“I just wanted to write and thank you/VICTA for the most amazing experience this weekend. I’m struggling to verbalise just what an incredible weekend we have had as a family. Aside from the obvious excitement for the children at being able to do all those amazing activities (and the parents!), the ability to just ‘throw’ our son in to the groups without all the extra work that usually entails the handing over of care to someone else of a VI child was a revelation. We have all come away with new friendships and a feeling of renewed enthusiasm for our unique family. I just can’t thank you enough. Many of us were in tears saying goodbye, I’m sure you’ve seen it all before, but I had no idea before coming on this weekend just what an enriching experience it would be. We are all so grateful. Thank you.”

This quote just about summarises everything about our recent family weekend! These weekends really are the highlight of our calendar, and we were thrilled to welcome 200 people to join us at PGL Liddington, over 50 of whom were completely new to VICTA. It was wonderful to share such a special time with everyone, and incorporate them into the VICTA family.

Ice breaker games  The Paddington Bear's group       

The excitement was palpable on the first morning as the children set off in their groups. Our band of volunteers were superb at settling the children in and encouraging them as they conquered new challenges and overcame old fears. As the children were kept busy, parents had the chance to meet one another, share stories and seek advice and support. We had seminars on PIP run by Action for Blind People/RNIB and EHCP run by Gurvinder Kaur from Access Legal. These seminars were very helpful and gave parents the opportunity to ask specific questions about their child’s situation.

Getting ready for abseiling

After lunch, the parents were treated to a superb presentation by some of VICTA’s 18+ participants. A lively Q&A session followed, covering everything from accessible apps to teenage dating! I think for many parents this was a highlight of the weekend, hearing stories about what these young people had achieved, and receiving useful advice about raising a VI child, from those who have direct experience.

Raft building

For those children who hadn’t been completely worn out by aeroball, quad biking, raft building and more, the evening offered a family campfire, complete with singing and marshmallows!

On Sunday, parents had the chance to prove they were as brave as their children as they threw themselves headfirst into all PGL had to offer! The children continued to exceed the expectations of parents, staff and volunteers, with their bravery and ‘can do’ attitude.

Braving the trapeze

Fancy dress was the name of the game on Sunday, and as per usual we were blown away with the effort that had gone into the costumes and the high levels of competitiveness – and that was just from the volunteers! Everyone looked amazing, and the dance floor was full all evening.

Alice and Wonderland fancy dress costumes

Mr Tickle costume at the story time themed fancy dress partyJack in the beanstalk costume

Book costume

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and after the last few activities on Monday, it was time to say goodbye. We can say with certainty that every child who attended left with new levels of confidence and achievement, and parents left with a renewed sense of hope and encouragement. Friendships were made that will span years and hundreds of miles, and will provide strength and support for years to come. This is the reason we run these weekends. And we can’t wait to do it all over again in August!

The tiger who came to tea family fancy dress costume

As always, a special mention goes to our volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend, and who we couldn’t do it without! Thanks also to all the families for joining us, entrusting your children to us, and being part of the VICTA Family!

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