Gastro pub backs autism charity

Lisa Donoghue with general manager at the Derby Arms, Jay Bain.
Lisa Donoghue with general manager at the Derby Arms, Jay Bain.

Community spirit shines through at a gastro pub in Longridge, as plans are put in place to work alongside a local charity for children with autism and learning difficulties.

Lisa Donoghue set up OJ’s Care more than a decade ago after experiencing problems going to mainstream and public areas with her son, Oliver, who has autism.

Now the Derby Arms in Thornley, part of the wider Seafood Pub Company, has committed to supporting Lisa and OJ’s Care by hosting a number of events at the pub throughout the year.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to work closely with a great local charity,” said gebneral manager Jay Bain.

“We’re inspired by the work of OJ’s founder Lisa, her staff and volunteers, and really want to help raise money and awareness.”

Recalling her early difficulties with Oliver, now 14, when she went out with him and her other three children, Lisa said “I would find that some people would not have patience with Oliver and this would cause upset in our family.”

Deciding to tackle the issue – as well as to help other parents with similar issues – she set up OJ’s, offering family days and activities at various locations across the Ribble Valley and Longridge area.

Lisa and a team of volunteers now work tirelessly to provide a non-judgemental environment in which families, siblings and loved ones can enjoy themselves.

They also run successful holiday clubs for children with autism age eight and over at Longridge Sports Centre.

Lisa added: “I had lunch recently at the Derby Arms and was delighted with the food, atmosphere and staff.

“The venue is ideal to host afternoon tea and fundraisers for the charity.

“It’s a great place for mums, grandmas and carers to meet and talk about their experiences.

“I’m really looking forward to putting some dates in the diary and working with the Derby Arms, we’ve lots of exciting events planned.”

Charity buckets will be placed in the pub’s restaurant so customers can also join in with fundraising efforts. Any donations and the amount raised will be regularly updated on a chalkboard.