Yarmouth founded charity helps children swim with dolphins

A DREAM holiday to swim with dolphins in Florida left disabled youngsters beaming with delight.

The National Holiday Fund (NHF) charity for sick and disabled children, which was founded in Great Yarmouth in 1987, arranged once in a lifetime trips for a group of children last month.

Cerebral palsy sufferer Joe Himmon, 13, of Beccles and 12 year old Annabelle Morling of Great Yarmouth, who suffers from autism and epilepsy, were on the latest trip.

Their parents say the holiday is all their children talk about and they are urging others to back the NHF charity.

Annabelle’s dad Andrew said: “She had a wonderful time and she’s talked about nothing else since. The difference in her confidence has been phenomenal. This holiday made a big difference to all our lives.”

Children are accompanied by a nurse and a physiotherapist when they fly out to Florida as they have complex needs due to their disabilities.

They get the opportunity to enjoy things they never thought possible, like swimming with dolphins, going in helicopters with the Lake County Police Force and enjoying theme parks.

Most Read

Mr Morling, who works at Caister High School, added that while Annabelle was on holiday they had a break from being her full-time carers.

“It was a welcome break as she can be difficult to cope with,” he said. “Some of these children require such a level of care that they couldn’t possibly imagine going on holiday abroad with their family.”

He said they have been supporting the charity for a year and are organising fundraising events across the region.

Joe’s stepfather Mick Thacker said you cannot put a price on the good the holidays can do.

“It was a dream come true for him,” he said. “Some parents are scared to leave their parents for a week, but the charity were so friendly with Joe that he had a great time. There were other disabled children on the holiday and when they got home it was like they had known each other for years.”

Mr Thacker, who is a plumber, added the holidays gave him a rest from life as a carer.

The National Holiday Fund was founded by Norfolk man Malcolm Haddow and his son Mark, who is a Norfolk Police inspector, and is one of its trustees. Holidays cost around �40,000 per child due to the medical needs of the children.

A number of events are planned including an evening with Steven Treadaway at the Comfort Hotel in Yarmouth on February 10 next year, an Egyptian evening, a bingo night, a jewellery and bag party all to be held at charity members’ homes at dates to be confirmed.

Next year is the 25th anniversary of the NHF and members hope to gather in Hyde park in London in July to celebrate it.

A group of past and present volunteers and children and their families for a walk in the park and ending with a picnic. An event is also planned for June 2. It will be a 1940s night with a swing band at the Church Farm in Burgh Castle.

For details on local fundraising events or to see if your child is eligible for help from the charity, visit www.nhfcharity.co.uk