Great Escape: reunited!

2018 Escapee Caroline shares her experience of our Great Escape Reunion, a one-off event celebrating five years of weekend retreats for young people with cancer.


I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 2018 Shine Great Escape (read my fellow Escapee Rosie’s blog about it here), and I was invited to the Great Escape Reunion almost as soon as I had accepted my place on the Escape itself!

It turns out that 2018 was a year worthy of celebration: the Great Escape that I attended was the fifth weekend away for young adults with cancer that Ceinwen Giles and Emma Willis had organised since Shine began. In March, Shine organised a reunion event in London, inviting all of those who had attended a Great Escape to come along and celebrate the anniversary with them.

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Some of the 2018 Great Escape attendees reunited!

The afternoon began with tea, cake, and conversation, which gave us time to chat with our fellow Escapees and meet those who had attended in previous years. While it was a great opportunity for many to catch up, for the 2018 attendees it was also a chance to get to know each other better. Although we all feel a strong bond with our ‘tribe’ as a result of the Escape, there are still so many things that we want to learn!

Once we’d warmed up and helped ourselves to a piece of flapjack or four, the Reunion continued in true Escape style – with Sharpies, crafts, and collages. Although some Escapees remain defiantly unartistic, everyone took part in creating collages to show how the experience had affected their lives. It was amazing to see how much one weekend away could change our perceptions about cancer and our attitudes towards living with the disease.

After the activities came a potted history of the Shine and the Escape from Ceinwen and Emma, including stories about how they’d manage to convince friends and friends of friends to sign up to voluntarily spend a weekend at a hotel in Bournemouth with a group of young people with cancer – hardly the most glamorous of mini-break ideas! We are all overwhelming grateful that they pulled it off, as the next portion of the afternoon showed. Representatives from each Great Escape gave short presentations about their experiences and gave us an insight into what everyone had been doing since their Escape. This part of the afternoon was emotional for many reasons. It was fantastic to see photos of weddings, exciting trips abroad, and new babies, which gave us optimism for our futures beyond cancer. However, the moving tributes to those who have sadly passed away since attending their Escape reminded us all about what it is that brings us together. After the presentations, we raised a glass not only to Ceinwen, Emma, and the volunteers, but also to the wonderful Escapees who are no longer with us.

And as for the 2018 Escapees? Although we weren’t convinced that we would have much to report after only a few weeks apart, we had managed to achieve a surprising amount: a few new jobs, several dates, a couple of people returning to work, and some meet-ups already in the calendar for later in the year. And then, of course, the few thousand (!) WhatsApp messages we had exchanged with each other since leaving Bournemouth. It seems that a Shine Great Escape isn’t a Shine Great Escape without a very active WhatsApp or Facebook group!

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Fond memories of the Escape…

The reunion came to a close with a group discussion about the future of Shine, and how we could ensure that more young people are able to benefit from everything the charity has to offer, then a delicious buffet.

 

I’ll leave you with a few comments about the day from my fellow 2018 Escapees. Thank you again for everything Shine, and all the volunteers who have contributed to the Great Escape!

‘It was great to chat to previous attendees and see that they are still benefiting from the Escape and have gone on to make good progress. Also, it was nice to see that they are still good friends with each other years later. The Escape has a long-lasting impact and doesn’t just fizzle out after leaving the bubble of The Grove.’

‘I get really tearful thinking about our Escape and the Reunion. I feel like I belong with you guys, where I don’t belong anywhere else.’

‘[Our group photo from the Reunion is] my work screensaver!! I look really happy, which makes me smile, and when I have a tough day it reminds me that we’re in this together.’

What is a ‘Great Escape’? To learn more about the Shine Great Escape and how you could apply to take part, check out our website here

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Shine Camp 2014!

 

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In early August we held our 5th Shine Camp – it’s taken us this long to recover and write about it!

Shine Camp is a weekend of camping with friends and families in the beautiful Dorset countryside. It gives young adults living with cancer a chance to relax and connect with other people, friends and family members that have similar experiences – and it’s great fun too!

This year we had nearly 100 people at camp and still had plenty of space in our fantastic private field at Norden Farm campsite near Corfe Castle. (Check them out if you’re looking for a great camping location!)

shine camp marqueeOur fantastic marquee, courtesy of Marqco Marquees went up on a slightly grey Friday morning and proved a great shelter from the teeny tiny bit of rain we had on the Friday evening and Saturday morning.  It also looked great at night with the colour changing light show and was the perfect place for everyone to congregate over food and drinks and to hang out for a chat.

The Friday night of Shine camp is always a ‘bring and share’ supper and once everyone has decided where to pitch and put their tents up (with varying degrees of success!) we all relaxed around the marquee.  We tucked into a feast of homemade bread and cakes, salads, quiche and all round proper picnic food! Yummy!

Saturday morning we had some pretty poor weather but the sun eventually came out and we had beautiful weather for the rest of the weekend .  Clever campers packed Wellies and sun-cream!

We went from this....

We went from this….

to this - in one hour!!

to this – in one hour!!

We never really have a schedule for Shine camp – those who come can choose to hang around at the campsite or go off out for the day with friends or family.  The only part we ask people to stick around for is the group meal on Saturday night.  With a fabulous hog roast and veggie BBQ, no one took any persuading!!

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We also share breakfast in the mornings if you’re up and about when the bacon and eggs are getting cooked!  This year we had a special Sunday breakfast of Canadian pancakes courtesy of our resident Canadian Ceinwen! (Thanks Cein!)

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Jeanette makes the bacon butties!

This year we also had our first ever best dressed tent competition and they all looked great!  The deserving winners were the Hart family whose home-made ‘under the sea’ theme stole the show in our Facebook vote!

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The WINNERS!

A few more of the fabulous tents…..

IMG_0683untitled-2P1090535This year’s Camp was made possible by all of your incredible fundraising over the past year, as well as an incredibly generous anonymous donor (thank you!!!).  We hope you’re able to join us next year for an even bigger and better event!!

 

 

Shine Dorset – new members lunch Oct 2012

We had a lovely lunch today at Frankie & Bennys at Castlepoint in Bournemouth – it was great to catch up with some existing Shine members and also meet some new ones!

It was also a great opportunity to talk about our plans for the rest of the year including starting to plan our Christmas party which will be on 15th December (book the date in your diaries now!!)

The feedback on our latest idea to host a weekly, fun exercise class has also been really positive so we are moving on with our plans to do that as soon as we can!   We are hoping to provide a weekly fun, mixed ability dance based exercise class which is for Shine members and their families (saves getting a babysitter!) Having a private class will mean that people will have the chance to meet up and chat to others as well as having the opportunity to exercise in a relaxed environment.

We all know that exercise is good for you, particularly after cancer treatment, but it can be difficult for people who have faced treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and or radiotherapy to have the confidence or ability to join a standard class at their local gym.  By creating a class just for Shine members, we are removing a lot of the body confidence issues faced by many after cancer.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas for venues or teachers, please get in touch with Emma by emailing her at emma@shinecancersupport.co.uk

Thanks x