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Dream Centre Wins Prestigious Award

18 October 2021

Last week, Chailey Heritage Foundation accepted a highly prestigious Thea Award from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) during a virtual ceremony.

The TEA’s awards ceremony - The Theas - is held annually, and they recognise and celebrate achievement, talent, and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry.

Chailey Heritage Foundation’s Dream Centre, which was opened in October 2019 by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, was the recipient of the Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immersive Design for Special Needs Guests.

Chailey Heritage Foundation finds itself amongst some of the highest profile brand names in the world. Another of this year’s winners was the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disneyland Park in California.

Matt Barton, CEO of 7thSense and designer of the installation, accepted the award. He said:

“The Dream Centre is unlike any project we’ve worked on before. From the very beginning, it’s been an incredible process to be part of a team that has worked so hard to bring a vision to life! We set out to provide Chailey Heritage with a creative toolbox to allow the young people and staff at Chailey to explore new and inventive ways to use the technology and the space. It’s a wonderful achievement to see how the Dream Centre is creating incredible and memorable experiences. The awards are truly well deserved, and a reflection of the dedication of everyone involved. We look forward to working with the team at Chailey to continue to develop and add to this toolbox.”

Mark Elms, Content Developer at CHF, also accepted the award. He said:

“It is a great thrill to achieve international recognition for the Dream Centre. This amazing space offers unique learning opportunities for the young people here at Chailey Heritage Foundation every day, and to be recognised by the Themed Entertainment Association is a real honour. This was a truly collaborative project, and a huge thank you must go to all our donors, as without their generosity this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive at Chailey Heritage Foundation, said:

"The installation of technology usually found in the world’s best known theme parks may seem unimaginable in a setting like ours, but we are committed to providing every opportunity for the young people in our care to pursue their potential and have as many experiences as possible.

In the time since the Dream Centre opened in October 2019, it has already delivered many stand-out moments, from its Royal opening by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Cirque du Chailey performance to the Christmas plays and panto last year and the inaugural Chailey Games.

But it is the ability to offer individually tailored experiences which can support the learning, healthiness, and happiness of the young people here at Chailey Heritage which makes it truly a dream come true. We would like to thank our technical partners, as without their expertise, the innovations in the Dream Centre would not have been possible."

The Thea Awards Committee, when presenting the award, said:

"This high-touch, virtual interactive experience is specifically designed to cater to children of very limited abilities. This includes people with profound mental and physical conditions who cannot move on their own, nor be left on their own. This is an audience often underserved in more standard environments. Here, through this relatively simple application of adaptable screen technology and projection, they are given specific, careful, loving attention as they are taken through virtual experiences which they clearly find profound, entertaining, and moving. And that is the highest standard we have."

Watch the video to see some of the young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation accepting the award at a specially filmed award ceremony in the Dream Centre. The video also features some words of acceptance from CHF’s Development Director, Sally-Anne Murray.

Everyone at Chailey Heritage Foundation is delighted to have received this award, and we are extremely grateful to the Themed Entertainment Association for recognising the Dream Centre as the incredible space that it is.

*Some photos courtesy of TEA/Themed Entertainment Association

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