Embracing the Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival
31st May 2015
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The week started with a bang when I gathered my team and to my dismay realised that Embrace East Sussex was not performing too well in the Aviva Community Fund.  Embrace were up for a grant of £10,000 but needed to make it before the judges first before our project was considered, something the trustees had been working very hard on and had even put together a video for. 

Our likers wanted to vote but the Aviva site not allowing them to do so from their iphones .... Despite the obvious local love for our children, people were giving up on us!!  Team Embrace were obviously panic stricken!

The Embrace Team did their best to rally the troops and even tried sending emails instead of using Facebook to try to get our likers to vote; but the votes were definitely slowing to a stop.

In despair I contacted David Ruddle and explained what had been going on.  David was very sympathetic and pointed out that competition was fierce in Eastbourne but said he would do what he could to help, but he had to remain impartial to all the competing causes he was helping.

David suggested that I started with a blog on his site explaining who Embrace were and that we were competing in Aviva and also said he would retweet a few of our twitters ..... needless to say I was nervous.... I am still only just getting to grips with Twitter and blogging is something that more interesting people do who understand computers.... I didn't have a clue where to start.

However keen to help Embrace with Aviva I soldiered on and with David's support I managed to produce Embrace's first blog and also get us a few more votes now we just have to cross our fingers and see if our little charity can scrape a place before the panel.

So on with the next task…. Sorting out the Embrace entry to the carnival…..

After months of planning by lots of devoted parents, trustees and employees….Saturday the 30th June AKA “carnival day” started with bang at about 5.30am.  Facebook messages pinging on my phone relentlessly asking where and when people needed to arrive. 

Despite posting instructions about road closures and meeting times on the Facebook page busy and harassed Embrace parents were still nervous about the entry with their special kids and the calls and the messages kept coming in. 

Any special needs or disabled parent knows that such an event in the social calendar is a very stressful thing for our children but we were all keen to try our hardest so that our children should be a part of the Eastbourne Community on such a special day.

Now my own two were up (Harry 9 years old and Autistic and Ellie aged 2 years and a little monkey through and through) and I was unbathed... still in my pjs and because of the Aviva shambles was out of bread and milk completely.

I took 30 mins for myself and jumped in the bath before the kids started hollering at me that they needed feeding.  I dashed to Tesco Express in Seaside to pick up breakfast provisions and rushed back home.

My pair of love bugs were unceremoniously dumped in a chair each and Toast and Shreddies were churned out en mass in a conveyor belt style.  While I madly dashed to Embrace House (alias mums house) to pick up the transfers that needed to be ironed onto the Embrace T Shirts and put together 11 information packs for the Embrace Stewards back at Embrace HQ.

When I got back Daddy was up and waiting with the ironing board and a small stack of T shirts with a look on his face that said “Give me those transfers… you will only mess it up…” we both knew he was right and I was only glad to relinquish such a duty on a busy morning and frankly very grateful for his help.

An hour later (with Shreddies mostly removed from Ellie’s hair) we were all fully breakfasted, steward paperwork was prepared and my little troop was off to Embrace House to give nanny and gramps the special kind of help that only my kids can provide. 

We arrived to find a stressed out gramps who was busy running a taxi service, preparing for a huge family dinner after the carnival and stressing about the hovering being done.  Mum was out decorating the float with an ever faithful member of our Embrace Team Anna. 

They had been working on this since Christmas and there was a lot at stake if the wind got up or it started to rain.  There was no way that the bunting that one of our dutiful mums had painstakingly made would not end up floating around the foot of the Downs at this rate.   It was blustery and the rain clouds were looming menacingly overhead.  I quickly took a couple of pics of Mum, Anna and her lovely friend adding the finishing touches to the float.

I have to say that the Domsalla float had been magically transformed into a beautiful handmade Punch and Judy puppet theatre featuring down the sides of the float individually handmade tissue paper flowers representing the carpet gardens made by a band of Embrace volunteers.

Craft will never be my strong point and it is still beyond me how mum and Anna (and her lovely friend who was currently perched on the roof of the van with a ball of string) had managed this …..

Finally … float dressed and the first contingent of the Embrace team collected at Embrace House we ventured off to the Western Lawns en mass in the Domsalla float followed by a car packed with Embrace kids.   Some of whom were becoming fairly vocal about how anxious they were feeling.

When we arrived there was plenty of excitement as the vans were admitted to the line up ready to be judged and more children and parents started to arrive.  Excitement chattered from the Embrace Kids as it became apparent to them that they were about to become part of something very special.

All the floats looked amazing and obviously every other charity and local organisation had been working as hard as Embrace had to make this day something to remember.

At 4pm the Mayor handed Embrace a highly commended rosette and we were virtually bowled over and understandably very excited to have received this on our first year entering the carnival!!

The procession began shortly after this and all the children had an amazing time.  I even managed the walk to Fusciardis before my heavily pregnant body gave up and I had to sit in the cab to ride for a while.

All in all a truly amazing day.  Thank you to all of you hard workers at Team Embrace and to the carnival organisers.  It was something very special to be a part of and our children had a lovely time and really felt included.

The carnival truly showed the little town of Eastbourne at its best and deserves a blog in the Best of Eastbourne… I am sure David will agree!

Voting for Aviva closed at midnight last night (the 30th) and we will find out on the 4 June whether or not we managed to scrape through to the panel…. Keep your fingers crossed for us… 

About the Author

Embrace East Sussex

Member since: 28th May 2015

Embrace East Sussex is a group for Special Needs and disabled children from the age of 0 25 years. We offer family support, Saturday Clubs, a legal and benefits services, Early Years advice, family liaison...

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