Charity Patron John Carter says everyone deserves a holiday

Featured as part of the Daily Mirror ‘Give Kids a Seaside Smile’ summer campaign. Read more about the appeal on the Mirror online here.

“I want to ask you about your holiday – the one you’ve just had, the one you are about to take or, maybe, the one you’re enjoying now. Do you think you need it?

John Carter, Family Holiday Association Patron

“Okay, stupid question. Of course you need it. Who doesn’t?

“So consider this irony. Those who desperately need a break from the despair of their stricken lives, are the very people who can’t afford one.

“Like most of us, they were managing to make ends meet – with enough left over for a holiday to recharge the mental and physical batteries.

“Then it happens. A young mother succumbs to cancer.

“A dad is injured at work. A child is diagnosed with a life-changing illness. And everything comes crashing down.

“The welfare state provides some financial support, but that is meant to cover the basics.

“No frills, no treats. Certainly no holidays.

“Which is where the Family Holiday Association comes in.

“Working with social services departments and others throughout the country, it provides modest holidays for people who desperately need them.

“Last year [in 2018], 3,820 families were helped. It cost around £1.5 million pounds – every penny from donations, or raised by enterprising individuals, many of whom work in the often-maligned travel trade.

“A trade which also helps with discounted fares and accommodation, and doesn’t make a fuss about doing it.

“Next year the FHA hopes to help 5,500 families.

“So let me mention this: after their holidays, children write “thank you” letters to the FHA.

“Most describe the new found joys of exploring rock pools, making sandcastles, paddling in the sea.

“But, for one seven year old girl, the thrill of the holiday was, for the very first time, ‘….seeing Mummy and Daddy holding hands.’

“Please think about that. And, maybe, think about helping us.

“Unlike the folk whom FHA helps – but like most of my generation – it was not poverty, but history, that delayed my first holiday, and my first sight of the sea.

“I remember walking with my father along a street that led up to a narrow strip of parkland, the Sunday morning sun warm on our backs, the smell of frying breakfasts wafting from boarding houses.

“Beyond the park was Babbacombe Bay – a vivid blue, just like the Reckitts Dye poster displayed in my aunt’s corner shop, back home in Worcester.

“It was July, 1946. I was eleven years old.”

Daily MirrorJohn Carter is a former presenter of Wish You Were Here, and Patron of the Family Holiday Association

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