Forty years of holidays

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A little sunshine goes a long way

This year is the Family Holiday Association’s 40th anniversary.  I want the charity to use this major milestone to both celebrate our four decades of working on behalf of families but also to help us prepare for the years ahead as there is still much to achieve.

Have a look at our 40th Anniversary Brochure –

Since 1975, when Pat and Joan Laurance first set up the charity in their spare bedroom in north London, we have directly supported tens of thousands of families with a simple break away from home.  And, in recent years, we have helped to significantly raise the awareness of just how important and beneficial a break can be; particularly for those families who can least afford even the simplest of holidays.

Celebrating the charity’s roots, we have used Pat and Joan’s first fundraising drive as inspiration for our current 500 for 500 campaign and we plan to help re-create their famous Hampstead Garden Suburb street fair, inviting along some of the celebrities whom they had open those early events.  We recently found some vintage footage of Esther Rantzen visiting the 1979 street fair with her family. View here.

The charity will say a huge thank you to our present supporters and encourage them to share in our celebrations.  2015 will be a year when we make sure our message is heard by many more people and we aim to mobilise the latent support we know exists amongst everyone who intuitively understands a holiday is good for both them and their families.

We have set ambitious targets.  In 2015 we aim to raise enough money to ensure at least 4,000 families – a major increase on current numbers – can be helped in the following year. We will seek out more partnerships with like-minded charities, schools and tourism organisations, extend our relationships with universities and our friends in the corporate world.

The Family Holiday Association knows where it wants to go but is open to new opportunities and has nimbly embraced change.  I believe the charity has evolved into an exciting and highly effective organisation that punches well above its weight.  It will use the opportunity that 2015 presents to good effect.
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I joined the charity 14 years ago and it has been a great privilege to have worked with some wonderful colleagues, trustees and partners.  Having Peter Long join as President last year has been incredibly exciting.  Peter is the joint CEO and soon to be Chairman of TUI Group, one of the world’s largest travel companies.  Our long-standing relationship with TUI Group and their better known brands Thomson and First Choice has stretched back over 25 years and has been very important to the charity.

Of course, there have been disappointments and sadness too.  The recent death of trustee and former chair Ian Reynolds was a great upset to everyone here.  And, of course, our charity’s founder Joan Laurance, 93, will marking the anniversary without Pat, her husband and co-founder, who died in 2008.

This year our priority is to help as many families as possible and we will use every opportunity our 40th anniversary might provide to do just that.  Our charity has always wanted to help ever more families because we know our present, albeit laudable, efforts can only ever scratch the surface when over two million families are currently affected.

We need to use our resources to ensure that whatever direct support we can provide families, it will also be an example and an encouragement to others to replicate our work.  And we should do all we can to both facilitate and encourage the widening of access to breaks for struggling families.

A little bit of sunshine really does go a long way.

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