Family Weekend 2015

Sturge Weber UK Family Weekend Conference 2015
Celebrating the Charity’s 25th Anniversary


We found out at the last minute that the hotel no longer had the swimming pool so we made an extra effort to keep the children and young people happy. We were so glad that we could recruit the wonderful “Strawberry Jam” as a ‘roving entertainer’ to amuse the children and keep them occupied on the Saturday morning while families were arriving and settling in to the hotel. She was a great ice breaker. She brought lots of toys with her for kids to try out “hands on” and her balloon creations were second to none!

After lunch Donna Holmes from Anthony Collins Solicitor’s kindly held a workshop on Wills and Trusts. She was really informative and helpful.  Donna  answered many questions during the workshop and she stayed for quite a while afterwards to talk to the families on a one to one basis.

As a special treat for our 25th Anniversary Lisa Massingham organised the Disney characters Princesses Elsa & Anna, Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Superhero Captain America to circulate amongst the children on Saturday for a sing song in the crèche and also for a photo shoot! Firstly we would like to say a very special thank-you to DBA Entertainers for kindly offering to join in the fun on Saturday afternoon and secondly making so many children’s faces beam!!!
Just one of the comments received from one of the children was “this is the best day of my life” and just by the sheer noise of excitement I’m sure you will all agree the Disney Entertainers were a huge success by all
Families who chose to have their photo taken may have already or will be receiving their gift photo soon along with details on how to buy additional photos from the photographer - We are very grateful  to Stacey Raven  for kindly offering his services that afternoon and providing us with many amazing memories

Sir NitWit (Carl Pettman )
was a great entertainer for the children for an hour and a half before dinner which was at 7.30. Sir Cliff Richard, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Bob Monkhouse, Jasper Carrott, Des O'Connor, Sir David Jason and Ronnie Barker, to name but a few, have all witnessed the magic and been entertained by Carl.  It was a hot or cold buffet and once again the hotel excelled themselves with tasty food, plenty for everyone and seconds! Jane Williams again organised a quiz for each table to complete as a group. Very well done to the winning table! People had been very generous in donating prizes for the raffle. Caity Downs and Helena Gardiner kindly offered to draw the raffle and they worked very hard to make themselves heard over the general hubbub! Thank you very much to them for their hard work.

The raffle raised £296.00. Thank you to Adey Kent, Starlings Toys Ltd., Cromer Curtains & Linens, Discount Book & Jigsaw Co Ltd., Jill Fisher, Darren’s Cards & News and families who donated raffle prizes.
At the auction, people bid for two great prizes: a boxing glove signed by Amir Khan, kindly donated by Elizabeth and Mostyn Pickavance and tickets to visit the set of Coronation Street had been organised with the kind help of Marie Cavalier. The items were won by John Sutton
and Melanie Jones. Congratulations to them on their winning bids and thank you very much for their generous support. The evening was not over yet and families sat together for a long time chatting until the wee early hours.

Many of the children went off on the buses to the West Midlands Safari Park although some did remain in the Hotel creche run by Safehands. We arranged for a Safari Ranger for each bus to give a commentary as they travelled around the park.

Jenny Denham opened the 2015 Family Weekend and Conference with the Charity’s AGM. The Chair Jenny Denham and Fundraising Coordinator Lisa Massingham were re-nominated and a new Secretary, Litz Butcher was voted onto the committee by Emma Wright and seconded by John Sutton. Together with the Treasurer, Antonia East, Sturge Weber UK now has four Trustees.

The first Speaker of the morning was Mr Vivek Josan, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Manchester Hospital.

He was followed by Dr Sarah Aylett  Consultant Paediatric Neurologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

After lunch Clinical Nurse Specialists Mark Heathfield and Emma Ninnis from the  Sturge Weber Clinic at GOSH gave a presentation.
Finally before tea and pastries Dr Ward gave an overview of the role of an Educational Psychologist.

After the Sunday Conference families collected their children from the crèche and met those returning from the trip to the Safari Park. This year we arranged for two Safari Rangers (one for each coach) and apparently they were very informative explaining the activities of each kind of animal.

There was an entertainer for the children in the dining room at 6pm. The entertainer Scott’s Magic was very popular, the children were laughing, shouting and joining in.

Lisa organised some party games, party bags and music for the children.Pass the parcel was popular with small presents hidden between the layers so that no one went without. Dinner after the conference was very nice with plenty for everyone. 


The next day dawned sunny and still, perfect for the balloon race. Families could spoil themselves and tuck in to a hearty full English breakfast or simply enjoy croissants and coffee before the balloon race at 10.30.
The race was slightly delayed with a last-minute “oh crikey” when the hotel’s designated ‘blower upper’ disappeared! After a short search, the keeper of helium was located and the balloons inflated, the cards attached and handed to families. The release of the balloons was perfect – they went miles straight up into a blue sky and floated off into the distance. Last year a card was returned from Germany and this year the furthest balloon travelled to Grantham. Joshua Impey released that balloon and he and the balloon finder have won a WH Smith and M&S voucher respectively.
Thank you to all the families who attended the Weekend. We hope you found the Weekend interesting and fun too! Your support and especially your feedback is highly valued.

A video has been created of the Weekend and can be viewed on our public Face-Book Page

Antonia East
Jenny Denham
Lisa Massingham