First mention of a holiday by the sea for poor children when the Kyrle Society’s Samuel Ellicock, HMI for Technical Education, proposed a summer camp for poor boys somewhere on the coast. Ellicock led a committee that investigated but when the report was presented to the Kyrle Society it concluded that such a camp was impractical at that time.
President Sir John Rolleston (1898-1919). Sir John Rolleston was a British Conservative party politician. He was knighted in 1897. He was MP for Leicester until 1906. His wife, Lady Rolleston, opened Leicester Boy’s Club in 1896. He was also a prominent Freemason.
Mrs Rolleston, later Lady Rolleston, invited some poor boys over to her home at Glen Parva Grange, where she had a team of helpers, for instruction and encouragement to become self-respecting citizens, to love God and to read the Bible.
Leicester Boys’ Club opened at 22 Newarke Street with Edward Wood as president, Sir John Rolleston as vice-president, Lady Rolleston as honorary secretary and Samuel Faire as treasurer. A second club opened on Lead Street.
Alderman Wakerley, the mayor, called a public meeting which was promoted by Lady Rolleston, to discuss a week’s holiday by the sea for boys who attended the clubs. Leicester Poor Boys’ Summer Camp Association was founded. At the Bank Holiday in early August, the first group of boys went camping in tents on the sandhills at Mablethorpe, accompanied by Samuel Ellicock, who became the first chairman of the charity. Volunteers came from Leicester and the camp was opened by Lady Rolleston.
Girls joined the holidays for the first time, in a purpose built wooden building. The boys continued to sleep in tents.
The clubs in Leicester moved to new premises at 53 Highcross Street.
The charity was renamed Leicester Poor Boys’ and Girls’ Summer Camp and Institute. The premises moved again to 77 High Street.
Shaftesbury Hall built to house the classes and games of the Institute and offices of the charity.
Boys’ Home built in Mablethorpe, next to the Girls’ Home.
Open Air School for weak and sickly children opened by the Education Committee in the holiday homes in the autumn, after the summer season ended.
1915 to 1918
The Holiday Homes were occupied by the military. Children went on country holidays to Manor House at Little Stretton.
Holidays recommence at Mablethorpe and Shaftesbury Hall reopened for the children in Leicester.
President Sir Samuel Faire (1920-1930). Sir Samuel Faire was a borough and county Magistrate. Together with his brother, John, his philanthropy was at grass roots level in his home town of Leicester. As well as being Treasurer of the Leicester Boy’s Club which later became Leicester Poor Boy’s Summer Camp, he was also President of many other local associations and was knighted in 1905 for his services to the city of Leicester.
President Sir Arthur Faire (1931-1933). Sir Arthur Faire was Director of the Leicester boot and shoe manufacturers; Smith Faire & Ltd. He was a Magistrate, Treasurer of Leicester Working Men’s College and Chairman of the Leicester Home for Boys as well as being involved in many other local establishments. Passionate about education, he was a member of the Scheme of the Board of Education set up in 1907. In his will, he left £1000 of shares to finance an adult scholarship for Vaughan College students to enable them to attend University.
President Sir Jonathan North (1934-1938). Sir Jonathan North was an influential citizen in Leicester. After finishing school, he went in to business in the boot and shoe manufacturing business. A prominent member of the business community, he also took an interest in education and civic life. He was Mayor of Leicester throughout the First World War years and was knighted in 1919 in recognition of his service. He gave generously to the appeal for the Lutyens war memorial in Victoria Park and commissioned two sets of wrought iron gates at the entrance of the park, in memory of his wife, Lady North, who died in 1930.
Lady Rolleston laid the foundation stone for a new, modern holiday centre at Mablethorpe.
The permanent holiday centre for both boys and girls opened on the sandhills at Mablethorpe.
President Richard Hallam (1939-1954). Richard Hallam was left school at 12 years old and entered the boot and shoe trade as a clicker. At aged 24, he started a business partnership with Mr Thomas Howard. He became ward counsellor for Belgrave in 1918. He was elected in 1935 as Leicester’s ninth Lord Mayor.
Holidays were arranged at Bufton Lodge, Botcheston for a short time, until it was taken over for use by evacuees.
Holidays at Mablethorpe recommenced just a month after the war ended. Shaftesbury Hall did not reopen as the Institute but rooms were hired out to raise funds.
Children from the county of Leicestershire began to go to Mablethorpe.
The Great Flood on the East Coast caused huge damage and loss of life although the Holiday Centre escaped damage because of its high position on the dunes. Rescue and reconstruction workers, including Leicester Firemen, were housed in the Centre which delayed its opening for children’s holidays by two weeks.
President Sir John Corah (1955-1960). Son of Nathaniel Corah, who owned one of the largest hosiery firms in the country. Later, John would become a Chairman of the company. He was also a member of the Leicester Freemason’s.
President Miss May Goodwin MBE (1961-1965). May Goodwin left school at the age of 13 to work in the boot and shoe industry. She rose through the ranks of her union, NUBSO, to become a full time official from 1939 – 1958. In 1939, she was elected President of the Leicester Women’s Branch of the Boot and Shoe Union, which was the only branch of the union to be served entirely by women officers in the country. She became responsible for the working conditions in the industry of over 6000 women in Leicester and Leicestershire. She was awarded an MBE in 1942 for services to the footwear industry and was made a JP the following year. In 1944/1945, she was elected Chairman of the city Labour Party. She became Lord Mayor in 1961.
Shaftesbury Hall was rented out, Ruthella was the first tenant. The charity’s office moved into the adjacent former caretaker’s accommodation.
Sidney Brown Chair (1966-67)
Harold Beck Chair (1967-90)
Arthur West Chair (1990-91)
The charity was renamed Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre (Mablethorpe).
Raymond Mason Chair (1991-2003)
The charity celebrated its centenary.
Janet Littlefield Chair (2003-04)
Stephanie Brown Chair (2004-11)
Jim Roberts Chair (2011-17)
Shaun O’Donnell Chair (2017-19)
The last season of children’s holidays in Mablethorpe. More than 60,000 children had enjoyed a special time there over the years.
In August the first party of Leicester children are taken by the renamed Leicester Children’s Holidays charity on an exciting adventure holiday at Hilltop, Sheringham.
During this year’s Civic lunch, a new modern website, logo, and branding is unveiled completed by local design agency Nifty Thinking.
Parvez Bhatty Chair (2019-current)
44 children went on holiday.
Leicester Children’s Holidays relocates from Shaftesbury Hall to the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester City Centre.
4 year strategic plan in the pipeline.
Our target is to send 80 children on holiday.