SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, is taking bookings for a pair of exciting, free short breaks designed to offer new experiences and activities for children, young people and families from the Army community.
The week-long adventure getaways include the Siblings and Young Carer Break for children aged 8-12 and the Family Break for families with a child with an additional need or disability.
Paul Reardon, who served in the Army for 28 years and is now in the Reserves and his wife Sharon have two sons, Lewis (11) and Rowan (9) who is severely disabled. Lewis has previously attended the Siblings and Young Carers and, in 2016, the whole family went on the Short Break for Families.
Sharon explained: “It was quite a long way for us to travel down to Exmoor. I think we both thought that one of us would always be looking after Rowan and we weren’t sure how much of a holiday it would be. Rowan has profound multiple learning difficulties, he is visually impaired, almost completely immobile and he has to be fed through a tube. We have tried various activities in the past but Rowan is very rarely able to join in.
“As it turns out, from start to finish the whole week was brilliant. Our accommodation was brilliant, the food, the staff, the other families, the instructors, and most importantly, Rowan was involved in everything – which was amazing for us!
“I was doubtful about the abseiling and rock climbing but our instructor said that Rowan would be able to do it. It was unbelievable. They had him in the pool as soon as we arrived and he spent a lovely afternoon moving between floating in the pool and going in the jacuzzi. We even had a group trip out one day to a theme park.
“It was lovely to have that change midweek and do something completely different – and we had a great time.”
Veterans who have left the services within the last year may apply, but priority for spaces will be given to serving families or Reserves.
Siblings and Young Carers Break
When: 28 May – 3 June
Where: Kingswood Staffordshire
What: This break is for children aged 8-12 only. Children are accompanied by trained and vetted volunteers, along with SSAFA staff and the trained activity instructors at the centre itself. Daily activities include go carting, quad biking, laser zone, bush craft games, abseiling, archery, low ropes, team games, fencing, caving and camp fire.
When: 29 July – 4 August 2017
Where: Calvert Trust Exmoor
What: Families attending this break must have a child with an additional need or disability in their family. There must be at least one parent attending this break alongside their children (aged 8-14 only). Daily activities include horse riding, kayaking, biking, sailing, archery, abseiling, bush craft and low ropes.
For more information, visit www.ssafa.org.uk/help-you/currently-serving/holidays-and-events-service-children To apply or to find out about volunteering opportunities, contact Hannah Wiltshire on Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 463 9275.