Sand, Sun, and Special Needs - three years of helping families near Skegness

One of the families to have visited the Chapel St Leonards site through the project.
One of the families to have visited the Chapel St Leonards site through the project.

A group which provides holidays near Skegness and further afield for disabled and terminally ill children and adults, as well as victims of abuse and trauma, is nearing its third anniversary.

Sand, Sun, and Special Needs provides breaks for families at its static caravans in Chapel St Leonards – one at Golden Anchor Caravan Park and another, one adapted for disabled use, at Golden Palm Resort.

The adapted caravan.

The adapted caravan.

In addition, through a network of supporters, it is able to offer stays across the UK.

The community interest company launched in March 2015 and, since then, has provided more than 600 holidays.

It has also stepped in to help in other ways, including paying for horses for a child’s funeral, re-clothing families who have fled domestic violence, and re-furnishing fire-damaged homes.

On the success of the project, founder Michael Ryan, 40, said: “It’s gone better than whatever I could have expected.”

Michael Ryan (centre) and supporters Alison and John Simpson.

Michael Ryan (centre) and supporters Alison and John Simpson.

He added, however, while rewarding, it is also emotionally wrought work.

A recent person helped by the group was a woman, who aged just 34, had terminal cancer. As part of her bucket list, she wanted to take her young children to Blackpool.

Michael said: “We arranged this for them and the family went on the Friday and came back on the Monday. On the Tuesday we got an email saying that sadly she passed away a few hours after getting home from her holiday, thanking us for completing her bucket list.”

Summing up the emotional impact of the project, he said: “It’s up and down.”

The sites at Chapel St Leonards have proven a hit.

“The people who go absolutely love it,” Michael said. “We have people coming from London, Scotland, all over.”

One recent testimony on Facebook reads: “We are so grateful to have been so lucky to enjoy the holiday we had wanted from so long.”

* The group is appealing for anyone who is able to offer a break in a caravan to get in touch.

It would also like to hear from businesses which would like to support the project, including though sponsorship, and shops and pubs willing to take a collection tin for the cause.

In addition, this year, members of the Sand, Sun, and Special Needs team will be dressing up as children’s TV and film characters to welcome poorly children to their holidays. It will be filmed to make a DVD keepsake for the parents. Anyone who can support this through a donation towards fuel costs is asked to get in touch.

To help, contact Lisa Garland at the head office on 01332 405404 (Mon/Thurs) or via email on adimsssn@gmail.com