A team of determined Mencap volunteers have raised an incredible £8,515 to take children with learning disabilities and their families on a special seaside holiday.
During the summer, Emma Cook and Donna Brown completed a tandem kayak along the Grand Union Canal from London to Birmingham, with fellow volunteer, Miranda O’Shea walking alongside.
‘Team High 5’, raised over £6,300 , and to end the fundraising in style, a special disco and “affordable auction” was held in Leighton Buzzard Conservative Club on Friday.
Emma said: “Now the challenge is over it’s a very strange sensation, and our chiropractor, Dr Jennifer Weintrop, did a sterling job!
“The Hi 5s club parents are now making a committee; the next stage is about where we will go, and we’ll approach a coach company.”
Miranda said: “We’re feeling accomplished - it’s hard to believe we have done it!
“We can’t physically see it, but once we are on the holiday and putting the pictures up on our Facebook, that’s when we’ll see what we’ve been looking to achieve!”
Donna added: “On our kayak trip we found lots of ‘treasure’ to auction, including a brand new baseball bat and size 12 Adidas ‘slides’!
“We also found a SpongeBob toy, and he’s now our mascot!
“The kayak trip seems so far away now, and we’ve been thinking, ‘what do we do with our Sundays’? That was training day!
“It will be good for the families to spend time together on the holiday and enjoy it.”
The team would like to thank Morrisons and Tesco, Leighton Buzzard, and Jordan Ephgrave and her colleagues at Stanbridge Road Co-op, for buffet donations, DJ Services Beds Herts and Bucks, the Conservative Club, and all sponsors and donators.
Hi 5s mum, Allison Smith said: “The only time I can be myself is when my daughter, Morgan, is at respite.
“We’re hoping that the children can do activities such as swimming, rock climbing, and zorbing!
“It will get Morgan used to people and social situations so she does not rely on me.
“Having a special needs child can be very lonely, and the holiday will be a chance for the mums to have a coffee and chill.”
MC for the evening, Graham Cook (Emma’s husband), said: “It was a shock when they wanted to do it - it’s typical Emma! But no matter what obstacles are in her way she still does it. There’s been lots of support and I was very proud that they made it.”
Dr Jennifer Weintrop, of Chirozone chiropractic clinic, said: “There were a couple of injuries leading up the kayak trip - Emma had a crick in her neck the day before!
“There was a lot of planning and training and they did that really, really, well. I think they thought it was going to be easier!
“But the team did a lot of work with the Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club and we did treatments afterwards to make sure everyone was OK.
“They did something out of their comfort zone and I’m so proud of them.”
Jordan Ephgrave, customer team member of Stanbridge Road Co-op, said: “To help ‘Team High 5’ we held an evening at work with a cake sale and a tombola.
“We also donated some food for tonight’s buffet. We’ve been following their journey and sharing their story on Facebook. What they’ve done is huge.”
Would you like to know more about Hi 5s club?
Hi 5s club is run by Leighton Buzzard Mencap, a charity for people with learning disabilities.
The club is run every Thursday for children with special needs between the ages of eight and 16 and involves brothers and sisters.
It provides “games, activities, friendship and fun in a safe environment”, supported by volunteers from schools and families.