A short history

In 1960 George Eustance of West Kirby, was visiting his brother-in-law, who was recovering from poliomyelitis at Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool. George became aware of a large group of disabled children who were obviously in need of outside help in their battles to regain their independence. George asked Alastair Shaw, who had also contracted polio, to help him arrange a holiday for some of these children. So Alastair Shaw, Frank Lamb, and Councillor Arthur Norman Conway helped George to arrange a camp under canvas for children from the British Polio Fellowship in Liverpool.

This Camp was held on the playing fields of Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby.

Alastair formed a new Committee, Chairman Frank Vaughan Needham, a well known Heswall interior furnisher and Rotarian. Laurie Pearce, a local bank manager, was Secretary and the new Committee included Alastair Shaw, Frank Lamb, Charles and Alastair Kameen, Michael Byrne, Sheila Shaw, and Graham Baldock, and was registered as a charity.

It was decided that for 1962 a Boys’ Camp would be held at Liverpool Boys’ Association Camp at Heswall. Camp leader was Harold E “Waddy” Waddington, a Club Leader from Liverpool, after 20 years “Waddy” handed over to Dr. Martin Crossley Evans in 1982. Leadership passed to William Brown in 2005 and now to Andrew Powell, who has been a volunteer with HDCHF for 25 years and is registered with Ofsted as our Responsible Individual.

For over 30 Years Michael Byrne MBE steered the Charity forward, with the Camp later being held at Kingsmead School and then at Barnstondale Activity Centre, it’s current home. In 2012 the responsibility of Chairman Passed to Vinny Keating, who originally began his time at Camp as one of the boys, over 20 years ago. Vinny is also our Ofsted Registered Manager.

Michael Byrne MBE and Roy Wignall remain active within the Charity, as our President and Vice- President, working on our behalf with Sir Bert Massie, our Patron, to fight against discrimination and to liaise closely with MPs', The Department for Education, Ofsted and other agencies. Martin continues to serve both as a Camp Volunteer and also as our Volunteer Recruiter. Graham continues to keep our finances under tight control and both he and Martin remain a strong part of our Committee.

Our history is part of our strength. Each year all the helpers gather to pay thanks to Alastair Shaw, for all the hard work he and many others put in to start Heswall Disabled Children’s Holiday Fund and to honour those who continue to uphold those same principles that founded our Charity.

Those principles are to provide a fun packed, yet safe environment that is an independence inspiring week for disabled children from around the Wirral area, at no cost to their families. This in turn provides respite to their families. We achieve this by carefully recruiting and training our Volunteers, detailed planning and with a lot of enthusiasm.

Our Volunteers come from all over the UK, with continuous links to Manor Hall at University of Bristol since 1976. Such is the strength of the friendships built at camp, that the majority of our Volunteers return to support the Charity year after year. Volunteers are carefully selected and Enhanced CRB /DBS checked.

In 2011 the Charity underwent the registration process with Ofsted, and is pleased to have been approved for registration as a Children’s Home. In 2012, just one year after registration and on only our second Ofsted visit, we attained an Outstanding Report from Ofsted. You can download our registration certificate here.