The 100th year of the Oakley Holidays began with a very happy and successful Easter week attended by 85 members, including a record number of 16 boys and girls who were at Oakley for the first time.
Bilton Grange School, set in 160 acres of parklands on the outskirts of Rugby looked at its attractive spring best, as a busy and diverse programme of indoor and outdoor activities went ahead uninterrupted in sunny and increasingly warm weather. We were housed in ten comfortable dormitories - bed linen, pillows and duvets provided - with separate rooms for older leaders. Twenty three of those present were the sons or daughters of former or present Oakley attenders.
Top quality food, provided by the school’s catering team, was much liked, with a separate menu for vegans and vegetarians. A ‘green’ awareness theme ran through the week with locally sourced and fairtrade food, lights being turned off, recycled envelopes in use for photos and a special session taking the dead heads of thousands of daffodils.
The sports fields, woodlands and gardens provided a delightful backdrop for all our outdoor activities. Everyone played our principal team games of volleyball or podex at the same time, with handball and a football and hockey tournament also being sportingly and enjoyably contested.
In the afternoons the choice of thirty different activities included salsa dancing, touch rugby, squash for beginners, croquet, photography, poetry writing, basketball in the sport hall and water polo and aqua-aerobics in the heated pool.
The Oakley golf and tiddlywinks tournaments were very well contested in pairs, as always, whilst a murder mystery in and around the house, with teams of eight searching for clues and quizzing several bizarre suspects, was amusing and energetic.
A tough team challenge included an obstacle course in the trees, a standing jump, three minutes swinging on ropes and a race carrying the heaviest person – an event was enlivened by heavy rain showers!
Almost £700 was donated to three charities chosen by members of the Holiday by means of a special collection. These and a number of other initiatives are recorded with photos and more detail on a separate webpage of the week’s charity activities.
The Centenary was marked by pictures of each dormitory with the Centenary banner, specially designed Tee shirts, cutting the ribbon on a newly planted tree and everyone making the shape of O 100 for a spectacular photograph
In discussion groups, presentations and through our evening talks we thought about and considered a number of current personal and social topics. These included disposable fashion, the inspiration of Michelle Obama, the selfie culture and the importance of saying thank you. Several sessions were followed by very well attended and lively participation and debate.
Evenings were spent in the Ravenscroft Hall where members devised and performed an appealing range of entertainment. This included individual musical contributions on violin, flute, piano and guitar, some stand-up comedy, a magic show and an improvised orchestra, as well as choral, solo, ensemble and community singing and humorous self-penned sketches from all the dormitories.
On the final day the new Oakley members all received certificates and a book to mark their first Holiday and the week ended with the singing of the Oakley song, reflecting on the enduring values of 100 years of our Holidays.