Torch Holidays are special for two very good reasons - because they are Christian holidays and because every aspect and detail is planned with people who experience sight loss in mind.
Torch Holidays exemplify every one of Torch Trust's core values:
Christ-centred - People-focussed - Open - Creative
Most - but not all - Torch Holidays take place at Torch Trust's own Centre in West Sussex. As it's our Centre we have worked over the years to make sure that it's a place that maximises both the independence of blind and partially sighted people and their inclusion in the entirety of each holiday programme.
There's a great diversity in Torch Holidays - book weeks to activity weeks, craft and music, walking and simply taking it easy in the summer sunshine.
Each year we also seek to include in the Torch Holidays programme at least one holiday at another location in Britain and one abroad, always at carefully chosen locations that we know are going to work for our guests.
It’s easy to see why people with sight loss come back year after year to stay at Torch Holiday & Retreat Centre. For them it’s simply 'home from home'! This isn’t just a holiday centre in the conventional sense of the words. It’s a lovely comfortable country house with beautiful grounds that’s home to Holidays Leader Gail Millar and her own family and becomes home for every guest who arrives at the front door. And every guest and sighted companion becomes a friend. Torch holidays are about enjoying being together. Gail leads all the holidays and has many years of experience of working with blind and partially sighted people.
“As soon as we arrive it’s like coming home! Torch is so special to us and we now come three or four times a year.” – Brian and Margaret
“. . . such a beautiful home. All the staff and volunteers are always willing to do anything and everything for you. I know I am loved there.” – Pat
“The hospitality is off the scale. Torch should be awarded 10 stars!” – Jeff
“We have been waited on, served, loved, spoilt, cherished. It is a special place on this earth. The comfort and the food are second to none.” – Nora
Torch Holiday & Retreat Centre is a place where, as one guest said, “it’s normal to be blind.” This is emphasised in the accessibility of all the facilities and in the provision of braille and giant print materials and, most importantly, in the experience and training of Gail and her team. All outings and activities – many of them ambitious – have been thoroughly researched in terms of suitability for people with sight loss, with attention to detail that’s exceptional.
“I was very apprehensive . . . since losing my sight I have been very afraid of strange places and new people. But I have never felt more comfortable in my life . . . everyone was so helpful and understanding.” – Anne
“Torch Holidays . . . they organise and think of everything.” – Molly
“Torch is new to me, but I have fallen in love with the place already. The people are so friendly, kind and helpful. It’s nothing like anywhere else I have been and I am now 92.” – Joan
“Everyone is so friendly, the atmosphere is unique. The kindness shown from first thing in the morning to last thing at night is amazing.” – Rose
Another special feature of a Torch holiday is the daily opportunity for guests to take time to think about their spiritual wellbeing and welfare as well as being refreshed physically and mentally. The centre welcomes blind and partially sighted people of all faiths and none; it is a place of peace, prayer, personal retreat and renewal. There is a strong Christian ethos which is reflected not only practically in the care offered by all the staff and volunteers, but also in the daily opportunities to take part in the spiritual programme offered. A number of Christian speakers lead this aspect of the holidays and all are encouraged to participate. A Torch holiday means renewal for body, mind and spirit.
Some guests may choose to come with sighted companions, who always find they themselves have a very fulfilling holiday too. But Gail and the team, many of them volunteers, have all been appropriately trained to give support such as guiding and audio description for blind guests. They become “eyes” for the week as well as friends.
“. . . a place where I know I will be loved, fed really well by Gail’s wonderful food and also fed well spiritually.” –Lynn
“. . . an amazing place! The people here live out their faith, it is a living example of Christianity. I love the community . . . everyone is so friendly, from the young to the old. We will definitely be back. My husband lost his sight five years ago . . . finding Torch and coming here has been the best thing that has happened in those years.” – Isobel and Bill
“We have had so much fun, my ribs are aching with laughter. The food is fantastic. The people here are amazing, so full of God’s love.” –Marion
Torch Holiday & Retreat Centre is on the edge of the historic village of Hurstpierpoint in West Sussex. The secluded grounds have wonderful views of the South Downs and there are many lovely local countryside walks. A number of places of interest are within easy reach, and the seaside town of Brighton is just nine miles away.
The house itself accommodates up to 22 guests in single, double, twin and family rooms, all with their own washing facilities and radio. Priority for ground floor rooms is given to those unable to manage stairs.
The large lounge is fitted with a loop system for the benefit of the hearing impaired.
There is also a smaller south-facing sun lounge with views over the garden and the hills.
The dining room at Torch Holiday & Retreat Centre is the setting for lively family-style mealtimes with plenty of delicious home‑made meals. All holidays include full board – from early morning tea brought to your room through to breakfast, lunch, three-course dinner, supper and all refreshments. Packed lunches are provided for all days out. Special diets can be catered for.
Transport for trips out in the accessible minibus is included in the cost – in fact, the holidays are completely fully inclusive.
Other facilities include internet access, a TV room, and tea and coffee making stations. Attached to the house is a beautiful chapel, available for private prayer or meditation.
The grounds of the Centre include a recently established small sensory garden and a new decked quiet area. Adjacent to the house is a large terraced area, much used in the summer.
Interested and want to know which holiday to choose - and , of course, how much they cost? Do remember that the prices are fully inclusive. Unless you want to go shopping you won't need any cash.
Follow this link for the 2014 listing of Torch Holidays, both at the Torch Holiday & Retreat Centre, and elsewhere.
To make an enquiry and to book call Torch Holidays on 01273 832282 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.