Sadness as disabled children’s charity closes after 40 years

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby f

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby for 41 years Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A disabled children’s charity in Suffolk has had a final farewell party after being forced to close its doors on 41 years of history.

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby f

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby for 41 years Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Established in 1978, the Mid Suffolk Holiday Opportunity Play Scheme (HOPS) offered something unique for children with disabilities and additional educational needs.

Their specialist play equipment meant no child was ever excluded from sessions and staff were on hand to keep them safe while families had a break from their roles as carers.

The charity previously said that children using the service were generally unable to access main stream activities as there is not the support they need.

Sessions ran at weekends and during school holidays, but this weekend marked the last ever session.

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby f

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby for 41 years Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant


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The group had spent three years searching for a new home after being told their base in Thorndon, near Eye, was being redeveloped for housing.

But their search proved fruitless and the decision was made to close the service.

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To celebrate all the hard work of volunteers past and present, as well as the children they look after, the group threw a party full of fun and games on Saturday.

HOPS staff member Jackie Markell said: "This is a very sad day for our small charity having to close.

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby f

Linda Ellis and Jackie Markell, founding members of HOPS, who have worked with the children nearby for 41 years Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

"However, today it is great to see children, volunteers staff and their families, both present and past, enjoying themselves and helping celebrate all the achievements of the past 41 years."

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