Christmas Comes Early!

Our association with Downe House School goes back many years now and they have offered us support in so many different ways from volunteering to busking on the streets of Newbury.

The most recent support was when they presented us with a cheque for more than £1,000 as a result of their fundraising activities at their Christmas Fair. The Castle School, Riding for the Disabled and Mary Hare School also received support from Downe House.

MORE THAN WE BARGAINED FOR!

Last week, several Heart FM presenters came to visit us at The Phoenix Resource Centre to present us with a cheque from Global FM as we were one of their chosen charities to benefit from their Global Make Some Noise Charity Appeal.

Global FM very generously agreed to donate £24,000 to us so that we can run a separate Outreach programme which means that we can now take our sensory experience to families who can’t get to us. A van and specialist sensory equipment have been bought and additional staff brought in to help carry out the outreach programme which will really help benefit families who need it the most.

What happened next was incredible. Rather than donating £24,000 Global FM gave us a cheque for more than £36,000. We have already agreed to spend the money on the same Outreach programme meaning that we can run it for two years now rather than just one.

We can’t begin to thank Global FM for their wonderful on-going support to us.

Point of Light Award for Sian Cook

Sian Cook, Founder of Swings & Smiles, was presented with the Point of Light Award by Richard Benyon MP at a recent fundraising event held at Englefield House.

Sian is the latest recipient of this award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “With Swings & Smiles, Sian has created a fantastic place where families with disabled children can play together in a supported environment. Thanks to her tireless fundraising and commitment, hundreds of families now have indoor and outdoor recreational facilities they can enjoy with other families who understand the additional challenges they face.  To those families, Sian is truly a Point of Light.”

 

Quiz Tarrant Success

An incredible £50,000 was raised on Friday evening at a quiz night hosted by Chris Tarrant OBE and patron of Swings & Smiles.

 

Held at the stunning Englefield House, home to Richard Benyon MP also patron of Swings & Smiles, guests enjoyed a three course dinner during which they took part in a light hearted general knowledge and pop quiz which saw many guests dancing to the music clues! 

The money raised will go towards setting up our own dedicated centre for our families and a potential new site of the Lower Way pavilion in Thatcham has been identified with a building that would meet our requirements along with outdoor space and in a very accessible location. This represents a significant undertaking and one for which funds raised will help us establish our long term future.

 

Substantial support from the Big Lottery Fund

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant of more than £300,000 from The Big Lottery Fund – what a great start to 2016! This incredible grant will allow us to continue running our much needed recreational facility at The Phoenix Resource Centre for families with special needs children for the foreseeable future.

We now have more than 230 families registered – no mean feat considering we only opened our doors in June 2014. The grant will go towards the running costs of the facility to ensure the continuation of our incredibly valuable service.

Sian Cook comments: “I can’t describe the pleasure we have seeing families visit us on a regular basis and watching the children and their parents benefit from their time with us. This is what I set out to achieve in 2007 and it is wonderful to see it come to fruition and to know we are helping to enrich their lives. Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund we now know we are able to continue to offer this essential service for years to come. Their endorsement gives us tremendous credibility and provides us with a secure platform on which to build for the future.”

Swings & Smiles has, as yet, not achieved its long-term goal of having its own dedicated site. Significant effort is being put into finding a suitable site and any future fundraising will be targeted toward achieving this.

Candlelight Carol Service

Friday evening marked our annual Candlelight Carol Service at St Marks Church.

Over 150 families and friends joined us at St Marks Church in Englefield for our annual Candlelight Service. It was an incredibly special evening with some of our families performing as part of the service. Our thanks also go to our readers who included Chris Tarrant OBE and patron of Swings & Smiles, James Puxley, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Mary Cameron, Patron of Swings & Smiles and Gareth James, Managing Editor of Heart FM.

It was a beautiful, happy service with a wonderful atmosphere in the most spectactular setting – the perfect way to kick off this festive season. Thank you to everyone who came along and joined us.

Christmas is Coming

On Friday 23 October, a Christmas Fayre was held in aid of Swings & Smiles at a lovely family home in Highclere.

Sarah, Pam and Lynn had worked incredibly hard to create a fabulous festive occasion with about a dozen stalls selling beautiful jewellery, handmade chocolates,, candles, stylish clothing and many more. The entry price of £3 included delicious homemade cakes. Everyone was incredibly generous with £600 being raised. We are incredibly grateful to all who were so generous and to Sarah, Pam and Lynn for choosing Swings & Smiles to benefit.

Spooky Spectacular

Our Halloween party this year was celebrated by over 50 children and very kindly supported by the Hilton Newbury.

The rooms and halls of the Phoenix Resource Centre were given a ghostly makeover on Friday 30th October when we held our annual Halloween celebration.

Children, parents and staff all got into the spirit and dressed up in their finest scary outfits to enjoy this special evening.

Alongside all the usual fun in the softplay room there were arts and crafts, jelly dipping, an amazing buffet and a rather noisy disco.  We all finished the evening off with a trip around the centre corridors knocking on doors and seeing if we would get a trick or a treat!

All money raised from the party will go towards the resources required to keep running play sessions at the Phoenix Resource Centre throughout the year.  A huge thanks to the Hilton for their support at this event.

 

 

Awesome Aerobathon!

Saturday 17th October saw the first ever Swings & Smiles Aerobathon.

Fitness instructors Suzi Moores and Sam Gromett put thirty-five of us through our paces for over 2 hours at Park House school to raise funds for Swings & Smiles.  Suzi’s daughter Lexie attends Swings & Smiles and along with brother Maxwell they always have a great time at the centre which inspired Suzi to want to lead this super event.

Fancy lycra and tutus were the order of the day and a very healthy £350 was raised.  We ended the morning with a pasta lunch and a mountain of cupcakes that had been kindly baked by volunteers from Downe House School.

Even though there were a lot of achy limbs the next day watch this space as we’ll be doing it all over again in 2016!!

Success Across The Board

Thursday 15th October was the evening of our race night kindly hosted by The Hare & Hounds in Speen.

The event was a sell-out and it was a fantastic evening of entertainment. A total of 8 races took place and thanks go to all our sponsors which include: The Hare & Hounds; Donnington New Homes; Content Wall; Newbury & District; Fisher Foods; TSB and Westronics.

Over £1,500 was raised and thank you to everyone who came along and supported us on the evening.