International Angelman Day @ Alton Towers

By Louise Prince, FAST UK Trustee.

February 15th 2023, marks the 10 year anniversary of International Angelman Day, It is also the tenth year that an Angelman group, created by an Angelman mum, Linda Holmes, took place at their usual venue Alton Towers.

As a FAST UK board member and fellow parent, I recognise the importance of these annual meets. Not just for the kids to have fun, but a break that parents can attend and feel included, not judged, comfortable, part of a large family, and to connect with families in similar situations from all over the country.

This was my first time attending this event and I was excited to meet new families and to also reconnect with families I’d already met.

To make sure this event was even bigger than before and to get more families to attend who otherwise couldn’t for various reasons, the trustees agreed that FAST UK was to sponsor the event. This meant an extra 7 families got rooms paid for, 45-50 families got magic money, to go towards food, drink etc. some families brought extra help with extended family or carers, and siblings were able to meet with other siblings. This was and is a great opportunity for everyone to be in a safe place and have one huge family holiday. Some families travelled over just for the day to re connect with families they have met.

It was so nice to walk around the hotels and see so many Angelman children enjoying themselves, smiling, having fun, giving those special kisses (we all know those) and everyone just ‘getting it’.

There were lots of new families that attended the event and I have to say, there wasn’t one bad word said about anything. Everyone had fun and its a credit to Linda for organising such an event that gets bigger and bigger each year. Linda does not stop in the weeks and months approaching the event and still didn’t when it started. Unfortunately, her daughter Lucy, became ill on the Saturday, meaning Linda and her husband Rick had to travel home while still juggling rooms around driving home on the M1. She left the event in the capable hands of their other daughter Becky, who did a fabulous job of hosting. Alongside Becky, other regular AS mums stepped up and helped out. Everyone pulled together, and even though Linda was devastated to leave, it was a great event and raised over £650 from the raffle to go toward FAST UK.

The event took place over 5 days, families could choose which day/s they came for and for how long. It was a relaxed setting and Alton Towers had provided a huge conference room for families to visit at any point in the day to relax, if their family could prize them away from being in the water park.

In the evening, families came together for a much needed drink and chat. The children had a wonderful time, they were able to wander and play with ease, parents knowing that their AS child would be safe and no one in that room would care if they got a random bear hug along with those open mouth kisses.

A raffle and ‘guess the teddies name’ were played on the Thursday and Saturday evening with monies raised for FAST UK. While Alton Towers recognised International Angelman Day by lighting up their hotels and pool blue.

All in all, it was a great success and I definitely will be going again.

I’m so glad that Becky and other AS parents were there to take over in my family emergency, I was so proud of you all. The Facebook live was fabulous to watch and Lucy is still watching it now!

Sharissa and myself personally don’t do well with being herded to meetings and conferences, we get too exhausted. But we do love the relaxed, un-regimental feel to Alton Towers. We can catch up with families and enjoy the company in a relaxed environment. It felt so good as we have been isolated for so long. Thank you to FAST UK for their donations.

Our first time at Alton Towers and first time meeting others in our situation. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly.

Thank you very much, you gave us opportunities to look forward to the future