Christmas shopping: 'Unique' virtual reality therapy centre in Northampton offers 'spellbound' presents this year

"Come and give us a go. We are amazing. Virtual reality is the future. You will be spellbound. Everyone who does this says it's incredible."

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 8:51 am

A 'unique' independent Northampton company has spoken out about the benefits of virtual reality and how it has already helped many patients across the town.

In the run up to Christmas, the Chronicle and Echo is celebrating and promoting the best of local businesses in a bid to get more people out shopping locally.

The fifth shop in our coverage is Virtual Real Therapies in Spencer Parade, close to St Giles' Street, which is owned by Rebecca Gill who employs four others to run the ship.

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Ros, Rebecca and Matt from VR Therapies

The company treats mental health and disabled patients using virtual reality headsets, which can make the user feel like they are swimming with dolphins, racing around Silverstone, going on nature walks and much, much more.

VR Therapies employee Ros Stone, 60, who said: "We are unique. There's nothing like this in Northampton.

"The idea came from Rebecca. She is a VR enthusiast and was a learning disability nurse until two years ago.

"In her old job she could see there was a need for something extra for patients.

The centre has hydrotherapy hot tubs

"A lot of hydroptherapy places in the area were shutting down as well, so Rebecca wanted to open her own centre with hydrotherapy hot tubs - we use them alongside the virtual reality headsets so people can 'swim' with dolphins.

"Virtual reality is a really immersive experience. It transports you out of the moment into a completely new world and makes you feel instantly better. It's very cool.

"It's incredibly rewarding. When we introduced it to the community before Covid, it was really successful for people with dementia. A lot of the care home staff would say 'we have never seen that lady speak before'.

"I was a special needs teacher before this for 30 years. I left that job to do this is, it's just the next step forward and is so beneficial."

The racing driver simulator is particularly popular.

The company does predominately help disabled people and those struggling with their mental health, but Ros wanted to stress that the experience is available to all.

"Yes it's there to help people it's open to the whole community, not just for people with disabilities. Anyone who wants to come, it's here for you," she said.

The company's future was in the balance after Covid hit, but the town rallied together and chipped into a crowdfunder to keep the business going.

Ros said: "Covid hit us hard - mega hard. We have been struggling to get our doors open the last couple of weeks.

"We had to do a crowdfunder over Covid to keep the business alive, we raised thousands and want to thank everyone who supported us."

And now, in the run up to Christmas, the company is urging shoppers to pop along and give them a go.

Ros added: "Pop along, buy a voucher, buy a Christmas present for a friend or relative. Have a look at our Facebook and website.

"Come and give us a go. We are amazing. Virtual reality is the future. You will be spellbound. Everyone who does this says it's incredible."

Ros wanted to point out one particular review that summed up what the company can do for people.

The review reads: "Myself and my 21-year-old daughter who has special needs, autism, a learning disability and chromosome deletion, spent the morning at the VR therapy centre - what an absolutely lovely experience.

"Friendly staff willing to take time and the level of support and understanding was outstanding.

"My daughter enjoyed the experience immensely and engaged with the racing simulator. She really loved the driving VR experience. Thank you for a lovely afternoon.”

The centre is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm.

For more information, visit the website or Facebook page.

To donate money to the company through a lottery scheme, click here.