I remember walking in and being met by Linsay and just being made to feel so welcome that I instantly felt like I belonged and it wasn't long before I became a committee member. Back then, Hiccups was only stay and play. And we stayed like this for a little while. We'd meet every two weeks for fun and games, craft session and singing sessions. We threw birthday, Halloween and Christmas parties and had a lot of fun, made a lot of new friends and found support with each other.
But then the inevitable started. Our kids grew up. They started school and although we stayed in touch and had lots of lovely new families joining us all the time we missed them. And they missed us. I know this because my own kids had started school and they often wanted to come with me to the sessions instead of school. By now we were doing our annual fundraising ball. We had a little bit of money in the kitty and were wondering how we could use it so that it would best benefit our families. So our monthly family fun days was born! Open to children of all ages we offered discount days out for families to a variety of places. Families could choose which events to come on and find support in a big group going to the same place. These turned out to be immensely popular and when you get an email from a family to say that they would never have gone to such a place by themselves as they were too worried it really does remind me what Hiccups is all about. One of our favourites has to be the cinema. As we have grown and been able to afford bigger and better events, we have started to hire out the cinema room to just hiccups. What this means for families was that they did not have to worry if their child called out or wanted to run around. I have this one memory of one little boy on our first trip running up and down the slope. We'd kept the lights on dim, it was safe and he was enjoying himself and bothering no one - so why not! And that to me is what these events are all about.
Since then we've continued to move onto new things. Wherever we see a gap we've endeavoured to fill it. We've started an Outreach Programme for those families not quite ready to meet a big group but who need the support and a listening ear. We've had a year of pain with a bunch of courageous and fantastic people who put themselves through an inordinate amount of torture to raise funds for a Kandoo Buggy - an all terrain wheelchair. A target that we not only reached but smashed due to the enthusiasm of the Hiccup Conquerors and sponsors and managed to purchase not one but two Kandoos.
And we don't intend to stop there. Our plans for the future are as exciting as our plans that we had in our past. You'll have to keep an eye on our blog for what these plans are...I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!
So 6 years. It's not long but wonderous things have happened in those six years and it is a privilege to meet every family that walks through our doors and we can only hope that they find what they need with us. If not, tell us - we like a challenge!
And many thanks to everyone who joined us for our 6th birthday party and the stunning Royal Armouries venue with the highly entertaining and colourful Shebang Theatre group who managed to keep every one of our children entertained with their theatrics. It was certainly a birthday to remember!
Here's to the next exciting year (and watch this spot as I KNOW that the next bit of exciting news is soon to be revealed!)