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TicFEST North 2018

Posted Mon 10th Sep 2018 at 13:01
by Pippa McClounan


A quick de-brief on the final TicFEST event of the year from Tourettes Action's office manager and seasonal ticfester, Pippa McClounan


After a very long journey (5 and a half hours, sat in dreaded Friday traffic) I arrived at Kingswood Peak Venture activity centre in Sheffield, which was to be the home of TicFest North 2018 for the weekend.

Myself and my colleague Emma, along with volunteer psychology student, Ella welcomed 30 families, many of whom were new to the concept of TicFest. We had our TicMates Max, Charley and Jacob, who were a friendly face for the newcomers. Once settled in to their accommodation and following a welcome talk and safety information from centre staff, we sat down to our evening meal.

After a delicious meal, the children (and some adults!) enjoyed our ice-breaker game of ‘Name Bingo’ which encouraged everyone to get talking to each other.

Bright and early Saturday morning, everyone met for a hot cooked breakfast, fuelling for a full day of fun activities. We were joined by another volunteer, clinical psychologist Camilla Babbage who came along to speak to families and mingle. There was Bush Craft, Climbing Wall, Zip wire (my favourite) and Aeroball. Everyone had the chance to take part in each activity and many managed to conquer their fear of heights. The sun shone all day, providing perfect weather to enjoy the afternoon free time in the beautiful grounds. Although, the indoor rock-climbing room with tunnels proved to be a huge hit with the younger guests (and a couple of mums after a few glasses of vino!)

Credit must go to the catering staff who did a great job of serving our delicious meals all weekend, and after dinner on Saturday night, we held the much anticipated raffle. Thanks to everyone who bought a ticket – we raised a fantastic £90! This was followed by the disco, with glow sticks to add to the party atmosphere.

Those who signed up to Sunday morning activities, enjoyed a fabulous ‘Robot Workshop’, run by Femi and his mum, Grace. Everyone built their own robot and competed in a race to find out who’s was the quickest! Very competitive! Alongside this was a ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ which involved lots of fun creating objects from cardboard etc and hurling water bombs at the centre staff!

Departure after lunch saw much exchanging of details, with promises to stay in touch. It was really heart-warming to see so many new friendships blossoming, as many of the families had never met anyone with TS before. One of the activity leaders, Josh, was teary eyed when he told me that he’d overheard a young lad say to his mum ‘These kids are all normal like me’. How wonderful to think that these children feel relaxed enough not to worry about ticking, or offending anyone or for parents to not feel the need to constantly apologise. Everyone can just be themselves.

The activity leaders were simply incredible. Andy, Ben, Josh and Jake went out of their way to make everyone feel relaxed, and fedback to me that we were one of the best groups they have had! A special mention must also go to the night staff, especially Matt, who did a great job with the families.

So, as the final TicFest of 2018 draws to a close, we can reflect on many wonderful memories and look forward, with anticipation, to Tourettes Action TicFest 2019.

View pictures from our event here

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