An eighty-strong volunteer group, comprising current Oundle pupils, former pupils and five pupils from other local schools, ran the 2015 Oundle School Mencap Holiday (OSMH), now in its 33rd year, held at Oundle School over the summer holidays.
Not only does Oundle Mencap give a week’s holiday to forty children with learning disabilities, it offers their families a week’s respite from care whilst enabling Oundle sixth formers to learn about caring for young people with learning disabilities in a safe and protective environment.
The theme of the 2015 holiday was ‘Wild West’. During the week the children fashioned giant wagons from cardboard boxes, built totem poles from empty milk bottles, made dream catchers and rainmakers and enjoyed Wild West-themed games and plays which, in accordance with OSMH tradition, involved plenty of singing and dressing up.
Children and volunteers enjoyed the usual days out to Twin Lakes and nearby Wicksteed Park, as well as den-building and climbing in Rutland and a visit to the Burghley Gardens of Surprise. The traditional day out at the seaside took place at Hunstanton, where the group swam in the North Sea, visited the Sea Life Centre and took on the waltzers in the amusement park.
Kate Taylor, Holiday Leader, commented: “Our children had the most fantastic holiday once again. We say that we run one holiday for forty children, but really we are providing forty bespoke experiences, tailored to the specific needs of each young person. The commitment and energy of our volunteers who do this is just amazing. The thank you letters and emails have been pouring in, with many of the children already counting down the days until next year’s holiday.”
Sarah Ratchford, OSMH trustee and Housemistress at Oundle School, commented: “I want to thank and congratulate our Sixth Form pupils for all they achieved during the week. They stepped up to the mark in every sense and provided outstanding care to these vulnerable young people. Our hope is that they will take what they have learnt out into the wider world and act as ambassadors, showing just how much ability there is within ‘disability’. This year five helpers from other local schools also volunteered which we hope will widen the impact of the holiday on the local community.’