50 for Free 2018 - Feedback

2018 was the fifth year of the 50 For Free scheme - thanks to a generous private donor. Once again the feedback from the breaks that we received from benefiting organisations was amazing. The power of a restorative break for all seems to have been life affirming and a chance for many recuperate and re-bond away from daily life. Groups took part in many activities during their stays, from walking, playing games, canal boat trips, fossil hunting, star-gazing, visiting other local landmarks, taking time to reflect, comforting others, self-healing, it never ceases to amaze us how much can be packed into a Landmark stay.

Below are just a few extracts and images of the time enjoyed by different 2018 groups.

Balloons stayed at Silverton Park Stables running a bereavement memory weekend for a group of boys aged 9 to 12 whose fathers have died.

“It was a deeply meaningful experience for the children, volunteers and parents.  We feel that the children will take home with them a greater sense of their thoughts, feelings and actions, which has been informed by spending time with others who have also lost a parent.  It’s a great thing that you have enabled us to do.” - Joanne Overton-Pitts

Action for Asperger’s stayed at Cavendish Hall with a group of their Asperger and Autistic clients.

“Shy, socially awkward autistic adults managed to make friends with each other, chat, play and do all the regular things that neurotypical people find so easy to do. The confidence of our clients soared to dizzy heights for the first time in their lives” - Elaine Nicholson, MBE

Cancer Support UK stayed at Morpeth Castle giving a family whose son was diagnosed with leukaemia and is undergoing chemotherapy the chance for a break.

“It was our first time away as a family since his leukaemia diagnosis in May 2017. Benny had been staying in hospital numerous times over the past ten months. In December 2017, he was admitted to hospital six times. We felt like a fractured family of four…Our past weekend at Morpeth Castle was so good for recharging our batteries and doing family activities. We built puzzles, we kept the fire going as it was snowing outside, we drove to some awesome local attractions, we shared meals and we read. Benny enjoyed making and maintaining the fire. He attended to it and fed it all weekend. It was so he first time he had any freedom (since diagnosis) as we have instinctively wrapped in Benny in cotton-wool due to his immune-compromised health system from the on-going chemotherapy which runs for 3.5 years from diagnosis.” - Clare Jefferson

Surf Action stayed at Crownhill Fort taking military veterans affected by PTSD, physical injuries or those struggling to re-adjust to civilian life for a break.

“Everyone learned a lot about one another and the challenges they all faced in their day to day lives… by the fact there was no TV or broadband etc, everyone was able to participate in the discussions with a remarkable degree of concentration and honesty. This allowed much showing of emotion which would have otherwise been suppressed. This was humbling for all concerned” - Mark Wesson

CLIC Sargent stayed at Woodsford Castle giving a family whose daughter has been diagnosed with bone cancer the chance for a break.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this gift of a weekend – your donation has made such a difference and has sparked more of an interest in the children’s understanding of historical periods that they study at school” - Victoria Hatch

Just a Drop stayed at Woodsford Castle bringing together their regional teams to plan their charities strategy for the year.

“Without 50 for Free stays, charities like us would not get the opportunity to meet as a team or take the time for team bonding… the stay has helped bring up together.. we all feel refreshed and closer as a team” - Helen Hoang

Friends of the Earth stayed at The White House, focusing on two big projects away from the distractions of daily office life.

“Thank you! Without you, we would never have been able to get so much work done on our projects in a short period of time, and to enjoy quality time with colleagues. It was a true luxury and we’re very grateful!” - Lucie Gagniarre

Action for Children stayed at Auchinleck House taking away some of their deprived young clients.

“Our perceptions of the young people and their ability to adapt to new situations has been both surprising and encouraging. We did wonder how each young person would cope for different reasons, but each of them rose to their individual challenges and exceeded our highest expectations. We certainly bonded better as a group without the interferences of modern life” - Iain Clark

Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) stayed at The Grange bringing together young refugee asylum seekers.

“The best thing about the stay was for the young people to be together with their friends and spend the day and night together. We used the house as a retreat to cook, eat and meet together” - Fawzia Nabi-Worsley

StartUp (Online) stayed at Goddards running workshops and teaching new skills to young women in their Break the Cycle Project.

“A great memory to share this experience with such lovely people in such an amazing house with so much space, eating meals in the big dining room, and waking up to the sunshine through the windows I will never forget” -  Amy

Pete’s Dragons stayed at Wortham Manor bringing together a group of women who have all been affected by the suicide of loved ones.

“I feel different in myself, like my body and mind have been well looked after and I need to make sure this carries on” - India Sanderson

Rotunda stayed at Howthwaite bringing together a group of staff and ex-service users who have become volunteers to discuss their strategies for 2018.

“Our stay helped the organisation connect with our partners and plan future events to improve the health and wellbeing of our participants, as well as reinforce the importance of volunteering and teamwork. Building relationships locally away from the area in such an idyllic surroundings let us bond as a community group, and helped build confidence which has allowed us to improve support and extend our team to reach out to the wider community to improve engagement and participation” - Jean Barrett

Bolton Sensory Service stayed at Dolbelydr giving a family whose young daughter has severe sight impairment and son has just been diagnosed with autism.

“Straight away my son shouted big white house castle… he’s obsessed with castles so if he said it’s a castle house, it’s a castle house. The key was impressive…when we unlocked the door we instantly felt the homely feel… I really didn’t want to leave” - Louise Worsley

SELFA stayed at Bath Tower giving a family with difficult home circumstances the chance for a break.

“We really needed some precious family time. The sun shone beautifully the first day for a run around the ramparts of the castle and day 2 we were hunkered down as it snowed all day! Very thankful for the games and puzzles to keep us all entertained as we were ‘locked in the tower’!” Clare Cole

Dochas Carers Centre stayed at Saddell House giving a group of unpaid carers the chance for a break away from the responsibility of caring.

“Our first impression was the very warm welcome in such a large house, the amazing views from our ground floor double bedroom and, it personally took me back to childhood when I lived in an old farmhouse in Devon, on a much smaller scale with similar features. Maggie cooked a three-course meal for us every evening. We relaxed; we socialised round the log fire in the sitting room, met old friends and made new ones” - Diana Manning  


Organisations that benefitted from 50 for free stays in 2018

We offered midweek (4 nights) and weekend (3 nights) breaks in a wide range of buildings across England, Scotland and Wales. 

Action for Aspergers Kent Refugee Action Network
Action for Children Merchant Company of Edinburgh
Action for Conservation Merthyr Mencap
Balloons Midland Mencap
Bolton Sensory Service Nelson's Journey
Brighter Futures New Roots Housing Project
Campletown School Newham Woodcraft Folk
Cancer Support UK Northamptonshire Carers
Cherry Tree Nursery Pete's Dragons
Children's Hospice SW  Little Harbour         Rotunda  Ltd
Children's Hospice SW Charlton Farm SAVS - Folk Like Us Project
CLIC Sargent Devon SELFA
CLIC Sargent Gloucester Startuponline
CLIC Sargent Sheffield Surf Action
CLIC Sargent London  Survive
CLIC Sargent Liverpool Teens Unite Fighting Cancer
CLIC Sargent Surrey The Cara Trust
Dementia Adventure Little Miracles
Dochas Carers Centre VOCAL
Dorset Children's Foundation Yellow Submarine
Friends of the Earth Young Carers Together
Just a Drop One Parent Families Scotland

Funding permitting, we hope to run the 50 for Free scheme again in March 2019. Please look out for detail on this website for this in the autumn. While realising that for many people, a break of any kind is beyond their means, many Landmarks can be booked for much of the year for less than £20pppn, and some for less than £15pppn. Some of these can be viewed in our Excellent Value section.

If you work with disadvantaged families you may also like to look at the Family Holiday Association website. The FHA is a charity that works specifically to help struggling families get that much-needed break.

Find out more about the 50 for Free programme.