Bumblebee Children’s Charity seeks past pupils for anniversary celebration

A Suffolk-based children’s charity is on a mission to track down youngsters who attended its pre-school sessions to celebrate a landmark anniversary in May 2016.

The Bumblebee Children’s Charity – dedicated to supporting young children who have difficulties with movement – is marking the first anniversary of its re-opening after its shock closure at the start of last year.

Now the charity, the only one of its kind in the East of England, is looking to invite past and present participants and their families to come along and join in a day of fun and celebration at Burstall Village Hall, Burstall near Ipswich on Saturday 7th May 2016.

Since it was founded in 2000, families have travelled from across Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to attend sessions at what was known as the Suffolk School for Parents. After the original funders withdrew, it became a charity in its own right, then merged with the Dame Vera Lynn Trust in 2010. Five years later, during a difficult financial period, the centre closed.

Only through sheer grit and determination of staff and parents, a massive fundraising effort, and the generosity of a small number of benefactors, was the pre-school able to reopen in May 2015 as the Bumblebee Children’s Charity.

Staff were once again able to provide the invaluable support for youngsters from across the region who have difficulties doing the things than most of us take for granted – like standing, walking, reaching and holding things. One year on and the centre is keen to celebrate its survival against the odds.

Bumblebee Principal Alison Stonham said: “When the school closed at the start of 2015, all the data relating to the children and their families was locked away and we can’t access it. Now we want to spread the word and invite everyone back to help us celebrate, raise our profile and help us to generate a more sustainable income that will secure our future so we won’t have to go through any more threats of closure.”

Andrea Pittock, Grants Manager for Suffolk Community Foundation said: “The Bumblebee Children’s Charity is an excellent example of the grass root action within Suffolk which supports families and children in need. As a major independent funder in Suffolk for the voluntary sector we really support this type of initiative.”

Bumblebee Trustee John Aiton said: “The service that Bumblebee provides through its expert and caring staff is so important because it’s just not available anywhere else. The holistic approach we adopt seeks to benefit the whole family in a positive way which concentrates on trying to find out what might be possible. If you like, we are always looking for the ability hiding behind the mask called disability’.

Chairman of Babergh District Council – and long-time supporter – Cllr Nick Ridley said: ‘As both a near neighbour to where I live and as one of my charities as Chairman of Babergh District Council, I am delighted to congratulate all those who have worked so hard to ensure that the marvellous work at Bumblebee’s Children’s Charity has been able to support all the children and parents needing this vital help. Happy First Birthday!’

One of first students to attend the school, now doing her GCSEs, said: “I got to learn and experience things the same as other children in a safe and supportive environment. My mum and dad were able to learn these skills too and then build on them at home. I remember making friends and enjoying the Christmas parties! I now have the opportunity to return to the charity as a volunteer for work experience related to my health and social care GCSE. It is a privilege to be accepted now as I was when I was little and see the many benefits for the current pupils. Thank you to everyone.”

The parent of one of the school’s current pupils said: “Not only is Bumblebees important for the children, it’s also a lifeline for us parents. We receive much needed advice and support when there is nowhere else to go.”

If a member of your family attended the school between please email Lindsay Warne or visit

Teaching at Bumblebee Children’s Charity is based upon the principles of Conductive Education in addition to the Foundation Stage Early Years Curriculum. Parent and child are involved together in the learning process and all classroom activities are related closely to daily living skills that can be used at home. The name Bumblebee Children’s Charity was chosen because – despite its shape and size – the bumblebee has evolved to become adept at flying, just like many of the children whose physical development has flourished thanks to the help of the centre’s specialist team.

Contact: Alison Stonham, tel 01473 652822, email [email protected]