Over the past ten years, the St John’s School Community Holiday has welcomed children with disabilities aged 10-18, providing a fun-filled residential stay. The week long holiday sees our Sixth Form pupils volunteer to provide every visiting child with one-to-one care and attention, involving games, stories, activities, trips and plenty of laughter.
Every year, St John’s pupils, alumni, and staff participate in training and fundraising activities, ensuring the full team is equipped to deliver the best week possible. The training would not be possible without the support of two Old Johnians, Livvy and Cat. Many former pupils return to volunteer again each year, with new helpers joining every year as well.
The 2023 holiday took place from 19 to 26 August, welcoming 24 extraordinary children who were cared for by a fantastic team of 47 present and former St John’s pupils alongside St John’s staff and a few external volunteers.
Making use of the School’s boarding houses and spacious grounds, our wonderful guests enjoyed an assortment of exciting activities including a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, dancing, swimming, cooking, a magician, and a visit from a petting zoo. Day trips included the children testing their nerves on the low and high ropes at High Ashurst Outdoor Education Centre, soaking in the sunshine at Littlehampton beach, meeting farm animals at Bocketts Farm Park, and thrill seeking at Chessington World of Adventures.
The children enjoyed a great week of fun activities and loved the companionship of their helpers looking after them one-to-one. To reach the point of hosting the holiday for ten years is remarkable, and demonstrates the on-going commitment of so many talented and dedicated staff.Registered Manager, Neil Whitmore
During the week, the Community Holiday hosted a visitors’ evening to celebrate the ten year anniversary, and welcomed visitors to watch an exceptional fashion show, and join the nightly singsong. Many visitors commented on how heart warming of an event it was, and the enjoyment they took in seeing the children having such a great time.
The holiday offers unique social opportunities for our guests and staff alike. The feedback we receive every year demonstrates how invaluable the Community Holiday is, not only due to the support it provides to the children’s wellbeing but also the often much-needed respite it gives to parents/carers.
I never seem to have the right words to be able to appropriately thank you for the incredible week you give our children. It’s so special what you and all the wonderful helpers do for us. They had the most fun time, are very stimulated and gain independence in so many ways, and it’s given us some much needed precious one on one time with my eldest before they depart for university in a few weeks. It's wonderful to have the break knowing how happy and cared for my child is. Thank you so much.Parent
I always knew it was a very special week you organised but I can’t believe the change in my child, it’s absolutely wonderful. I never think there are enough words but we are so thankful for the holiday it’s so incredible in so many ways.Parent
Once again I had the best week, and I feel so honoured to have the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing organisation, and I know it would not be possible without all your hard work - so thank you.Community Holiday Volunteer
In celebration of the last decade and in honour of its St John’s roots, the Community Holiday will be renamed to the St John’s School Eagle Community Holiday, where everyone can soar. With sights set on 2024, the Community Holiday staff will commence planning and fundraising to keep building on the success year on year.