The Friendship Holiday was established in 2004 in conjunction with Oak Field School in Nottingham. Oak Field School is a special needs school for pupils with mental, physical and various other disabilities.
Over the past 18 years we have built a very close relationship with the staff and students of Oak Field. The Friendship Holiday itself is a week-long residential holiday, based in Alban Roe house at Ampleforth, during which thirty Middle Sixth Ampleforth students live with up to eighteen students of their own age from Oak Field. Our students are given the maximum possible responsibility for their guests, sharing accommodation, eating, praying, socialising and going on outings with them. Full training, discreet but strict guidelines and the watchful supervision of both Oak Field and Ampleforth staff mean that both sets of young people bond in a way which every year astonishes the Ampleforth students involved. ‘The highlight of my five years at Ampleforth’ is not an uncommon reflection afterwards. In the words of the Headmaster of Oak Field, ‘This long association demonstrates not only the importance of friendship, but also the learning that can take place when two communities work together. Your students are a credit to you.’
In addition, the thirty Middle Sixth students spend the whole of the previous year fundraising for the Holiday: the target is £10,000, but they often exceed this. Activities include pizza baking, organising and running social events for the younger students and the sixth form, collections, selling tuck at athletics competitions, making and selling Christmas cards, designing and selling a branded item of clothing – and in the summer term, getting sponsored for their flagship fundraising event, The Big Walk: 72km in 24 hours, walking overnight from Whitby to Ampleforth.