Bilton Grange School, set in 160 acres of parkland on the outskirts of Rugby, was again the attractive location for the 99th year of the Oakley Holidays. A busy and diverse programme of indoor and outdoor activities went ahead uninterrupted, despite some miserable weather for the first three days.
The 77 members were housed in ten comfortable dormitories, some further refurbished this year, with separate rooms for older leaders. Fourteen new boys and girls made a significant contribution on their first Oakley Holiday. Twenty 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 special 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 much discussion on plastic pollution.
The sports pitches, woodlands and gardens provided an extensive 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 energetically and enjoyably contested. In the afternoons the choice of thirty different activities included: line dancing, touch rugby, Mah Jongg, Ultimate, squash for beginners, croquet, photography, flower arranging, basketball in the sport hall and aqua-aerobics in the heated pool.The Oakley golf and tiddlywinks tournaments were very well contested in pairs, as always, whilst a wide game in the fields and trees, with teams of six searching both for beasts roaming the grounds and for clues, was challenging and energetic.
For the seventh time everyone took part in the Oakley Sport Relief Mile, happily run in glorious sunshine, preceded by a spectacular fancy dress parade and vigorous musical warm up. £640 was donated to four 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 the separate Easter charities Webpage.
In discussion groups, presentations and through our evening talks we thought about and considered a number of current personal and social topics. These included the power of words, 100 years of women’s “equality”, the value of diversity and today’s instant society. Several sessions were followed by very well attended and lively debates.
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, french horn and guitar, as well as choral, solo, ensemble and community singing and comedy 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 now almost a century of our Holidays.