GUESTS at one of Blackpool’s leading seafront hotels are lighting up the lives of youngsters living in a Kenyan children’s home.
After reading about the Happy House Children Home, opened by former Blackpool landlady Sue Hayward and her charity, Children of Watamu the family who own the Lyndene, have sponsored two children –Sifa, 12, and Melis, four.
Debbie Dunn, who runs the hotel with her father Barry Young, said they are encouraging guests, many who stay several times a year, to take an interest in the lives and progress of Sifa and Melis and their 56 Happy House “brothers and sisters.”
Happy House news, with photographs, and regular updates they receive on their children are posted on a notice board – including school reports!
The Lyndene, which does a great deal for charity, was keen to help because they could see how Sue and her Happy House are truly transforming the lives of children who have been orphaned, abandoned, abused or neglected.
Debbie said: “I read an article in The Gazette explaining about Sue and her husband and the wonderful work they are doing and found it very touching. As a mother myself and coming from a close family (myself, husband, parents, sister, daughter and uncle all work together in the hotel) you just take family for granted. Someone is always there for you should you need them but these children of Watamu wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for the Happy House.
“The Lyndene and its guests have always been very generous, supporting nominated charities and we are sure they will love supporting the children of the Happy House.
“As many are parents, grandparents and even great grandparents and they will enjoy following the progress of Sifa and Melis. It’s so nice to see the money donated goes directly to the cause. Sifa and Melis are absolutely beautiful and their stories are heartbreaking. We are all very much looking forward to supporting them and the Happy House.”
Sifa has been at the Happy House since it opened in March 2010, along with his younger brother and sister, John and Karembo. They were in a terrible state of neglect, hungry and infested with intestinal worms, ringworm and their fingers and toes being eaten away by burrowing fleas.
After their single mum died they had been left with a grandmother, sick with TB and unable to cope. But being a part of the Happy House family, built on love and respect, the children nurtured and nourished and are now happy, healthy, confident children.
Four-year-old Melis is also an orphan and was being cared for by an elderly neighbour who makes a living selling potent palm wine to locals. Melis was considered to be at risk and the children’s office asked the Happy House to give her a home… she settled down instantly.
As part of their fundraising efforts the Lyndene sell £1 glow sticks to guests, giving them their own chance to light up lives of those they are helping.
Debbie sent some of the light sticks out to the Happy House with a recent visitor, Sheila Davies from Kirkham.
Sheila, an award-winning amateur photographer and member of Poulton Photographic Society, took pictures of the children having their own switch-on. H
er pictures appear in a new documentary, produced by Sheila, which is a moving account of Sue’s work at the Happy House and the magic it weaves on its children.
A Very Special Job www.childrenofwatamu.net/your-feedback/a-very-special-job has beaten off stiff competition for a showing at a Royal Photographic Society festival in Cirencester, next month.
Sheila said: “The light sticks from the Lyndene helped illustrate the theme of magic. The Happy House magic is something I experienced for myself, it is very special place indeed.”
To find out more about the Happy House visit www.childrenofwatamu.net