12:00am Monday 17th July 2000
THE chance to get away on holiday is something most of us treasure, indeed planning a break occupies a huge amount of our time.
But think what life would be like if a holiday was not just out of reach but not even a remote possibility.
That is the reality for hundreds of needy children from all over the county who, for a variety of reasons, would not normally have the chance to escape to the seaside for a few days.
The Wiltshire Children's Holidays charity has been organising breaks for underprivileged children for 37 years and, because of its efforts, 200 children from across Wiltshire had the chance for a break, probably the only holiday they have ever had.
But now even that chance has been taken away from 50 of them because of a funding crisis facing the charity.
It needs to find £8,000 in the next two weeks or another 50 young victims of abuse, children from broken homes, residents of children's homes, youngsters whose parents are suffering serious illness or those from impoverished families will have to be told they will miss out.
The charity has been supported by Wiltshire County Council's Social Services department and quite rightly because it is providing an invaluable respite for the council's careworkers while the children are away.
The charity is also giving the youngsters something special a release from their surroundings and a chance to enjoy the kind of experience other children take for granted.
The volunteers who accompany the children provide companionship and inspiration away from the pressures of their home life.
The council has contributed just £2,000 towards this invaluable and unique service, this is plainly not enough and it should look at finding some more money urgently.
Other councils have also been approached for money to help. Kennet District Council says it has no record of an application for £1,000.
Meanwhile North Wiltshire District Council has offered a paltry £200 councillors there should be ashamed of themselves.
Nevertheless there is still time to rescue the situation. Kennet could still process the missing application as a matter of urgency, and North Wiltshire could think again about its miserly offer. The ball is in their court...
There is also an opportunity for a local businessman to earn some magnificent publicity. If anyone wants to talk to the Gazette about donating the money they can ring us on the number above.
Make no mistake, this is a worthwhile cause that can make a real impact on youngsters whose lives desperately need someone to make a difference.
The businessman or individual who can save these youngsters' holidays will be providing an experience that changes their lives for the better.
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