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Exceptionally warm and sunny weather enabled July’s Oakley Holiday at Bilton Grange to enjoy a number of special summer activities, including a treasure hunt with roaming animals in Dunchurch Village, a picnic in the shade of the beautiful trees in the school’s parkland and a very well organized and distinctly wet water sports.


The 92 members were housed in twelve mixed age dormitories, with separate rooms for older leaders. Eight new boys and girls attended for the first time and three members joined us from Germany, each making their own distinctive contribution to the success of the week.


Four new speakers were amongst those who presented evening talks each day, many followed by very thoughtful and well-attended discussions. Topics in the spotlight included fashion, positive uses of technology, what is meant by the word neighbour, personal journeys and seizing the moment.


On Wednesday we welcomed Kathy Miller, secretary of the Neem Tree Trust which supports the St. Luke’s Leprosy Hospital in India, who spoke movingly of the work done there and of the continuing stigma of the disease. Kathy then led a very popular session on how to fold and wear saris. St. Luke’s was one of five charities chosen by members of the Holiday to benefit from a donation given by Holiday members at a special collection. You will find details of this collection and a number of other charitable and ‘green’ initiatives on a separate webpage.  


The extensive grass sports pitches were brown but in excellent condition this summer for our principal team games of volleyball or podex. Conditions were fast and testing for our ‘pairs’ golf tournament, played with walking sticks and tennis balls, and hot for a very popular football and hockey tournament. Afternoons at Oakley offer a choice of activities – some leisurely, others very energetic – and this time these included line dancing, touch rugby, Mah Jongg, face painting, squash for beginners, croquet, photography and water polo in the heated pool.


The Ravenscroft Hall, with a large stage and raked seating, is ideal for our evening entertainment, ‘sing song’, and as always, members devised and produced an appealing range of entertainment. One highlight was a performance by a specially put-together orchestra and there were many comedy sketches from all the dormitories, as well as individual musical items and community singing.     


New Oakley members all received certificates from their dormitory leader on stage on the final evening, as well as a book from fellow dormitory members to mark their first Holiday. The week ended with the singing of the Oakley song, as we looked forward to the excitement of our Centenary year in 2019 and reflected on the continuing values of our Holidays during the past 100 years.

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