Community Service/ Kids Out 2015

Wed 10th June 2015 at 9.30 am - 2.15 pm

We take disadvantaged children from Thriftwood School for a day out to Tropical Wings in South Woodham Ferrers

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KidsOut Day at Tropical Wings

This year annual Rotary KidsOut Day fell on June 10, and at the request of Thriftwood School, our chosen charity, a stalwart band of six club Rotarians took 31 disadvantaged children to the Tropical Wings zoo at South Woodham Ferrers – some eight or so years since we had been there before.

We were part of a day in which more than 100 venues and 10,000 Rotary volunteers made the Day Out the success that it is.

The first Rotary KidsOut Day Out took place in 1990 and since then up to 25,000 disadvantaged children have been taken on a fun day out every year.  The Day Out is delivered nationally in conjunction with Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (Rotary GB&I) and provides the children with an experience that brings both fun and happiness into their lives. A Day Out could be as simple as visiting the seaside, zoo or theme park but for the children who attend, this is often a once in a lifetime experience. 

So what happened?  The sun shone, the animals were unbelievably active and noisy, the butterflies brilliant, the meerkats funnier than even in the TV ads and the kids – well, just wonderful.

In their smart new-look KidsOut T-shirts with the smiley face logo and their blue caps (all specially designed by Rotary for the event), they were a superb bunch of excited, well-behaved and happy kids – it was a delight to “act” with them.

We six were there to enjoy their company and give moral support to the eleven staff and carers whose patience and understanding of the problems never ceases to amaze us. They did the hard work, shepherding and controlling the “crocodiles” - this with something like seven or eight other coach parties of children all wanting to see the same things.

We were all impressed with the Tropical Wings organisation.  A meet and greet staff member on every coach on arrival to explain everything (something that we did not encounter at previous venues), great help with any queries regarding our picnic zone – in the Jungle Room appropriately - and easy access to toilets and hand-washing, essential since, like all children, the Thriftwood pupils were anxious to stroke as many animals and birds as they could.

Debra Stanley, teacher and leader of the school pack of volunteers, was fulsome in praise. “We cannot thank the Rotary Club of Billericay enough for our lovely day and for the superb picnic provided.  We do hope we can come back here next year.”

My thanks to our volunteers, organisers Trevor Bond and Norman Bishop, Ed Harrison, Peter and Wendy Greene and James Ilesley – and to Peter and James who ensured that everything and everybody was captured on camera.  Also to Phillips coaches for their excellent delivery and return (an email has been sent to them) and to Tina and her staff at "Enjoy ... Cakes ~ Cafe" in Billericay High Street, for supplying such a magnificent picnic at low cost (Norman Bishop has written to her personally to thank her.)  Tropical Wings have been thanked for their excellent support.

As the pupils lined up to go back, these were some of the comments to the question: What did you enjoy most:
“The parrots, especially the one who said “Hello” to me.....the butterflies.... the meerkats... the lunch!”
And there was the staff member who weighed in with “the lovebirds”.....Didn't we all! Ah ,happy memories!

A Hollywood star once said: “Never act with kids nor animals. They'll steal all your thunder and you'll end up loving or hating them.” And, to paraphrase the song “We're all going to the zoo tomorrow.” Well, we did.  And we loved it.