Jolly Josh charity group receive keys for new permanent home

Date published: 04 November 2019

Local charity Jolly Josh is set to move to a new permanent home in Castleton, after receiving the keys to its very own venue.

Families, services, businesses, supporters and the Mayor of Rochdale were invited to a special mystery meeting at Ensor Mill on Saturday (2 November), where the thrilling news was announced.

Jolly Josh was started in September 2017 by Carole and James Kelly, of Wardle, after discovering there were no groups for young disabled children in Rochdale.


Josh with his sister, Sophie
Josh with his sister, Sophie


In April 2017, Carole became the full-time carer for her son, Josh, who at the age of six months, was confirmed to have ‘extensive brain damage’ due to the genetic condition Mitochondrial Disease, which causes mutations in mitochondria, vital to every cell in the body.

The toddler stay-and-play sessions were set up with the hope to bring families together, provide peer to peer support, share experiences, and eliminate isolation, especially for children with disabilities and special needs throughout the borough.

Sadly, Josh died on 27 August 2017, just one month before his legacy, Jolly Josh, was due to begin, with sessions taking place at Springside with Hamer Learning Community.


The gathering for the exciting Jolly Josh announcement
The gathering for the exciting Jolly Josh announcement


Now, a little over two years later, the charity is getting its own home, which will be fully accessible and inclusive for all children with disabilities/complex needs/additional needs and those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).

Carole, a teacher of primary-aged children with PMLD and this year's Woman of Rochdale, said: “In having our own centre, Jolly Josh will now be able to develop as a charity, providing more support for families in and around the borough of Rochdale, enabling them to connect, support and thrive, whilst inspiring inclusion.

“We will be able to begin to work towards meeting short and long-term goals which will benefit our families, and for this we are exceptionally grateful.”

Speaking at the announcement, Mayor Billy Sheerin said: “I came along today to witness the beginning of a dream come true. The Jolly Josh banner is flying high in Castleton, bringing comfort and relief to many families.

“My village is blessed with this project and will have my full support. We have a lot of angels in Castleton, both small ones and large ones, of which many make up Jolly Josh.”


Carole Kelly with a family who climbed Snowdon for Jolly Josh
Carole Kelly (left) with a family who climbed Snowdon to rasie £323 for Jolly Josh


Carole continued: “Becoming a teacher of primary-aged children with PMLD gave me great insight into some of the challenges that families faced as disabled children became older. I had experienced life with a disabled baby/toddler with complex needs, but this role gave me an insight into what life might have been like as Joshua got older and bigger.”

The venue will have a multi-functional room for various sessions, including the stay and play baby and toddler sessions, a fully accessible toilet and changing facilities, plus a fitted hoist to aid moving.


Mayor Billy Sheerin with one of the families
Mayor Billy Sheerin with one of the families


Carole also has plans for a hydrotherapy pool in the centre, and hopes to introduce more sessions, such as a youth group, music therapy, dad’s den, sibling support, palliative pals, counselling, and charity collaborations to name but a few.

Carole went on: “We plan also to introduce Sensory Stimulation sessions, using modern Augmentative and Alternative Communication technologies and lights to create a bespoke room for those with special educational needs and disability (SEND) to thrive.

“We hope to be able to host parties at our centre, as we understand the celebrations of birthdays for those with short life diagnosis and we also recognise that for our children with SEND that planning birthday parties can be limited, therefore we hope to be able to offer an appropriate, enjoyable venue.

“These plans are at present just ideas as to how we can develop our charity to meet the needs of our families. We dared to dream of the concept of Jolly Josh, and in just two short years we have proved that this group was needed within our community.”


Mayor Billy Sheerin with another of the Jolly Josh families
Mayor Billy Sheerin with another of the Jolly Josh families


Jolly Josh also has 10 years’ worth of free rent, thanks to the site’s owner, local businessman Peter Cordwell.

Carole added: “We are extremely grateful to Pete Cordwell and Dan Taylor, Directors at PGC and Kerf respectively.

The group has set an aim of raising £100,000 towards making the centre fit for use, of which a staggering £76,330 has been pledged so far.

Carole smiled: “Words cannot describe how thrilled we are that we have been given this opportunity, the dream of dreams, which opens a world of opportunity for Jolly Josh.”

How you can be key to Jolly Josh's success

If you feel that you would be able to offer support with the build and development of the Jolly Josh centre, please email Carole:

Alternatively, if you wish to raise funds or donate towards the Jolly Josh centre, please contact

Donations can also be made on the Jolly Josh website via PayPal:

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