PICTURES: Big welcome for first bus load of youngsters heading to Skegness children's home in two years
A bus load of children from Derbyshire has arrived at a charity in Skegness for the first time in two years - and staff couldn't be happier to greet them.
Before the pandemic, hundreds of school children who would not normally get a holiday came to the resort every year for breaks organised by the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre.
Now the charity has opened its doors again, with the first group of 13 primary arriving on Monday to spend five days by the sea.
The specialist centre in Scarbrough Avenue, affectionately known as ‘Skeggy home’, celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2021 without children.
However, the return of the children has breathed new life into the building.
They arrived just after lunch on Monday and after unpacking, a quick tour and a lunch of hot dogs and doughnuts they were off to the beach.
"We are so delighted to have the children back," said manager Ali Byerley.
"Over the past two years while the home has been closed I've been coming to check things but the house has felt cold and empty.
"Now it's warm and has come alive again."
Chairman of the charity, Alan Grimadell said: “It’s been a long time that the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre has not been able to perform the role that we are known for – providing seaside breaks for children who badly need them.
“Covid has been a difficult period for everyone and particularly for children who usually so look forward to spending a week with us at our centre in Skegness. For many of them, it’s the only holiday they get so we’ve been desperate to re-open for them when the time is right.
“We are looking forward to opening up our centre for the whole season this year so hundreds of children can once again enjoy the simple pleasures of a week by the sea: making sandcastles, jumping the waves – these are the things that they sorely need, and our charity is there to give them that carefree time.”
The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre as set up in 1891 by friends Harry Sykes and Arnold Bemrose, after Harry met a group of young boys sailing a boat on a puddle when walking through a deprived area of Derby. With their parents’ permission, Harry and Arnold took the boys on a day trip to Skegness.
The following year, a house was rented in Skegness and 223 children enjoyed a holiday. Funds were then raised to build a centre, which was opened in 1898.
Because the centre is so well established in Skegness, having enjoyed its position near the sea for well over a century, many local businesses are glad to support its work and the children who come there. The charity often benefits from cut-price admissions and food so that children who come to the Lincolnshire coast can have the happiest time possible.
This week a trip to Butlin's is planned, as well as swimming at the Embassy pool and visits to Captain Kids at Skegness Pier and bowling.
"It’s about children having fun," added Ali. "That’s what it’s all about.
"I've really missed the children. This house is just a house but with children in it, it’s a home.”
The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre would always appreciate donations to help keep its vital work alive. To support the ‘One in a Million’ campaign, donate £4 a month by texting DCHCMILLION to 70085.