Seriously ill children, together with their parents and siblings, enjoyed three days making magical memories at Camp Simcha’s first residential family retreats since the pandemic.

More than 320 family members from London, Manchester and Gateshead. attended the retreats in Daventry and Oxford on two consecutive weekends. They enjoyed a packed programme of imaginative activities, including helicopter rides; a Royal banquet; outings to Drayton Manor theme park and Flip Out; a Disney-themed day, as well as pampering for parents, Segway tours and ‘Dinner-for-two’.

With carers, nurses and doctors on site, all the children’s medical needs were cared for. This enabled their parents to have some much-needed respite, as well as a chance to benefit from time spent with others who understand their daily struggles.

Talya Richman, mum to Levi, who has epilepsy, said they were on ‘Cloud 9’ following retreat.

“Although we hate to be in the position we are in, we are so grateful to have Camp Simcha. The lift retreat has given us will last for some time,” said Mrs Richman, from Edgware.

“The second we got there it was mind-blowing. It was incredible for each for us individually, but also as a family – as well as for my husband Dov and I as a couple.

“We were unsure about how Levi would cope but the worries disappeared within minutes of arriving. He had such an amazing connection with his volunteer and has not stopped taking about him since we arrived home!

“Even on the day trip without us, when he did have a seizure, the doctor looked after him. We just felt totally reassured that he was in safe hands.”

Mrs Richman said meeting other families on different journeys but with so much in common was also really comforting.

“We met people who were strangers to us one day yet have become close friends just three days later.”

Camp Simcha chief executive Neville Goldschneider said: “We were overjoyed to be able to welcome families to our residential retreats for the first time since 2019 – something most of them had never experienced before.

“One of the main objectives of family retreats, apart from bringing joy and respite, is to create a ‘community of support’, so that families feel that they are part of something – a wider family that really understands their life and can mutually give each other great strength.

“I wish I could have bottled the look on some of the parents’ faces at the lunch and closing ceremony on the last day – a look that said just how much difference this had made to them, how it will carry them forward to continue facing the challenges they have to face.”