Barry, Jasmine and I arrived at White Spires Special School in Bletchley at around 08:45. We were greeted by the deputy head who thanked us for taking the children out for the day.
We were then escorted to the children's classrooms and introduced to everyone, where more thanks were bestowed on us. As it turned out, it was a bit premature because the coach was 40 minutes late. It did finally arrive and we were on our way by 09:50.
While we were waiting for the coach, I had the chance to speak to one of the teachers and she told me there were around 114 children at the school. This number was to rise with an expected intake of Key Stage 1 children in the near future. All of the children have a server special educational need and one thing that surprised me was that the majority rarely, if at all, go away for holidays which makes these trips all the more important.
Other local Rotary clubs have taken them to Whipsnade Zoo and the last trip included the children's families.
I overheard one of the teachers telling another that a risk assessment for the trip was taken for every child to ensure all eventualities were covered.
All the children were very excited and while waiting for the coach during the unexpected delay, they watched a video of the park. I wasn't sure that was a good idea as it heightened their expectations and excitement before a long coach drive..
The coach trip itself was uneventful and the children were well behaved. A few of them required constant attention and we didn't get "are we nearly there yet?" until halfway into the journey. We arrived at 11:20 to rousing cheers.
Everyone was quickly off the bus and followed by a walk up the hill to the food hall where they all received a KidOut hat and lunch which was provided. All the children (and Jasmine) got a Christmas present from Santa, who was escorted by his two elves. Once everyone was replenished and comfortable everyone scattered all over the park in their various groups to enjoy what the park had to offer.
The weather forecast was pretty accurate, it snowed every hour on the hour in Thomas the Tank Engine land.
Throughout the afternoon there were cheers, screams and a lot of laughter, and that was just the teachers!! Jasmine, Barry and I went on some of the rides and we met up with Rob Martell and Tim Noble from Northampton Beckett who were there with some young carers.
Eventually, 3:00pm arrived and it was everyone back on the coach to go home. I got some feedback from some of the children on the journey back and the best bits were "the rides - all of them", "the snow" said another. There was a lot of laughter and comparing of experiences on the journey home and I think from that it was a successful day out.
When we got back to the school we were thanked by everyone yet again, and on Facebook the next day was more thank-yous.
For me, it was a privilege to be there with them and to see their happy faces throughout the day. This really was "Rotary Making a Difference!".