Making Memories… Giving Hope

Courtyard Challenge


The Courtyard Challenge was the brainchild of Mike Collins, from Collins Wealth Management, who was looking an unusual way to celebrate his 60th birthday…

Our capital appeal, which raised in excess of £1.9million, enabled us to purchase and renovate Daleside Retreat in Derbyshire. The last phase of the renovations is currently ongoing, turning empty barns into spaces to play sports, get crafty and jump on trampolines!

However, the money raised was not enough for us to redevelop the plain and scruffy farmyard between the play barns and the accommodation building, and this was going to remain as it was.

This is where the Courtyard Challenge came in!

Mike Collins and a team of colleagues, family and friends set about making their dream of transforming the courtyard into a reality. They held a range of events to fundraise £16,000. This was generously matched by the St James’s Place Foundation to give them the £32,000 needed to buy materials.

On the weekend of 2 – 4 September, the courtyard was transformed into a hive of activity. Over three days, more than 120 volunteers gave their time to help transform an empty outside space into an incredible area where the children can play, relax and eat.

There’s a play area, leading to the barns, with games to play with new friends. A water feature takes centre stage. A sensory garden with outdoor sofas gives space to relax. A canopy provides shade over picnic tables, where the children, volunteers, and respite break leaders can enjoy food cooked on the brand new BBQ station. New flooring, planting and wall murals add atmosphere. Combined, this makes the retreat a wonderfully welcoming environment for the children coming to stay at CHICKS.

The volunteers worked hard all weekend and on the last day of the challenge, they were joined by a very special VIP guest…

Alan Titchmarsh and his wife, Alison, joined us for the morning to boost the team’s morale and see the project in action. They were incredibly impressed with what they saw, and it was fantastic to welcome them to the retreat.

Thank you to everyone who generously gave time, money or materials to make this incredible dream a reality!!


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