Derbyshire charity launches new push for volunteers to keep providing holidays for children

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The much-loved charity the Derbyshire Children's Holiday Centre, which has been providing free holidays for children in need of a break since 1891, has launched a new push for volunteers.

The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre (DCHC) gives five-day seaside stays at its specialist centre in Skegness to children from schools all around the county.

Children are nominated to go to the centre if financial hardship or other reasons – such as caring for relatives – mean they may not benefit from any kind of holiday break during the year.

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Now the holiday centre has launched its new drive for support during National Volunteers Week, which runs from June 3-9.

Janine Stillwell, centre manager Ali Byerley, charity chair Alan Grimadell and young holiday-makersJanine Stillwell, centre manager Ali Byerley, charity chair Alan Grimadell and young holiday-makers
Janine Stillwell, centre manager Ali Byerley, charity chair Alan Grimadell and young holiday-makers

Janine Stillwell, the charity’s new operations executive – who has joined the charity after having been a head teacher herself – said: “Any charity relies on support from many different sources, including trustees, businesses, and volunteers, and ours is no different. We have been very well supported by volunteers over the years and we’d love to swell their ranks with more people who might be willing to give up a bit of time to help us raise vital funds to keep our charity going and keep putting smiles on the faces of children who so enjoy going to Skegness for a week.”

The DCHC is interested in hearing from anyone who has any time to spare and would like to use it to get involved in fundraising activities. These might include helping to distribute fundraising tins, organising events or supporting those which are already in the calendar.

Janine said: “Our charity operates across the whole of Derbyshire and it would be brilliant to establish groups of volunteers in different areas, to help spread the word about our charity and let people know about our work giving children a break.”

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The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre started life after benevolent Victorian Harry Sykes noticed two boys playing with a sailboat in Derby’s West End in 1891.

Charity volunteer Richard Dunkley with collection boxesCharity volunteer Richard Dunkley with collection boxes
Charity volunteer Richard Dunkley with collection boxes

Within weeks Harry had organised the first trip to Skegness for children living in deprived areas of Derby and the following year 223 children enjoyed a stay in a house that had been rented in Skegness. Before long, funds were raised to buy a specialist centre which is still the home of the charity today.

Charity chair Alan Grimadell said: “In some ways it’s sad to think that there is still a need for our charity all these years after it first started, but the reality is that with rising costs of living there are many families in Derbyshire who are struggling and we know how much their children love coming to our centre for a break. The families get so much out of seeing their smiles when they return home on the bus and talk about their adventures.

“We would love to hear from volunteers who may be able to spare us a little bit of their time in return for the reward of knowing that every penny will be going towards putting more smiles on the faces of children we help.”

Anyone interested in getting involved is asked to contact the charity by emailing Janine on [email protected] or by phoning on 01332 345424.