Seriously ill children, together with their parents and siblings, enjoyed three days making magical memories at Camp Simcha’s first residential family retreats since the pandemic.

More than 320 family members from London, Manchester and Gateshead, attended the retreats in Daventry and Oxford on two consecutive weekends. They enjoyed an imaginative and packed programme of activities, including a concert with Shloime Gertner and Shayla Glick; outings to Thorpe Park and Legoland theme parks; children’s entertainers; science, circus skills and painting workshops, as well as pampering for parents and Segway tours.

With carers, nurses and doctors on site, all the children’s medical needs were cared for. This enabled their parents to have some much-needed respite, as well as a chance to benefit from time spent with others who understand their daily struggles.

One Camp Simcha parent explained: “When our baby was born extremely prematurely with life changing medical conditions, our life as we knew it changed. Everything turned upside down and we were thrown into a world of hospitals, diagnoses, trauma and fear. We switched into fight or flight mode and every day since has been a struggle.

“The Camp Simcha family retreat made us feel human again. After meeting all different families and experiencing the care and support of the Camp Simcha team it was the first time we felt we are not alone. We were finally able to relax and feel like ourselves again in over a year and a half.”

Camp Simcha chief executive Neville Goldschneider said: “We were overjoyed to be able to welcome families to our residential retreats for the first time since 2019 – something most of them had never experienced before.

“One of the main objectives of family retreats, apart from bringing joy and respite, is to create a feeling of achdus, so that families feel that they are part of something – a wider mishpocha that really understands their life and can mutually give each other chizuk.

“The look on some of the parents’ faces at the lunch and closing ceremony on the last day said just how much difference this had made to them, how it will carry them forward to continue facing the challenges they have to face.