Childhood memories: Pontins at Sand Bay with mum

Here, Paul Hallows from SWit’CH (Swinton Writers in t’Critchley House) remembers the yearly holiday camp visit, accompanied with lots of sand, sea and swimming. 

Every year since I was six years old, my mum organised a holiday for disabled people and their carers to Weston Super Mare once a year in October.

There were about fifty of us and we travelled by a special coach which had a lift on it and a hoist for the people who couldn’t transfer to their seat.

We always went to Pontins holiday camp in Sand Bay. We met up with up to four hundred of our friends. They were from similar groups from Walsall, Halesowen, Black Country, Birmingham, Rowley Regis and many more.

We stayed for a week. It was great. Cabaret and bingo every night and various activities during the day. All sorts going on.

My dad wasn’t into bingo, so I would get him a coffee from the cafe and he would get the chance for a smoke.

Sunday was always the ramble, Wednesday the fancy dress which was the highlight of the week. Nearly everyone took part. There was a choice to go to the shops around Weston town centre in the afternoon if you wanted to. Friday was red, white and blue night. There was also wrestling and table tennis on.

I was always picked as the ball boy when the table tennis was on. There were two professional players and every time they knocked the ball off the table I had to pick it up and give it back to them.

Every so often, they would use about ten balls at a time, which they would knock off. Of course, I had to pick them up. When I got back to the table I tried to put them back on. As I had all ten in my hand they would just bounce off everywhere – to lots of laughter from the audience. As you can tell this went on for some time.

There was a swimming pool on-site as well. So we used to take some of the crowd with us. Really the campsite was just for adults but, because it was a special week, they let children go as well.

One of the Bluecoats, Katie, had all the kids playing games and things. We had a swimming race which I won and I got a medal for it which I was chuffed about.

They had a games room where we could play snooker, bowls and much more. It was a great holiday. Everyone loved it.

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