New sensory room opens at Watford FC

6th Jan 2017
New sensory room opens at Watford FC

A partnership between the Lord’s Taverners, BT, the Premier League and The Shippey Campaign has seen a new sensory room open at Premiership football club Watford FC.

Last year it was announced that as part of the partnership, Premier League football clubs will have the opportunity to apply for funding to help fans with sensory difficulties.

The first sensory room at a football club was opened at Sunderland AFC last season in conjunction with Kate and Peter Shippey who were inspired to work with the club so their children and other sports fans on the autism spectrum could enjoy live football at the clubs they support – and now Watford have opened their own room which will enable children to enjoy football in a calm environment.

The room, which was constructed in the summer and originally earmarked for additional hospitality space, has been converted during recent weeks. Sensory equipment funded by the Premier League Charitable Fund in association with the Lord’s Taverners, The Shippey Campaign and BT Sport has also been installed.

Local specialised schools, who have been involved in the design phase of the project, will be invited to attend coming matches and it is hoped that demand from Watford fans who are currently unable to bring children as a result of their needs will also be able to benefit.

The room features a comfortably furnished viewing area, with an excellent view of the action and a state-of-the-art calming area featuring a bubble tube, fibre-optic carpet, soft seating, wall projectors, a glitter-ball with a colour wheel and a Bluetooth speaker system so that visitors to the room can choose their own music if the game becomes too distressing for their child.

The room is managed by fully-trained staff with a background in working with children on the autism spectrum and is accessible from Vicarage Road.

Theo Canter, the 6 year-old son of Upper Graham Taylor Stand season ticket holder Andrew, has so far been unable to enjoy matches with his Dad and older sister Ruby.

Theo and his family became the first Watford fans to use the room at the recent match against Everton and thoroughly enjoyed their day. “We are so delighted that the Watford FC Sensory Room is now a reality,” said Andrew. “We have been incredibly impressed by the Club's receptiveness and dedication in ensuring these facilities have been made available. The Sensory Room will make a huge difference to Theo and we look forward to coming along to more matches.”

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