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About Us

When people experience nature - spending time outside and learning some simple outdoor skills - it increases their self confidence, builds a stronger sense of who they are and develops important life skills such as co-operation, problem solving and creative thinking.In 21st century many children and young people are more at home in a virtual world than in the one around them.  They may spend some leisure time outside yet still lack the freedom to explore and discover the world around them.  This freedom to explore and take risks increases self esteem and self reliance.The hectic pace of adults’ lives too, can mean they forget to step outside and experience the simple pleasures of a walk in the rain or a night round a campfire.  At huathe we redress that balance.  We work to connect people back to nature, to themselves and to each other.   We engage a wide variety of people and infuse them with our passion for the world around us.


huathe has been delivering Forest School since 2009 and Forest School training since 2012.  Over that time we have delivered hundreds of hours of Forest School to children aged from under 1 to 15 and trained Forest School leaders in the UK, USA, Ireland and China.  We are one of the few organisations to have our training endorsed by the Forest School Association and we specialise in bespoke training that fit our participants' needs.  This year our scheduled training programmes reflect our relationships with partners in East Anglia, Ireland and China and with new partners in the USA.  

Carol Middleton and Elizabeth Swift are the co-founders of huathe. Both are endorsed by the Forest School Association and both have extensive experience of working  as university lecturers, teachers and early years professionals  We are experienced in mentoring and nature connection learning. Between us we have over 40 years of practice experience. We are based in East Anglia. 


Look out for us at outdoor and early years conferences.  We are regular contributors to the Cambridgeshire Forest School Conference and the Forest School national conference.  Additionally in 2016  and 2017 we spoke at the Asia International Early Years conference in Chengdu, Szechuan and the Forest School conference in Nanning, Guangxi and at Ireland's first national Forest School conference.


In 2014 Elizabeth was shortlisted for a Learning Outside the Classroom Award for Innovative Practice and in 2010 we won the prestigious TACTYC (Training, Advancement and Co-operation in Teaching Young Children) award for our work using Forest School to support children’s transition in school.  As mentioned on our home page, Elizabeth's brain cancer has taken her out of huathe's training programme this year - she still has plenty of knowledge and information to share though!

We offer bespoke and established packages for INSET and CPD in schools and colleges.   Working with the 8 shields, nature-centric model of leadership and practice, we are passionate about the work we do and are skilled at training, leading and delivering this highly effective way of working. 

posters at the Forest School conference
Elizabeth Swift - outdoor singing.jpg

Why we are called huathe

Lots of people ask us about the name of our organization – how to say it, how we chose it, what it means to us etc. It’s common for folk to say that the name chose us. It wasn’t exactly like that – I think we chose each other. Certainly we feel that huathe belongs to itself and that whilst we use the name, we don’t own it.

huathe is the Celtic for hawthorn – so it’s pronounced like the beginning of hawthorn – hawtha. It’s a powerful tree – some of its resonance for us is described here by Glennie Kindred... 

The Hawthorn (Crataegus mongyna), Tree, is one of the most wild, enchanted and sacred of our native trees. Known as the ‘Faerie Tree’ and the ‘Queen of the May’, this beautiful, often ancient and gnarled, thorny little tree can live to 700 years old, and can be found growing on ancient sites, marking old boundaries and growing in the wildest and harshest of spots. It grows all over Europe, Greece, North Africa and Western Asia and is rich in folklore and legend. 

Even when it is found growing in a town, the Hawthorn retains the spirit of the wild, and some Hawthorn town hedges have probably been there for hundreds of years – long before the town build up around them. The beauty of this tree in the Springtime, when it is in full blossom, touches all our hearts and it holds a special place in our affections. In the Autumn, the red berries feed the birds and provide colour and beauty after the colourful Autumn leaves have gone. 

Hawthorn has long been used as a herbal remedy that is beneficial to the heart. The etheric signature of the Hawthorn is said to have a pulsation that is similar to that of the human heartbeat. The Hawthorn will help release blocked energy, not only releasing stress, but creating an ability to trust and let go of fear. As fear is released, great psychic energy of Love is opened up. For this reason, the Hawthorn is particularly potent as a tool for healing affairs of the heart and has long been given as a token of friendship and Love. This link to the heart and Love is reflected in its symbolism and its place in folklore and legend. It is linked to the Beltane festival of the Old Religion, which celebrated the fertility of the Earth and humankind. (Later, when the Church tried to eradicate the Old Religion and replace it with Christianity, the Hawthorn became associated with misfortune, chastity and sexual abstinence.) This later overlay is now being transformed again, as the Hawthorn is recognised as a positive symbol of the heart through its ability on a subtle level to open the heart to spiritual growth and Love.

hawthorn flowers at Forest School
Hawthorn berries at Forest School
hawthorn flowers at Forest School
snowy hawthorn at Forest School
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