LIKE many Bradford children in the 1960s, Terry Pearson didn’t have family holidays.

“I grew up on Holme Wood. We were a poor family and couldn’t afford to go anywhere,” he says. “I went to Hest Bank three times with my sister and brother - it was our holiday.”

The siblings joined busloads of youngsters from the district at Hest Bank in Morecambe, a holiday home owned by Bradford Cinderella Club. This year is the 130th anniversary of the charity, initially established to provide “clogs and coats” for children in poverty. It ran Hest Bank from 1908 to 1979.

Terry recalls gathering outside the Cinderella Club office in Little Germany to board the bus to Hest Bank. “A lot of those kids had never been outside of Bradford - going to the seaside was a big deal,” he says.

Today Terry is chairman of the Cinderella Club, which raises funds for underprivileged children, providing things other youngsters take for granted, such as school trips, uniforms and equipment. The Little Germany property where the Hest Bank kids used to congregate is now the charity’s Crash Pad, continuing the Hest Bank legacy by providing a safe haven for youngsters and a break from disadvantaged or chaotic home lives.

The building has been beautifully renovated, overseen by Terry, and is available for one or two young people of school age to stay in for two nights, with youth workers. It will be available to organisations working with children and teenagers, such as youth groups, social services and schools, to use for free, on approval by the Cinderella Club.

The idea, says Terry, is to provide a similar experience to Hest Bank: “People of my age who went to Hest Bank have great memories of it. We were out in the fresh air, by the sea. Those memories stay with us 50, 60, 70 years later. That’s why I’m so passionate about this project; I want other children to have that kind of experience too.”

The Victorian property, originally a private house, has been owned by Bradford Cinderella Club since the 1960s. It was rented out until the charity took it back three years ago, as an office and storage base.

The £350,000 18-month renovation, funded by charity investments, donations and fundraising, has transformed the partly derelict property into a fully furnished overnight base, where youngsters can enjoy home comforts. The four-storey building has a new roof and a lift and the decor and furnishings are bright and contemporary, incorporating the Cinderella Club’s yellow colour theme.

The fitted kitchen, stocked with food for each visit, includes a breakfast bar and opens out to a loft apartment-style dining and lounge area, with light pouring in from large windows. Two bedrooms each have a TV and a desk, and there’s a spacious bathroom, as well as disabled toilet and washroom.

A beautifully restored staircase leads to two bedrooms for youth workers on the top floor. Beneath the staircase is a ‘quiet place’ where youngsters can relax in a leather armchair donated by supporters Jaz and Tal Matharoo.

A basement has been converted into a games room with table tennis and pool tables, which have been donated. Students at Shipley College are raising funds for books and games.

Terry hopes staying at the Crash Pad will have a lasting impact on young people. “It’s a break from home, in a pleasant, comfortable environment,” he says. “Some children have chaotic home lives for various reasons. This is a safe place to relax, watch TV, play games, eat around the table, and just talk. It will stay with them. It’s also aspirational; showing that they too can have a nice place to live.

“A lot of care has gone into this renovation, down to the last detail, to create a ‘Wow factor’. I don’t know of any other facility like it. We’re grateful to B&M Community fund for a donation of £20,000, enabling us to furnish the Crash Pad to such a fantastic level.”

The Crash Pad was opened last month by Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Doreen Lee and Paul Thompson, a Cinderella Club trustee and its secretary for over 40 years. In recognition of his long service, the ground floor office used by the charity was unveiled as the Thompson Suite.

“ A great deal of thought has gone into the layout of the building,” says Terry. “The open-plan main space is designed to ensure maximum contact and support time for youngsters, whether just chilling and watching a movie, dining or helping in the kitchen. It’s an adaptable space that can be used with any age group. The dining area has fantastic light fittings provided by Meta Electric, the electrical contractor, who also negotiated a donation from YESS Electrical of the LED ceiling lighting.”

A plaque on each bedroom bears a “Sleep well, sweet dreams” message for the youngsters staying there from two stalwarts of Bradford Cinderella Club, Florence and Ernest Saville, the parents of current president, James Saville.

“Ernest was the chairman, he and Florence gave 50 years of commitment,” says Terry. “Without them, and the late Dennis Pollard, who saved the charity from going under in 1978, we wouldn’t be here.”

The renovation has been a labour of love for Terry. “We no longer send a coach-load of kids to the seaside - instead we offer a night or two of clean, comfortable living at the Crash Pad. It’s been a long time in the making, to ensure every aspect of the accommodation is suited to the needs of those using it,” he says. “We hope it will replicate the Hest Bank experience that tens of thousands of children had all those years ago.”

Bradford Cinderella Club was founded in 1890, in response to concerns about the city’s poor children. It provided free meals and clothing and within three months had assisted over 5,000 children. By the late 1890s it was serving 40,000 meals a year, leading to a national legacy - free school dinners. Over the years it funded trips to the cinema, theatre, countryside and coast. Initially part of a national movement, it is the country’s last remaining Cinderella Club.

“The original committee would never have thought we’d still be here 130 years on,” says Terry. “Child poverty hasn’t gone away. Some children don’t even have a change of clothes.

“We have the same ethos we’ve always had. It’s not grand gestures, like sending kids to Disneyland, it’s about providing things other children take for granted, from an Easter Egg to a computer.”

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