Charity trustee Simon is one of our vital volunteers who supports children on our holidays to the Hilltop Outdoor Centre. He was on the original pilot project in 2018 when just 20 children travelled to the base in Norfolk. Looking ahead, the charity hopes that in 2021, 120 youngsters will enjoy the adventure.
Simon has an important role as a Year 6 teacher at a Leicester city school and, just like all of his pupils and colleagues, his life changed completely during the 2020 lockdown.
Gone were the regular classes and the boisterous school days. They were replaced by home schooling, making fun videos to encourage the children to learn and stay in touch, video conferencing calls and days of teaching small classes.
“Children need the school environment to learn and also bring some stability and routine into their lives. I love teaching and being with children and I have really missed it. The children, whatever their ability, will have lost some of that knowledge learned in the classroom.”
Teachers across the UK will soon be making plans to get back to a normal school life and Simon is no exception.
Simon said: “We are all looking forward to getting everyone back and this means a lot of planning for things like staggered arrivals for pupils and staggered mealtimes too. We will be planning lessons with an emphasis on keeping all the children and staff safe.”
In August, Simon would have been off to Hilltop again for two weeks but the trips were postponed. He said there were special reasons why this year’s holidays were important.
He said: “The benefits these children would have felt were enormous, this year of all years. Being outside, being physically active and having fun would have made a world of difference to the 85 children lined up to go. They really need a break and they are assisted by the staff at Hilltop who are all so kind and friendly and really make a difference over the weeks.
“To watch these children who often surprise themselves with their bravery is a joyous thing. They have real guts to throw themselves off the Air Jump. I’m not sure I would like to tackle it!”
Simon even finds the time to run Theatretrain Leicester which organises popular dance, drama and singing sessions for children aged six to 18.
The Saturday school, with classes at Brockington College, went online during lockdown and most of the members tacked the half-hour classes in their own homes.
Simon said: “We gave them risk assessments and their parents were involved in making sure everything was set up okay. Everyone really enjoyed it and it was great to involve them all.”
The Theatretrain Leicester group supported Leicester Children’s Holidays with a rousing performance at the fundraiser at the University of Leicester’s Botanical Gardens in autumn 2019.
It was a personal pleasure for Simon to do this. He said: “It was great to see my group support the charity in this way and an important step to help Theatretrain members and their families be more aware of the charity’s work.”