THE former owners of Mark Wilkinson Furniture have become the patrons of the Rowdeford Charity Trust.

Mark and Cynthia Wilkinson, of Bromham, said they were delighted to join the trust, which raises funds for projects to advance the education of children with special needs.

The projects are carried out at Rowdeford School, a special school in Rowde that caters for children from all over Wiltshire. The trust has raised more than £1m since it was set up by Mike Bowden in 2001. The trust’s previous patron was Jane Ancram, wife of former Devizes MP Michael Ancram.

Last week Mr and Mrs Wilkinson met pupils, staff, governors, trustees and friends of Rowdeford and observed pupils helping to construct a pig ark for rare breed lop-eared pig Treacle and her offspring, which are now full- time residents at the school.

They also saw a hen house being built and the completion of a giant mosaic.

The trust is preparing to raise more than £400,000 for the ECO Centre project, to restore and develop the one remaining original building on the site, the kennels.

Mr Wilkinson, 63, who is semi-retired, was previously patron of the trust’s arts therapy centre. He is severely dyslexic and left school unable to read or write. He achieved an OBE and is a member of Mensa.

He said: “I found something akin to a Rowdeford moment happened as one teacher said something I had made was lovely and said well done to me.

“The children at Rowdeford are capable, artistic and they count. Rowdeford is a beautiful place and the whole school is quite literally run with love.”