'The most magical impact' - 5,000 Yorkshire children given holidays through Principle Trust charity

Yorkshire-based charity The Principle Trust has now provided holidays or respite breaks for 5,000 children in the region. Laura Reid looks at its impact.

For several months, Sally Richardson kept a secret that she knew would warm the hearts of her two daughters. For the first time ever, she was taking them on holiday – and she was able to do so thanks to the generosity of total strangers.

Last November, Sally, who requested to use a pseudonym to protect her identity, was offered the break by The Principle Trust Children’s Charity. Based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, it aims to improve the quality of life of children from across the region, who are underprivileged, disadvantaged, or disabled, through the provision of free holidays and respite breaks. The charity is celebrating a major milestone, having provided holidays now for 5,000 children.

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Sally and her family were referred to the organisation by a community and young people centre in Hull, which her oldest daughter, Storm (not her real name), attends. The respite break, which the family went on in May, was transformative, she says, coming just after Storm received an autism diagnosis, following years of assessments and bids for support.

The Principle Trust Children's Charity provide holidays and respite breaks. Photo shows children holidaying at one of the trust's lodges.The Principle Trust Children's Charity provide holidays and respite breaks. Photo shows children holidaying at one of the trust's lodges.
The Principle Trust Children's Charity provide holidays and respite breaks. Photo shows children holidaying at one of the trust's lodges.

Telling news of the holiday to the girls, who she has home-schooled since the first Covid lockdown, is something that Sally will never forget. "They were just stunned at the kindness of strangers,” she says. “They both cried happy tears.”

Sally lives with a chronic illness and is not able to work. Without donations made to the charity to cover the cost of the break, a holiday would have been out of reach. “We sit back and watch other people having summer holidays and put a paddling pool up in the back garden because that’s the position we’re in,” she says. “We’ve never complained about that, we’re happy with that, we were having amazing summers. However, a holiday was something we were missing and something we wouldn’t be able to have without the trust.”

"The cost would have been too much,” she continues. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. I wasn’t in a position to be able to pay for the accommodation and the travel and supply everything we’d need for the week so it’s really amazing that the charity exists and are doing what they do. There’s so many really kind people who have made a choice to donate to the charity and that choice, that gift, landed in our lap and made the most magical difference to us and our outlook.”

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The family spent their break at Marton Mere in Blackpool, where four of the charity’s six holiday homes are located. The children, Sally says, were able to take part in activities such as rock climbing and archery and saw sites and views of the country they hadn’t before. “It broadened our horizons. It gave us a lot more opportunities with home education before we went as well, learning about places we were going to or passing through on the journey there and back.”

A family enjoy a respite break in Windermere.A family enjoy a respite break in Windermere.
A family enjoy a respite break in Windermere.

Sally’s is one of the many families who have been supported by the trust, who talk of making memories that will last for a lifetime. For Mavis Arthur, who lives in Leeds with her four children, the holidays have provided an opportunity for the family to go away together, an opportunity they would not otherwise have had. “We share special times, we play, we share laughter,” she says. “I’m forever grateful…When I told my children the most recent time that we were going to the caravan, they all shouted with excitement. You could see their joy.”

Stephanie Machin and her family, from Rotherham, benefitted for the first time this year, holidaying near Lake Windermere. Steph is out of work, caring for her three children, the oldest of whom has an autism diagnosis and the younger two who have sensory issues and are being assessed too.

“The three of them can be very overwhelming, especially as a group so more often than not we miss out on opportunities to get out and about,” she says. Her own health condition – epilepsy – can add to the challenges. “Money is very limited. And due to my children’s needs, there has also been time when my partner has to take time out from work which then reduces his income. This year we wouldn’t have had a holiday at all, had it not been for The Principle Trust.

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“The holiday provided us with an opportunity to be together as a family. We made the most of the days we had together. The boys don’t always cooperate very well but in the setting they seemed to flourish. I don’t know what it was but they really did enjoy each other’s company and the facilities that were there.”

Perhaps the biggest impact for Sally and her family was “feeling seen” - and her daughters have now been inspired to help others by the story of charity founder Mike Davies. He set up The Principle Trust in 2011, driven by recollections of his own difficult childhood, after his mother died of cancer when he was aged just five.

“I didn’t appreciate it then but when I look back, I realise I must have been one of these underprivileged and disadvantaged children for not being able to grow up with the love and comfort of a mum,” he previously told The Yorkshire Post. “Life was tough. Money was tight and my dad couldn’t always afford new clothes. We never really had holidays or outings...We didn’t enjoy an awful lot of the things we saw other children enjoying.”

Through the charity, Mike and his team are able to help children who have difficulties such as long-term or life-limiting illnesses, disabilities or additional needs, or mental health issues, or those who live in poverty or with the effects of trauma. "My children have taken inspiration from Mike and his story,” Sally says. “They want to raise money for charity. It’s got their minds ticking about what they can do to make other people feel like they’re not forgotten.”

For more information about the charity, visit theprincipletrust.co.uk