July 2012 Update

Welcome to the latest news bulleting from the charity. I apologise it’s been a long time coming. That because as you will see we have been very busy. Some exciting stuff along with some frustrating things as well.

As I write I have just booked 9 youngsters onto a residential at the cottage in Finland for the last week of the month. We are indebted to the Balmain Trust for paying for this week. During our days fishing at Dever Springs Stewart Balmain asked how much a week would cost at the cottage I said about £3,000 (which includes absolutely everything from food through diesel to equipment) he said he would cover the cost of the week. Whether it’s the Olympics or our lateness in booking but yesterday I booked the air tickets and they have never been so expensive £3,600 for 11 seats!! It brings in to question the two weeks in August that we have already organised with the youngsters and indeed the future characteristic use of the cottage. It’s a dilemma that is illustrative of the whole nature of running the charity in this present economic climate, cuts and compromises everywhere!!

However... here we are and here is the update for you, I hope you find it interesting.

Project Transformation

It’s been a while since you last had an update on the project and much has happened. Its rather exciting actually if not a little challenging as well.

We have so far been given or promised £109,320 towards the purchase of Solent Nurseries our good neighbours. The donations have slowed down a bit of late and we had the disappointing news that neither the Clothworkers or the Garfield Weston Foundation would support the project and I had felt that together they could have made the whole thing possible in the limited time we had. Just as we had begun to consider the unthinkable we had an offer from the family who own the Nurseries that has transformed the whole project. The offer is mutually beneficial to both parties and is most generous and accommodating at the same time. I have liaised with almost all our sponsors and nearly all have got back to me in agreement, no one has said no.

The offer is that we exchange contracts now with a deposit of £100,000 with a completion date in 2 years time. In the meantime we will take over the running of the site and have full benefit of its facilities with the exception of the house where the present owners will continue to live until such time as the sale goes through and they have the capital to buy suitable accommodation. Should the unthinkable happen and we fail to raise the remainder of the balance then our deposit would be refunded upon the sale of the property to someone else on the open market. Thus the families immediate needs are taken care of but our (your) money is safe, if a little tied up for a period. This is a marvellous opportunity for us it allows us a two year period to raise £700,000. Admittedly a large sum but given the time we now have one that should be achievable. It is new and uncharted territory for me I have never had the luxury of asking for money for two years down the line. It’s usually more likely to be 2 months!! It opens up a lot of possibilities including asking some of the bigger funders whose systems precluded us asking them for support in the short time we had previously had at our disposal. So... if you are reading this and think with the notice of 2 years you might be able to organise something, please feel free to steam ahead and contact us.

The Citroen Minibus Saga

At least one person reading this is going to be immensely pleased to know we have reached a final solution to the troublesome vehicle. It is a most definite and final one. Somewhat fitting for its chequered past.

I have to say the new engine and recent gearbox were working well when we reached the final solution. Our head youth worker  was responsible for the ending of this long running saga. The solution was agreed at about 40 MPH when the bus was driven into the back of a stationary van waiting to exit the same slip road the mini bus would have liked to have done. I suppose we could claim the engine was working too well but that might be stretching things too much! The  front of the mini bus was somewhat flat and the engine had once again stopped working!!

Despite the new engine and low mileage the insurance company were only able to offer us £3,500 in compensation. To be fair to them they were very helpful and that was a generous offer against the book price. However that sum doesn’t buy much mini bus! We have bought a 2001 Vauxhall Movano mini bus with only 81,000 miles on the clock which is mechanically perfect but belonged to a childrens charity that obviously had kids like ours  but not staff like ours. Literally almost every panel on the bus has a dent in it caused by being kicked, they even sat on the roof rack and dangled their legs over the side to dent it and the inside was very interesting, the guy who sold the bus to us had to paint out some of the graffiti he was too embarrassed to sell it like it was! This is a reminder to us of how children act if you don’t set them guidelines and parameters and see it through, however painful it is at first. Anyway the youngsters and the staff have worked hard on the bus and it now looks at least presentable. It’s at the cottage in Finland as I write and it drove out there with no problems at all, in fact it drives quite well. I am confident that as they say “it will do us a turn”. It does mean that you really have heard the last of the Citroen Saga, you may now all sleep well at night!!

Ship Wrecked!

Many of you will recall we had a mishap with the main boat at the cottage in Finland, it was blown onto the rocks and holed below the waterline and sank. I was at the cottage on my own in September and I managed to salvage it and winch it up onto the shore line. I checked on it during the winter when we were there with the youngsters and I thought we might be able to repair it. Two weeks ago we drove the mini bus out so I took with me a suitable quantity of glass fibre and materials to attempt a repair. Apparently in the late spring the cottage had experienced a tremendous storm of unusual power. We found our boat in the edge of the woodland so badly holed that she had broken her back. There was wreckage to be found on the other side of bay some 50 meters into the forest!! So completely beyond repair, we merely salvaged all the fixture and fittings that were left. However the time was not wasted, the storm had been so bad that all the ridge tiles had been ripped off of the cottage roof so I, Andrew the volunteer and Jack the work experience lad that were with me, spent the boat repair time repairing the cottage roof, which is probably better now than it was before. My job description seems to widen every week!!! However it was a good job we had the time and it was satisfying to be able to complete it before any damage had been inflicted on the cottage. The Cottage and its facilities are now ready for the summers activities, minus of course the boat. We are looking for a 16 foot Orkney longliner open boat to replace our wrecked one, should anyone have any contacts?


I’ve just returned from the Southsea sea front. Normally at this time of the year its like a traditional, if a little vulgar, sea side holiday resort but today most of the souvenir type shops are closed, there were perhaps 20 people to be seen, the hovercraft was running late, the rain was so heavy you couldn’t even see the fort half way out let alone the Isle of Wight on the other side of the Solent. It was more like a storm in winter than a summers day in July. What an extraordinary summer we are having. Camping and fishing have become historical activities at the moment with the youngsters. In times gone by we would have transferred all our operations to Finland where they are enjoying a better, if still cool, summer but as noted previously the cost of air tickets has knocked that strategy on the head. We have planned in August (with a day or two of the months either side) to have two weeks camping and fishing at our lakes, two weeks at the cottage and a weeks working party on the land. At the moment one needs a boat to negotiate the meadow on the way to the lake! We have been running these sorts of activities for 28 years now and we’ve never been rained off in August but it’s looking dangerously as though we will this year, I have never known anything like it. However if the weather does get better, even a little bit, we will be looking for volunteer staff and help during the month, if any of you feel like giving up a day or two or a week we could probably use you, if anyone has a donation to make towards the running costs of the charity, that might be enough to make the better Finnish weather available to the youngsters. I’m sure it was never like this “when I were a lad”!

Dever Springs Fishing day
I’m delighted to report that both the days fishing at The Duke of Wellingtons and the Day at Dever Springs near Andover were both great successes. Both days were wonderful hot sunny summers days. Perhaps they were the two days of summer this year! Neither day was conducive to catching fish but I think everyone was so relieved to see a bit of summer that no one minded, even the ones who didn’t catch. Dever was strongly supported and had the maximum number of fishermen possible and with 40 for lunch it was a busy but enjoyable day. News was shared, questions asked and promises made, it was a good day from the charity perspective and everyone who supported said they had had a great time on both days. We would encourage any of you who haven’t enjoyed the hospitality and company before to take advantage of the next invitation to fishing and lunch. It would be good to see you. We are back at Dever springs for our “End Of season Party” on Sunday 7th October if you want to put it in the diary.

Who Steals From A Childrens Charity?
Sadly I have to report that last Thursday evening after everyone had gone home we had unwanted visitors to our rural centre and they broke into the caravan we use for storage and tea making and stole a quantity of the childrens fishing tackle and camping equipment plus a generator. They even stole a bivvie/tent beside the lake that we had left erected because we were returning the following day to use it with some more children. Didn’t bother with the bag it went into just took it as it was. To my mind that’s on a par with old story of stealing from the poor box in church. We are slipping ever lower with each new generation. I think it’s another good reason for supporting our charity and helping us to instil something more into the next generation. It’s also a good reason for helping us complete the Project Transformation. A residential presence would make such a difference to the security of our rural centre in Hampshire.

So there we have it mixed fortunes but we live in interesting times and we would value your input as the journey continues... together

Saving the world... one child at a time.

Doug Hulme
Chief Executive
The Second Chance Children’s Charity