doug: I started serious run training about 8 months ago after a long lay off. I ahd still remained fairly fit with triathlon. Now after 30 weeks and approx. 1500 miles (!!) of training I have entered the taper period. This is where I try & let my body recover before leaving for Morocco & the start of the race in just over 2 weeks.

Doug is raising money for a children including the Lighthouse Trust Summer School, a cause very close to Doug and his families’ hearts so please give generously at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/douglasruddock1

Six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert – please donate generously!

Douglas Ruddock sahara desert marathons

Douglas Ruddock is running the Marathon Des Sables – six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert – in aid of two causes close to his heart, thousands of miles from each other but with a common denominator, CHILDREN require my indulgence and your HELP!

One of the causes he is supporting is our own Lighthouse Trust Summer School so please donate generously and share:


Douglas is giving this latest challenge his all and is on target to run more than 1500 miles over the 30 weeks in training, albeit with TMB (too many birthdays!) associated aches and pains before he gets to the start line. Donations will be divided equally between the two registered charities so please donate generously!!

Robin Day’s Open Day Speech, summer 2017

Janice and Nathan with Lighthouse Trust summer school assistants Matt (back) and Robin (right).

Janice and Nathan with Lighthouse Trust summer school assistants Matt (back) and Robin (right).

My name is Robin Guy and I had the pleasure of being the senior assistant for the lighthouse trust for 2017. Here, I hope to provide an overview of the school from a few different perspectives as to what goes on inside.

The first and most important perspective is that of our pupils. Our school strives first and foremost to improve pupil’s mobility. Of course, every child is different, we have pupils from ages 5-25+ each with their own strengths and limitations. Some pupils, for instance, may struggle to communicate verbally, while others are more physically limited. Whatever the level of mobility, our school is flexible in building on pupil’s strengths.

This may involve teaching a child to stand more upright, sit at the table or simply straighten their arms, all enabling them to perform everyday tasks. We are able to see huge differences year to year from our pupils in their abilities that improve their quality of life. We build their confidence to be more independent for activities such as climbing stairs or using the bathroom themselves. These activities are certainly taken for granted by many of us but for children with cerebral palsy, there can be a great difficulty. As well, the physical development of our school provides a safe, nurturing social environment that enables pupils to express themselves free from criticism.

Finally, for our pupils, the school highlights Independent living. This is a core pillar of our program, as it gives the children the opportunity to experience activities like a trip to the shops or an afternoon bowling. This is of great benefit as it allows the pupils to feel capable of simply living like anyone else.

The second perspective is that of the parents. At the Lighthouse parents have valuable access to our expert conductors (specialists in conductive education) about how best to improve their child’s mobility. Unlike a physiotherapy session, our school provides regular exercise and education that allows children to improve at a quicker rate than through one-off sessions. As well as this, the community of parents and pupils are able to pass on insight to one another as to what can work for their child. Not to be overlooked, we also provide parents with some much needed time off and plenty of social outings!

The third perspective is that of our staff. The lighthouse trust is truly a wonderful place to work. Despite only a summer school, staff (who consist mostly of students) are given opportunities to develop their professional skills. This includes experience in special needs childcare, managing others, communication skills through working as a team, and most of all hard work! Our staff are able to use the school and go on and use the skills acquired in the working world, no thanks in part to the wonderful Joan Bruton! Our staff are able to take inspiration from their pupils and improve year on year learning new skills and facing up to new challenges.

The final perspective is that of you the reader. We hope that the Lighthouse, as the name suggests, is able to shine some light into your life. Through our plays, open days and community engagement in Donaghadee the school’s presence is felt by many. We are a charity that hopes to be transparent in what we do and all are welcome to come and join us on the journey of improving the lives of disabled children and young adults.

If you are interested in learning more about the activities of the School I recommend ‘liking’ our Facebook page “The Lighthouse Trust Summer School”.


Thank you for your support,

Robin Guy

Feedback from Summer School parents, 2017

From Enda, father of Oscar: 

Oscar our 3 year old son has had an amazing experience at the lighthouse trust.

His experience of conductive education has progressed his development immensely.

From a personal point of view I witnessed Oscar walking almost unaided for the first time.

This is due to the amazing educators and assistants at the trust.

For many parents seeing their child taking their first independent steps is a truly memorable milestone, as a parent who was told their son would never walk I can tell you was much more than memorable but almost miracle like and quite tearful moment for me.

Been accepted to the lighthouse trust has been life changing for Oscar, myself and Sophia.

I as a father have had thanks to the trust the opportunity to meet other fathers with similar concerns and issues.

This may sound like a small thing but it can be a lonely place been a father of a child with a disability and old friends don’t really know what to say or when to just say nothing at all.

All of the above been said I hope that as a family we can return again next year.

So it’s with great appreciation I say thanks to you, the lighthouse trust, the conductors, the assistants, and Carol.


Enda (very lucky father of Oscar) 

From Alan, Father of Ronan:

The school provides an amazing standard of Conductive Education by a solid team of Internationally sourced Conductors who come back year after year. This is at the heart of the high standard of delivery and I commend you on your ability to attract and retain these high quality practitioners. It says a lot about how the school is run, the friendly inclusive atmosphere and the many achievements and breakthroughs, large and small, that seem to occur each year that keep everyone looking forward to next summer’s program. The team of young assistants also need a mention as these enthusiastic, energetic and able young people make it possible to deliver an unsurpassed staff to child ratio. We benchmark your service on the Petó International centre in Hungary, thought by many to be the centre of excellence for this type of therapy and have attended their summer program as well but our son can’t wait to get to Donaghadee. It’s just a pity it isn’t available for more of the year. In his own words he said this year, after the play, when we were travelling back to Hungary, “I wish I could go to the Lighthouse every day.” He has come a long way in the last few years. Thank you to everyone involved.

Donation from BigRock People Performance Solutions


We’re delighted a generous donation from BigRock People Performance Solutions, which helps help organisations create the culture, clarity and inspiration to succeed.

Becki and Chris from BigRock said:

“We were delighted to be able to make a donation towards the brilliant work you do for the children and their parents and it is hard to believe that you are celebrating your 21st year, such a great achievement. We know from personal experience the difference your summer school makes to peoples lives.”

Team Lighthouse Trust to tackle 7.5km epic hike on Divis Mountain in May!

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Nathan and his Mum, Janice, along with their dogs are co-ordinating Team Lighthouse Trust to walk 7.5kms on Divis Mountain on 21 May as part of the Belfast Hills Walking Festival. The event is being organised by the Northwest Mountain Rescue Team.


As well as being a challenge, this will be a sponsored walk, raising much needed funds for the Lighthouse Trust Summer School.

Janice and Nathan with Lighthouse Trust summer school assistants Matt (back) and Robin (right).

Janice and Nathan with Lighthouse Trust summer school assistants Matt (back) and Robin (right).

Janice and Nathan have already start to train for this strenuous event and the photos show how seriously they are taking it. Was Nathan left in the Café??

Please support Janice, Nathan and all Team Lighthouse Trust by visiting the Lighthouse Trust MyDonate page at or by donating to Nathan’s page (coming soon).

You can follow their training sessions as we will be posting photos of them and of the Lighthouse participants on the day.

Congratulations to Thomas Bruton on his Gold Gaisce!

Thomas in his electric wheelchair.

Thomas in his electric wheelchair.

A big congratulations to Thomas for getting his Gold Presidents Award, which he will get presented to him on Tuesday in Dublin Castle by President Michael D Higgins. 🎉

After being inspired by Alex, one of our assistants at the summer school, who at the time was completing her Duke of Edinburgh award, Thomas went about finding an award similar in the Republic. From then, Thomas has successfully completed all aspects of his award, with commitment, determination and enjoyment, particularly the Sailing course at Carrickfergus Sailability for his Adventure.

Thomas was presented with his gold Gaisce award by President Michael D. Higgins at Dublin Castle on Tuesday 6 December 2016 accompanied by his parents.

Thomas would like to say thanks to all who supported him on his Gaisce journey!!

Thomas receives his gold Gaisce with his parents at Dublin Castle.

Thomas receives his gold Gaisce with his parents at Dublin Castle.