More than 400 people joined us for two afternoons of BFG-themed Family Trails in the grounds of the Lodge, on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 August.
The trails were part of our new programme of educational work with primary school children and their families, which is inspired by our connections to Dahl's much-loved tale of The BFG, and supported by a gift from the Patron's Fund.
Each of the stations on the trail drew on themes from Dahl's books and related them to contemporary social issues, in a way that would appeal to younger children.
They included: friendship, bullying, self-belief, dreams for the future, and the Queen, who is our Patron.
On Wednesday we were joined by a group of 16-year-old students from local secondary schools who are taking part in National Citizens Service (NCS) with The Challenge. They helped us to create a BFG 'Dream Cave' in our Wilderness Marquee as part of their 'Social Action Project'.
They had also designed a series of educational activities for the children to take part in, including designing bottles of dreams for a better world to hang on colourful dream catchers, suspended from the marquee.
Jimsin Jacob (16) was one of the NCS participants. She said, ‘As part of our 'Social Action Project' we were tasked with contributing ideas for a BFG-themed Dream Cave as part of the trail that Cumberland Lodge is organising. The challenge was to find ways of tackling social issues in a way that would make sense to the younger children.
'It was hard to pitch it right because the children are probably just starting to think about some of the big issues like religion and identity and community. The BFG theme made it easier for us to make it interesting for the kids, and it’s all been going really well.’
The following day, the same group of young people held a ‘Campaign Day’ as part of the NCS activities, to help raise awareness of our charitable work during a visit to Upton Court Park in Slough.
On Thursday, BBC Radio Berkshire was broadcasting live from the Lodge throughout its Breakfast Show, from 7am till 10am, talking about the BFG Family Trails, our Roald Dahl connections, our 70th anniversary as an educational foundation, and the Heritage Open Days coming up in September.
Sophie spoke to our Principal, Ed Newell, our Education Officer, Dr Rachel Smillie, our Friends, Alumni and Outreach Officer, Emma Albery, and one of the children who took part in the trail on Wednesday.
BBC Radio Berkshire reporter, Sophie Van Brugen, speaking to our Education Officer, Rachel Smillie
'Educational and interesting'
The sun shone on both days and the gardens soon filled with children and their parents and guardians, enjoying the stations along the trail, working their way through our activity books, and exploring the grounds at their leisure.
Dr Rachel Smillie, our Education Officer, said: 'The NCS participants did a brilliant job of designing activities to engage primary school aged children and their families. We had a huge turn-out on both days, which surpassed our expectations, and it was great to see the gardens come to life with excited children and their families.’
Feedback from the families who attended was very positive. Joanne Moran from Etonwick, took part in the trail with her husband Dean and their children, Amelia (8) and Freddie (10). She said, ‘It’s been brilliant. I literally just came across it on Facebook the other day. It’s great to come and see the Lodge here, and its beautiful surroundings, and it’s nice for us all to get out and do something interesting and different.’
Lynsey McWhirter from Windsor, who came with her son Archie (8) and a group of friends, said, ‘It’s been very educational and interesting. We’ve all had a great time. It’s been fun and the children have had a lovely afternoon out.’