More than 60 families of sick and terminally-ill children will be given respite breaks in South Ayrshire after a donation of more than £20,000 from a leading Glasgow family firm.
Sunshine Wishes Children’s Charity, which is based in Bishopbriggs, was established seven years ago by Linda Ford, who has spent most of her working life in the charity sector.
It was forced to extend its work during the Covid-19 pandemic – and more recent economic crises – from making dreams come true for sick and disadvantaged youngsters to more generally helping families across Scotland.
The charity has a caravan at Craig Tara Holiday Park, where families can go for short respite breaks and approached Allied Vehicles Charitable Trust for support with the facility. AVCT is giving them a total of £23,100 over the next three months to fully finance the caravan for an entire season, which will enable more than 60 families of sick and terminally-ill children to have short breaks there, including food and activity passes.
“What wonderful news, thank you,” said Linda on being told about the AVCT donation.
“There’s always the worry that the funds don’t come in to pay for the caravan – that’s the biggest thing, the peace of mind. And obviously, the more children who get down there, the better. Those who have been to the caravan, their feedback has been absolutely amazing and heart-warming. Honestly, this is just absolutely fantastic news.”
Linda says she initially set up her charity to grant wishes to sick and terminally-ill children and underprivileged families but had to prioritise where support was most needed during the pandemic, which massively increased their workload.
The need for their support has increased weekly since 2020 and they work closely with many organisations – more than a dozen nurseries, including five where they have set up food pantries, local health visitors, social workers and other community partners.
Their caravan at Craig Tara was hugely successful in its first season and they have been inundated with requests, resulting in the creation of a waiting list. Linda says: “A family trip includes food for the duration of their stay, free activity passes, a privilege card which allows 15% off all shops on site and 50% off paid activities."
“The families can enjoy a holiday they would otherwise not experience with no financial burden. There are over 60 families use the caravan per season. Some go for three nights, some for four."
“We’ve got one just now away for a week, so it just depends on the families themselves because most of them are underprivileged and they’re struggling on a day-to-day basis, but we do supply food for the duration of their stay."
“While the addition of our caravan brings more work, most importantly it brings greater enjoyment seeing the children’s faces and listening to the heart-warming feedback from the parents.”
Allied owner Gerry Facenna said the charity’s work and commitment were impressive:
“Sunshine Wishes may have started off making dreams come true for children and families, but the way they’ve adapted to new demands is a testament to the commitment of Linda and her team."
“We had no hesitation in giving them more than our monthly charity budget, to pay for the caravan and I hope the families who go down to Craig Tara enjoy their time in South Ayrshire.”