My name is Sara Bottomley and I’m thrilled to say that every generation of our family has memories to share…not that my mum, who is 83, realised that her childhood stays at Belgrave House in 1946 had any connection to Rock UK!
She has been supporting Joshua, our son, her grandson, as he does the ITP at Whithaugh and was thrilled to learn of the link between her childhood summers at the Brethren holidays and her grandson!
She has written this:
‘I first went, with my brother, to stay at Belgrave House in Fitzalan Road in 1946.The war was over and it was our first visit to the seaside. Belgrave House was a children’s Home run by Mr and Mrs Maddox who came from Coventry and were like us, Plymouth Brethren. We had prayers every morning and service in the evening, held in the meeting hall. Mr Maddox ran these.
During the day we were taken for walks along the front and time on the beach, where we made texts (verses from the Bible) on the wet sand. Nurse Todd looked after us, she was always kind and put us to bed at night and said prayers with us. On Sundays we would walk to the Gospel Hall in Littlehampton. When my brother grew older he would stay at Climping Camp – no girls allowed. They slept 8 to a bell tent, food was prepared in a large wooden building. They had a flag pole too!’
My mum did make it to Climping Camp eventually, but as the cook for the YPF of Crofton Baptist Church in September, 1986. I was 17 and it was a hot and unforgettable weekend. The bell tents and eating area remained. We went, girls and boys in these more modern days. We played rounders, sang round the camp fire, had prayers and, perhaps most memorably, were taken on a walk to the beach…. by my mum…who seemed to remember the way. But the beach wasn’t a naturist beach back in the day. It was extremely funny … she still gets embarrassed about it.
Mum and Dad went on to take groups of 11 year olds from the church midweek club to Halls Green through the 80s. My dad, a PE teacher, loved the outdoor activities and the way they were combined with faith, I think he loved the centre as much as the children did. It was one of his favourite places.
Then, in 1993 and again after we came back from the mission field in Nepal; we, Andrew and I, got well acquainted with Carroty Wood as leaders of the very same youth group – but without the naturist interest! Our youth groups had a good time, praying, learning about Jesus, singing, setting off the smoke alarms at 3 am…having moonlit nature spotting walks and playing Chubby Bunnies. Carroty Wood was a great place to get closer to one another and to God.
So, as a family of three generations:
Bartliffs, Thompsons and Bottomleys, we have a range of happy memories about Belgrave, Barnabus and Rock and can testify that the special place all three have had in our lives as younger people.
God bless you.
Sara and Andrew Bottomley