March 1, 2022 7.00 am

Much-loved ‘Skeggy Home’ gives disadvantaged kids a holiday

A chance for kids to have first holiday by the sea in two years

A children’s charity in Skegness, which celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2021, is preparing to give hundreds of disadvantaged children a holiday by the sea.

The first 14 primary aged kids will be making the trip from Derby to Skegness on March 7, to the charity holiday centre to spend five days enjoying the beach and seaside attractions.

Organised by the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre, this is the children’s first break at the charity’s specialist centre, known affectionately as ‘Skeggy Home’, since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. The charity normally pays for more than 600 children a year to enjoy a seaside holiday.

Youngsters are nominated from homes where there is significant hardship, and it is felt otherwise they might not get a holiday at all.

Kids enjoying the beach courtesy of the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre, otherwise known as ‘Skeggy Home’, in 1975 | Photo: Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre

The charity was set up in 1891 by friends Harry Sykes and Arnold Bemrose, after Harry met a group of young boys sailing a boat on a puddle whilst walking through a deprived area of Derby. With their parents’ permission, Harry and Arnold took the boys on a day trip to Skegness, and a holiday house was set up a year later.

A total of 223 children enjoyed a holiday in the following year, and by 1898 funds had been raised to build a new centre.

The charity is well established in Skegness and many local businesses support the work it does and the children that come to stay. Admissions to Skegness attractions and food prices are often cut in price to give the children a great holiday.

Girl leaping for joy on holiday at ‘Skeggy Home’ | Photo: Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre

Charity chairman Alan Grimadell said: “It’s been a long time that the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre has not been able to perform the role that we are known for – providing seaside breaks for children who badly need them.

“COVID has been a difficult period for everyone and particularly for children who usually so look forward to spending a week with us at our centre in Skegness. For many of them, it’s the only holiday they get so we’ve been desperate to re-open for them when the time is right.

“I’m so delighted that the first bus-load of happy children will be travelling from central Derby to Skegness for the week.

“We are looking forward to opening up our centre for the whole season this year so hundreds of children can once again enjoy the simple pleasures of a week by the sea: making sandcastles, jumping the waves – these are the things that they sorely need, and our charity is there to give them that carefree time.”

The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre dignitaries (l-r): Sandra Raymond, Dianne Kay, Ali Byerley, the Mayor and Mayoress of Skegness, Trevor and Jane Burnham, the Mayor of Derby, Robin Wood, the Mayor of Derby’s Consort, Andy Flint, and Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre chairman Alan Grimadell, pictured centre. | Photo: Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre

Ali Byerley, manager of the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre in Skegness, said: “It’s so lovely that we can welcome children again to have the holidays they so need. Even though we’ve been closed for two years, local businesses have not forgotten us.

“I can’t really put into words how much I’m looking forward to them coming back. It’s about children having fun. That’s what it’s all about. This house is just a house but with children in it, it’s a home.”

To donate £4 a month to support the charity text DCHCMILLION to 70085.

A horse and trap carting children around on their ‘Skeggy Home’ holiday. | Photo: Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre