Fund Raising And Fond Memories Of Silverdale

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Silverdale is one of the charities supported by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Thomas Murray. As part of his LOFFTY project (Leeds offers fun for the young) the Lord Mayor recently held a golf tournament to raise money for the charity.

This is what he had to say:

“Silverdale is a fantastic charity, which for over 100 years has provided somewhere where disadvantaged children can enjoy holidays and respite in a safe and secure environment. The Lord Mayor’s office in Leeds has enjoyed extremely close ties with Silverdale over the years, and each year the Lady Mayoress assumes the position as president of the charity. When the opportunity arose therefore to include Silverdale in our charity golf day we jumped at the chance and I am delighted to say the tournament was a great success. The money raised from this LOFFTY event will go to Silverdale, and I look forward to seeing the great work that they do, continue for many, many years to come.”

The following memories have been sent to us by Verlie McCann of the Leeds Children’s Charity:

John from Wakefield enjoyed a holiday in 1955

“I was taken to Great George Street office of Leeds Children’s Holiday Camp Association to go to Silverdale. Firstly there was a name check, then I was given some black boots, grey socks and khaki corduroy shorts, grey shirt and short green wind-jammer coat to change into before the bus journey to Silverdale camp.

On arrival at camp we took a tour and were given a bunk bed to sleep in. After introductions and a meal we were left to entertain ourselves. I remember peeling potatoes in a hand revolving potato machine with a lid, and washing up.

There were days of exploring in woods and playing games on the beach, swimming in the pool outside but best of all were the races. I made friends with two brothers, one who I beat in all the races. This upset him so in the last race I was going to let him win but was told not to as this would teach him that in life we have to learn to lose before we win. The lesson I learnt was to do your best win or lose. The highlight of the stay at Silverdale was we were challenged to drag a boulder from the beach up through the woods to the camp. This boulder was the biggest any group of children has achieved. I believe a plaque adorns this boulder in the front grounds. Thank you to all the people of yesteryear who provided the dream holiday for us to participate in.”

Elaine visited twice in 1959 and 1960

“I was 10 years old the first time I visited Silverdale along with my 8 year old sister. The second visit a year later was on my own. I remember going to Great George Street to get changed into Silverdale clothes. When we arrived we were put into teams in order to compete for a large silver cup which was awarded to the best team at the end of the fortnight.

I have lots of memories which include; a cold outdoor swimming pool with swimsuits that collected water and ended up around your knees if you didn’t fasten it tight enough! The TV room where you watched TV in the dark with a sweet trolley that was brought round, being taught how to do apple pie corners on the dormitory bed (which I still do), Sunday walks to church, the ‘giants footprint’ and looking in rock pools on the beach. I also fondly remember the hot cocoa or orange juice and a biscuit which you had in the big kitchen before you went to bed.”

We also received some reader’s memories, of which a couple are printed below:

Mrs M Hibbitt from Tong

“I was reading your advert in the Yorkshire Reporter referring to Silverdale children’s camp, I went there over 50 years ago. I come from a large family, and begged my mother to go as my older brother had already been before me. I loved it there, the fairy ring, the pepper pot, the swimming pool. I think we stayed two weeks. My mum and dad sent me parcels with sweets and stamps etc which was great to receive. I remember we wore these dresses and knickers. Some of my friends went from school too. As I am a lot older now I’ve been to many places in the world and been very lucky. But I still look back on Silverdale with such happy memories. Thanks to them for making it possible, as children we didn’t and could afford to go away.”

Sarah from north Leeds went in 1990

I came from a single parent family and was lucky enough to be able to go to Silverdale on holiday in 1990. This was a real treat for me and my mum was really happy for me to go as she always felt guilty that we couldn’t afford holidays. On arriving there I met up with another girl named Claire and we had great fun on the beach and swimming in the pool. There were also lots of group games and activities. The staff were very friendly and looked after us well, I really enjoyed my stay at Silverdale and I’m pleased this service is still available to children today.”

J Baxter wrote a poem for charity back in April 1915 in order to help with fundraising:

The Children’s Needs
From highway and bye-way,
and dark dismal alley,
The cry of the children comes
shrill on the breeze,
They long for a glimpse of
the hillside and valley,
The fields and the flowers,
and leaf-laden trees.
Those wan, weary faces
proclaiming the story
Of poverty, sorrow, of sadness
and woe,
Of lives spent in darkness,
and wanting the glory
Of sunshine and gladness to
cheer as they go.
Children of men, who, maybe,
fight the battle
Of Empire on fields far away
from their kin,
And yet spare a thought ‘mid
the roar and the rattle
For bairnies, who cry they can
hear thro’ the din.
Shall we forget them?
Enjoying their pleasures;
Or shall we remember?
And help to impart
A feeling so joyous, in
o’er-flowing measure,
That earth becomes Heaven to
each youthful heart.
They’re somebody’s bairns, though
forlorn, poor and lonely,
A’thirsting for sunlight and God’s
pure, fresh air;
Then generously give of your
bounty, if only
To make for a while their
vision more fair.
The boys and girls of today
must be cared for,
Their young lives made happy,
and helped in the strife,
That they in the coming years
may be prepared for
The strenuous work in the
battle of life.

Frances McNeil an ex-Silverdaler and local author wrote a book called ‘Now I am a Swimmer’ to celebrate the centenary of the charity in 2004. The book documents the first 100 years of the Silverdale Holiday Centre. It includes lots of letters from people who were provided with a holiday at Silverdale as well as the history of the charity and the holiday centre. The book comes highly recommended.


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