Look back at seaside holiday fun for thousands of youngsters - provided by Derbyshire charity for 130 years

Donkey rides, building sandcastles and eating ice-cream – thousands of Derbyshire children have enjoyed happy holidays by the seaside.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 1:29 pm
Did you enjoy a donkey ride on the beach in Skegness?
Did you enjoy a donkey ride on the beach in Skegness?

For 130 years, the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre has been giving youngsters a break in Skegness.

Michelle Breffitt, who lives in Alfreton, looks back on her holiday with fond memories. She said: “Enjoying time at the fair, by the sea, building sandcastles, singing songs, playing games and even horse riding let me be a child, smile and make friends with people I wouldn’t normally mix with. I think this opened my mind to make an effort to understand others, appreciate our differences and explore emotions and opportunities I wouldn't have even known existed.

"Attending what we called, Skegness Home, gave me a positive experience which helped shape the person I am today. The love and care I received plus the fun I had whilst on my holidays was something (I know now) every child has the right to.”

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Horse-drawn ride along the beach was part of a fun-packed holiday.

Michelle, who is now 41, said: “The smell of breakfast in the morning, sitting to eat at a dining table and clean clothes neatly folded on my bed are just some of the things I still appreciate today because of my time at the centre."

The charity allows children who may never have had a holiday to enjoy a week of relaxation and fun. In normal circumstances, it runs between April and October with spaces for 660 children a year.

Former Derbyshire Lord Lieutenant Willie Tucker is a new patron of the charity, having seen at first-hand the great work it does.

During his tenure, Willie and his wife Jill paid the specialist centre a visit. Willie said: "Even before the pandemic it was obvious to us that these were children who definitely deserved to have the treat of a holiday in Skegness.”

Mudlarks in Skegness for these young holidaymakers.

The charity’s roots lie in a chance meeting between friends Harry Sykes and Arnold Bemrose and a group of young boys in a deprived area of Derby. With their parents’ permission, the boys were taken on a day trip to Skegness by Harry and Arnold.

The following year, a house was rented in the seaside town and 223 children enjoyed a holiday. Funds were then raised to build a centre which opened in 1898.

Indoor games at the Derbyshire Children's Holiday Centre in 1975.
Charity founder Harry Sykes and youngsters at the newly extended Derbyshire Children's Holiday Centre home in 1938.