Whilst little is known as to the origins of the fund, it is believed to be related to the Stoke on Trent Children’s Holiday and Convalescent Home, which operated in Rhyl for 50 years, from 1925 until 1975.
Situated in Chester Street, behind the promenade, the large old house was largely financed through the efforts of teams of fund-raising volunteers in all six Stoke on Trent towns.
Former Lord Mayor’s Secretary, Don Edwards, who took charge of the management committee in it’s last five years, says children aged between four and thirteen were recommended for a fortnight’s holiday, either on medical grounds or through home circumstances. “All the children were weighed at the start of the holiday and again at the end”, he says. “In some cases they had put on as much as seven pounds during the fortnight.”
The fund is now administered by the Staffordshire Community Foundation following a joint resolution of Stoke on Trent City Council and the trustees of the original fund. The age range has also been extended, providing holiday’s and short breaks for children in need, between the ages of 5 and 18.
“In the 1930s when I was about ten, I was sent to Rhyl Homes for a holiday. I lived in Anchor Place in Longton with my parents and I was the youngest of five children. My dad worked in the pits at first but he got out and became a bricklayer. He was pretty good at that. The doctor said I was a bit weak, although I never thought of myself as weak at the time, and he got me into Rhyl Homes for a fortnight.
A bus picked me up from school and then picked others up before setting off for North Wales. Rhyl Homes, or the Stoke-on-Trent Children’s Holiday and Convalescent Home to give it its proper name, was a big house behind the prom. When I got there, I didn’t know anyone. They put me on my own upstairs but I didn’t want that. I wanted to be with the rest and eventually they sent another lad up who’d also come from Longton.
It was a decent place with nice grounds where you could walk or play football but I was never a football man. We’d never had a ball anyway, just rolled up newspaper. We got our meals provided and the food was really good. It was much better than I was used to. The people in charge were very decent and tried to do their best for us. Sometimes they’d organize games for those who were capable of joining in and if you could help out they got you helping them.
I didn’t have any chores to do so I’d just walk out and go around Rhyl with some of the others. We’d look around the shops. We never went on the donkeys. They said we might catch things but we couldn’t afford it anyway. In the evenings I’d read a bit and then go to bed. My father and mother came once to see how I was going on. I remember telling them I’d be glad to get home but I did enjoy it there.
I went to Rhyl several times afterwards but I never went back to the house. I’d got more money then so there were other things I could do. Going to Rhyl Homes certainly did me good, though, and opened my eyes a bit, mixing with other people. I was one of the lucky ones, able to go there for a holiday”
Letter published in ‘The Evening Sentinel’, regarding the Stoke on Trent Children’s Holiday and Convalescent Home, from Eric Bettany