I had the great pleasure of recently being invited to join children and teachers from Amherst Primary Summer School in Guernsey for a fun-filled day of surfing with Guernsey Surf School. Watching the happiness come in waves that sunny morning at Vazon is a memory that will stay with me for a long time!
Amherst set up the summer school last year for children aged between 5 and 11 who, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t go away or take part in activities during the long summer holidays.
The weeklong programme was devised by Headteacher, Tracey Moore, and its first year was a massive success. It gave children the chance to let off some steam, try new things and take part in field trips and activities such as surfing, archery, swimming and bowling.
The irrepressible Tracey Moore
So, when Peter Webber from Help a Guernsey Child approached me about donating some of the proceeds of my book Meet HammerHead and Captain StinkyPants to help fund the summer school for its second year, it felt like a match made in heaven. And it was!
When I presented the donation, the thanks came in spades. Or maybe buckets and spades… But, despite all the kind words, the looks on the children’s faces was thanks enough!
I was trying surfing for the first time. So were most the 47 children and a few grown-ups who were in the water with me! The squeals of delight as triumphs and splashy disasters were celebrated around us emphasised just how much this meant to everyone. Being able to go back to school in September with memories to compare with those around you. Not feeling left out. Those are important things when you’re growing up.
Amherst Summer School is very much a collective effort and is only made possible through the support of local businesses like Guernsey Surf School and an enthusiastic team of volunteers. Incredibly, all the teachers and learning support assistants had in fact taken time out of their own summer holidays to run the programme. Without these selfless individuals, the summer school would not be possible. And that would be a tragedy.
“Look at me! Look at me! I’m standing up!” - A moment of triumph!
When I began putting pen to paper, I had no idea about the number of enriching opportunities HammerHead and Captain StinkyPants would bring. While being a published author is of course something to feel smug about, I’m even more proud of the fact the book has touched the lives of so many people. What a humbling journey it has been!
I believe there are still a few copies on sale at Co-op stores if you would also like to play your part in these stories.
Finally, I ought to take a moment to apologise to the 9-year-old boy who I ‘wiped out’ on the surf. I’m so sorry… I thought I’d be like a young David Hasselhoff. I wasn’t.
Peter Webber (Help a Guernsey Child) building sandcastles with me and the crew