“WE came here to get the coach. We each had a brown carrier bag with a string handle and a pair of pumps. The parents waved us off - there was always at least one mother in tears.”

For Terry Pearson, the memory of arriving at Chapel Street to get the Cinderella Club bus is crystal clear. In the 1960s he was one of thousands of Bradford children sent to Hest Bank, a holiday home near Morecambe, for a seaside break. Hest Bank was for youngsters from families who couldn’t afford holidays, or with a health condition that would benefit from open spaces and fresh air.

The sea-front holiday home was purchased by Bradford Cinderella Club in the early 1900s. Operating from April to October, it accommodated up to 40 children at a time. Terry, who grew up at Holme Wood, went to Hest Bank three times and has fond memories. “We played in the fields and they took us to the beach. It was the first time I’d ever seen the sea,” he says.”We were always occupied - I remember a stack of boxing gloves, us lads started boxing. Some kids were homesick and there were one or two crying at night but most of us enjoyed it.

“I just remember everyone laughing, there was laughter all the time. Even the journey there on the bus was exciting.”

Now Terry is a Trustee of Bradford Cinderella Club, established in 1890 to help children living in poverty. More than 130 years on, the charity is still doing just that. It no longer has Hest Bank but today it owns a property in Bradford city centre, the Crash Pad, where young people can stay for a couple of nights, to have a break and a bedroom to themselves. The charity also provides treats for underprivileged children and funds things like school uniforms, trips and equipment.

At the Crash Pad, also the charity’s HQ, Terry and Development Officer Mike Conway show me piles of shoeboxes, filled with Christmas gifts to be distributed to youngsters in the district. “All the items are sorted into age groups and packed by our volunteers. For a child who gets very little at Christmas, a treat box just for them makes a difference,” says Terry. “We hear some heartbreaking stories of child poverty in Bradford. We were recently asked to help kids with no shoes. There’s as big a need today as there ever was.”

Initially providing clothes for poor children, Bradford Cinderella Club was soon serving hot meals, and later worked with Bradford Corporation on the Provision of Meals Act in 1905, leading to the city’s free school meals legacy. By the First World War the charity was providing treats and day trips for children, as well as clothing, footwear and powdered milk for babies. In the 1920s its committee helped the local authority with social welfare provision. Hest Bank was up and running by then, and during the Second World War it housed evacuees. Meanwhile the Cinderella Club was helping families whose breadwinners were at war.

In the post-war years the charity was organising treats for children, such as trips to the cinema, theatre and countryside. But the fortnights at Hest Bank remained a highlight for many Bradford youngsters. Record books and visitors books in the charity’s archive include handwritten lists of children who stayed at Hest Bank. Alongside names and addresses are details of their weight on arrival and departure, and spending money. Terry’s name appears in the 1966 records, when he was eight. Also in the archive are postcards of Hest Bank and an 1890 annual report. A series of scrapbooks kept by longterm Cinderella Club volunteer Florence Saville feature delightful photos of children playing on the beach and enjoying trips to the circus and cinema.

“This archive is a fantastic resource for us,” says Mike. “There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of people who remember the Cinderella Club and going to Hest Bank. We’d love to hear their memories, and they are welcome to come and look at the archive.”

Mike remembers watching children set off on the bus to Hest Bank. “It looked like great fun, those of us who weren’t going were a bit jealous. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t going too - I think it’s because we had an indoor bathroom,” he smiles. “My wife and her brothers went there. I often come across people who went to Hest Bank and they still talk about it.”

Adds Terry: “It was a moment in people’s lives, and it meant a lot. It was the only holiday some kids had.

“We went to the Odeon and Alhambra at Christmas - you’d see 250 kids pouring out of the cinema and theatre - and we had a selection box and a present.”

In the 1970s the Cinderella Club started running camping holidays in the Dales in addition to Hest Bank. The ‘adventure camps’ were run by volunteers, mainly students at Bradford and Ilkley College, and the first few were on a working farm near Pately Bridge.

In 1977 a bad storm hit the Hest Bank holiday home, causing nearly £50,000 worth of damage. With not enough funds for adequate repairs, the charity had to close the home after 70 years of providing holiday accommodation for around 50,000 Bradford children.

* To find out more about Bradford Cinderella Club and its archive email Mike Conway at mike@cinderellaclub.org

* Bradford Cinderella Club has been nominated for a share of the T&A’s £25,000 charity cash giveway. A voting token appears in today’s T&A.