Celebrating 20 Years of Over The Wall

In 1988, British businessman Joe Woods read about Paul Newman building a camp in the US specifically for children suffering with cancer. Thinking it would be a great idea to take kids from the UK to such a place, Joe started a dialogue with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and was given permission to deliver six UK children to the very first camp. Joe then enlisted the help of Richard Branson who very kindly provided free flights via Virgin Atlantic and the rest is history.
 
The Over the Wall Gang charity was set up in 1989 and more and more UK children attended the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut in the years that followed, still supported by Joe and Richard Branson. Joe became close friends with Paul Newman and as similar camps began to spring up throughout the US, Paul asked Joe to look at setting up camps in Europe.
 
In his own inimitable style, Joe then went about setting up Barretstown camp in Ireland, L’Envol camp in France and then Over The Wall in the UK. One small sentence to cover what was, in practice, an amazing body of work that took place over many years and it’s testament to Joe’s work that all three camps are thriving today and serving thousands of campers a year.
 

 
Take a step back in time, and see where it all began…
 

1999: Over The Wall is founded by Joe Woods

UK businessman Joe Woods is inspired by his friend, Oscar winning actor and SeriousFun network founder, Paul Newman.

1999: 25 children attend the first OTW camp

2001: First Siblings Camp is held

2005: OTW caters for children and young people with 15 different health conditions

2006: 80,000 volunteer hours are clocked-up at camp

2007: First Scotland camp is held

2007: OTW hits its target of recruiting 500 volunteers

2009: Five camps take place and 31 volunteer doctors and nurses are recruited

2012: OTW introduces its first paid clinical member of staff: Natalie Marshall, who is now OTW's Director of Services

2012: OTW camps can now cater for 130 different health conditions

2012: First Family Camp is held at Tulliallan, Scotland with 8 families in attendance

2013: 10 camps are held at locations around the UK

2014: City Bridge Trust confirm a three year grant totalling £102K to help grow camper numbers from London

2014: We reach the target of 500 camp attendees and 600 volunteers recruited

2015: Fundraising target of £1m is raised in one year

2016: Our first partner camp is launched with Epilepsy Action

2016: Hasbro - the multinational toy and board game company pledges support to OTW camps

Hasbro UK has donated hundreds of toys and games to camp, creating memorable moments of fun for campers, families and volunteers. A team of Hasbro staff came to camp to lead amazing activity workshops to our campers, helping us to launch our Camp Creatives corporate volunteering programme.

2016: Ofsted rated 'Outstanding'

2016: Abercrombie & Fitch commit to supporting SeriousFun worldwide with $15 million over five years

Abercrombie & Fitch started supporting Flying Horse Farms in 2011. Driven by a groundswell of enthusiasm, in 2016 they committed to supporting SeriousFun worldwide . A&F's amazing support includes providing all camp apparel, a worldwide volunteer programme, and organising the annual A&F fundraiser..

2017: Ofsted rated 'Outstanding'

2017: Kentown Wizard Foundation pledges three years’ support totalling £860K

“The wonderful support from the Kentown Wizard Foundation will allow us to grow our charity so we can run many more additional camps and provide the opportunity to other UK children’s charities to use these camps." - Kevin Mathieson, OTW CEO

2017: Big Lottery agrees a three year grant totalling £103,215 to support the OTW volunteer programme

2018: OTW receives a ‘Community Allergy Hero Award’ from Allergy UK for its camp held in partnership with Anaphylaxis Campaign

"Incredible effort was made to ensure the entire camp environment was safe, and a menu was created with multiple options at every meal where every single child could have every single item on the menu."

2018: OTW becomes a certified Approved Activity Provider for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

2018: Third consecutive ‘Outstanding’ award from Ofsted

"The staff have successfully created an environment in which children can thrive and not just survive... The quality, range and accessibility of activities are immense."

#Challenge20

There are an estimated 50,000 children and young people in the UK living with a serious health challenge. Our vision is that all children and young people, living with the challenges of serious illness and disability, can access transformational therapeutic recreation camp programmes, free of charge.

There are a number of ways that you can help us continue our work in this, our twentieth year; take up an exciting challenge event and raise money for OTW, nominate us as your organisation’s Charity of the Year, volunteer in a day-time, residential, clinical or non-clinical role, find out about other ways to give or make a donation by clicking below.

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