As part of Learning Disability Awareness week 2017, we have collected good news stories from our members. Here, Wilf Ward Family Trust share the wilf ward story of Linda whose birthday dream of riding in a VW campervan came true! 

Prior to Linda moving into one of our services in Beverley, her father came and decorated her bedroom with campervan wallpaper. Linda has always liked VW campervans as well as VW Campervan pictures, ornaments and lampshades. On moving into her new home Linda was thrilled with the way her bedroom lookedIn 2014 prior to her birthday Linda had a key-worker meeting and she expressed a wish to go for a ride in a campervan and sit and have a picnic on Beverley Westwood in one.

Linda’s key working group set about trying to find a company which rented them out with a driver included. They successfully managed to find a company, the price however was quite high at £200-£300. Her key-worker discussed the price with the manager and then with Linda and explained that it was very expensive for what she would actually get for her money, Linda agreed it was expensive but it was clear that she was disappointed.

L Photo 2In May 2015 Linda received some bad news regarding her father who was diagnosed as being terminally ill. Linda’s key-worker and manager supported Linda and her family when Linda was told the very sad news. It was at this time that Linda once again mentioned about going for a ride in a VW campervan, she said it would be a dream come true.

Support workers and her key-worker Marie dedicated support to Linda during her father’s illness, and a good key-worker never forgets. Marie approached the manager of the service and suggested that for Linda’s birthday (in August) we should make it really special and try once again to try to find a VW campervan for her.

This was a task that was far from easy; virtually the whole of the staff team were out looking for campervans on their days off, stopping people who were driving campervans in the street and support workers posted adverts on social media, asking far and wide. There was a determination within the staff team to make Linda’s birthday a very special one.

Marie liaised with Linda’s mother and father and discussed prices to hire a van. There was no questioning about it; Father said that they would pay for it, whatever it cost!

A company was found but again the price was going to be around £200. The gentleman who owned the company said that if we could not find a van cheaper he would allow Linda to go to his company and have a quick ride. Staff thought that this was better than nothing but with a month still to go before Linda’s birthday they kept searching.

In the meantime one of Linda’s key-workers, Vanessa offered to make Linda’s birthday cake in her own time; she suggested that it be a VW campervan of course. There was much deliberation about how to get the cake looking like a campervan. Vanessa researched this and found a company who could print any design onto rice paper which can be used to decorate cakes. So the prints were ordered and Vanessa set about making the cake.

Ben the deputy manager came into work one morning and informed the staff that he had been given a telephone number of a company with a VW campervan. A family member of Ben’s had used them to go to a school prom.

Linda’s father became very ill and Marie, the manager and other support workers continued to provide effective and caring support to Linda and preparing her for her father’s passing which happened at the end of July. With dedicated support Linda coped well and continues to do so.

When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday Linda said she would like to take all of her housemates out for tea at a local pub she likes. This was booked for her and her mum intended to come along as well.

Marie telephoned the company and after some negotiation they gave a price of just £70. All the staff were informed and told to stop the search. All were very excited that we had been able to achieve this for Linda and they were even more excited as they knew Linda knew nothing about it what so ever. Linda’s mum was informed and she was very happy and paid for the van and said that it would have been what Linda’s father would have wanted for her. The surprise was set in motion.

Linda’s birthday arrived, early August. Many support workers and the manager came in on the evening to help Linda celebrate her birthday.

Linda was excited to be going out to the pub with her house mates and was pleased her mum was going to be there. On exiting her house Linda headed to the services car to get in. Marie stopped her and said ‘we are not going in the services car this evening’ and pointed her in the direction of the VW campervan that was parked just up the street. Linda stopped looked at the van with open mouth and said ‘For me?’ Marie said ‘yes for you’ Linda just stared at the campervan and said she felt like she was going to cry, she gave everyone a hug, and she was clearly thrilled.

Linda and her house mates got in the campervan with Jackie support worker and headed for the pub, of course they took a long drive around Beverley first before pulling up in the pub car park, where her mum and other staff were ready and waiting to take photos.

Linda posed for pictures in the driving seat, in the back, stood in front and at the side of the van, still beaming with smiles and loud with laughter. She said ‘It’s the best birthday ever! A dream come true.’

After photos Linda and her housemates went inside the pub for birthday tea but not before waving the campervan off down the street, with Linda still laughing.

Drinks and food were ordered and then Linda set about opening her birthday presents, all of which she was thrilled with. A good hearty meal was eaten, much conversation had and lots of fun and laughter, then the waitresses came to Linda’s table with a cake lit with candles. Linda noticed almost immediately that her cake was a campervan cake and said ‘more campervans!’ and she was even more pleased with it when she was told that Vanessa had made it for her. Linda thanked all the staff for everything they had done for her and making her dream come true.

Linda wanted to say the following “It was my birthday I got took out to the house with Marie and outside was a campervan red and white. I did not know what to say and had pictures with the campervan then went for a ride in the campervan and looked inside it and it was great, it made my day and we went around Beverley and then went to the pub for my party and had more pictures with the campervan and one in front driving and my head out of the window. Then in the pub for tea and have a good time, ate food and pudding and I had a campervan birthday cake and it was nice and a happy birthday, balloons then time to go back home for a rest.”