15 years on a camper recalls how Barretstown changed his life

17 years ago when was 13 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, 13 years ago the Malcolm Sargent Trust (now Clic Sargent) sent me on a trip to Co Kildare that has stuck with me ever since! This morning I was telling my little brother who is 12 about what happened to me and explained the whole process to him as he was asking about it and of course I included my trip to Barretstown.

As I was telling him I started to fill up, now you have to understand that I made a full recovery and now I am a 18 stone doorman and head of security at a magistrates court, for my eyes to fill up and have tears is not an easy task! All the memories came flooding back, from how great every one at the camp was to how many great people from different countries I met and how much the experience lifted my spirits!

I have just been into the loft and I have dug out a box, in that box is all the addresses of friends I met there, sadly lost touch with them all, there is letters from when we kept in touch, the camp newsletter is there, I don’t even have to read it to remember the songs (I hope you are still singing tom the toad and I said come on down to the Barretstown.)

I still remember some of the staff that stuck out to me, Edmund, Lisa, Scott and Fergus, they were and I am sure still are great people!

At the time of me been diagnosed and going through treatment my mam was a struggling single parent, we did not have the opportunities to experience things that most people would enjoy as hobbies, you gave me that, your camp let me create memories that have stayed strong for 13 years! That’s nearly half of the years i have been on this planet and they will be here until the day I die, one of my favourites was the cabaret at the end ha ha we did the titanic act and i was Celine Dion in a lovely pink silk dress ha ha, the pictures are still at my mams (I hope).

The year after i went the Malcolm Sergent team then sent my sister to visit you as a treat for her (they were great people as well) I told her all about it and said it would be the time of her life, I waited at the airport for her to come home and she was beaming when she got back and told me I was right, I can remember everything. Jules who looked after the horses who taught me to ride! I still have my certificate! been gutted about having to use barb-less hooks when fishing because I wanted to cook one in our cabin for tea! even at dinner time when we convinced Florian that an old bloke there was Paul Newman and he went to get his autograph hahaha that was brilliant!

I just want to say a massive thank you, I really cant express how grateful I am for the experience, even writing this I am starting to fill up again. I would give anything to be 16 again and be waiting at the airport to visit you again, and I thought I would send this to show all the “Cara’s” and staff and everyone associated with you how much of a difference you have made to my life and I am sure hundreds of others, one day I hope I can repay you in any way I can.

From the anxious 16 year old standing at Newcastle Airport not knowing what to expect to a 30 year old recalling his memories you have done yourselves proud!