For the first time since Covid intervened, after a three year gap Marlborough & District Rotary organised and ran a ‘Kids Out’ 2022 trip to Longleat for thirty seven children from Pewsey Vale, Pewsey Primary and Marlborough St Mary’s Primary schools, with eleven teachers, assistants and carers.
On Wednesday 8 June Marlborough & District Rotarians Paul Trickey and Rob Mitchenall boarded the coach along with the children, teachers, assistants and carers and set off for a day out at Longleat for what always was the annual Kids Out event.
Kids Out originated as far back as 1916 in Liverpool but it wasn’t until much more recently that the idea really took hold and expanded throughout the country. So each year since 2009 Rotary Clubs in Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Bath have taken about 1,000 children, selected by their teachers for being deserving of support, for a day out at Longleat Safari Park and Amusement Area. Since then Marlborough & District Rotary Club have participated in this event with local schools every year, except for the 2020 and 2021 when Covid prevented it being held.
This year everything went according to plan. The coach arrived safely and joined the other 950 children from across the three counties. After a necessary “wee break” the coach and its excited occupants proceeded to the Safari Park where the sight of many animals enthralled the children, and many of the adults, passing close by to the lions (many), tigers (hiding), elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, camels, ostriches and many different species of deer and antelope. The coach did not venture into the Monkey enclosure, Pewsey Vale Coaches (wisely) fearing for the integrity of their coach after the attentions of the marauding gangs of monkeys. Rumour has it that somewhere, on one of the roads out of Longleat, there is a stall run by monkeys where they sell back all the bits taken off the cars and coaches. But that’s probably just a legend.
Then it was time for the picnic lunch provided by Rotary and enhanced by the presence of several entertainers. Afterwards the children and their accompanying adults dispersed to sample the delights of as many of the attractions at Longleat as they had time to see. After their picnic and a chat with several other Rotarians Paul and Rob decided they should see what Longleat had to offer. So, they departed for a voyage on the boat to see the hippos, sealions and gorillas and a ride on the little train before visiting the birds and other animals, including a couple of Cuban crocodiles. The time passed quickly and the leaving time of 4pm came around quickly.
Surprisingly, everybody got back on time and coach driver Paul started the journey home. Rob and Paul compared notes with the teachers and found that they hadn’t done half as much as the children had managed and in particular had missed receiving a free ice cream and being entertained by a clown. Judging by the noise all the children seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they were chattering away until arriving back at their respective schools, where their Mums and Dads were there to meet them.
Rob and Paul returned home, pleased that their organisation had worked well, while the organisers of the event, the three Frome Rotary Clubs, went home where, after a brief rest, they will start organising Kids Out 2023.
Thanks to Gerry Hooper for (most of) the story of the day……