On Saturday 14th July, over 1,000 guests gathered for what turned out to be the biggest Sundial Festival to date. For Stepping Stones School and Undershaw families it’s a time to celebrate the achievements of the academic year and for the students to showcase their talents in musical performances, to the ever-growing audience.

Larry Sullivan, Chair and Founder of COINS Foundation began proceedings by speaking to guests about the challenges young people with disabilities face after leaving education. With Stepping Stones School and Undershaw flourishing and bringing out students’ potential in the classroom, the next logical step was to look at the transition into working life, and to take the work experience opportunities that students gain from work experience at the Cookie Bar to the next step. The new initiative, Project Search aims to do just that. Funded by the DFN Foundation its focus is on tackling the high unemployment levels of those with disabilities. Their programmes offer supported job placement as well as developing skills required for CV development and job searches. COINS Foundation has agreed to grants that will support the programme over the next 5 years and COINS Global will be promoting the programme within the construction sector to encourage their clients and others in the industry to offer SEN placements as part of the programme. David Forbes Nixon, Chairman, DFN Foundation commented:

What a brilliant and uplifting event at Sundial. We were delighted to have a Project SEARCH team here to let people know what we are doing in the supported employment space and we are very grateful for the generous support of COINS Foundation.

David Forbes Nixon - DFN Foundation

Past students Amie Humphries and Joe Shaw were invited to the stage to receive awards and to be congratulated on their recent academic achievements. Joe received a 2.1 for his degree in fine art and Amie who received a First Class honours has been accepted at UCL to do a Masters in conservation. Their accomplishments truly highlight the success of Stepping Stones at developing individual’s full potential. Amie and Joe offer real inspiration to existing students as they witness what can be achieved in the face of some adversity.

The highlight then commenced with vocal performances from several Stepping Stones students which left spectators impressed by the talent and confidence that had been attained to perform. Our huge congratulations to all performers; Frankie, Charlie, Barney, Scarlett, Lucy, Liam, Georgia, Seb and Elena whose songs included; Something Inside So Strong, Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill and an upbeat rendition of Proud Mary.

We were delighted to welcome several of our partners, including PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) who work to create affordable and good quality secondary education as well as bridging the education gap between males and females, with the ongoing goal of a 50/50 ratio in classes.

The PEAS team turned out in force to enjoy the fantastic Sundial festival. We really enjoyed the opportunity to raise awareness of PEAS work expanding access to quality education in Africa. It was also really inspiring to meet all of the other charities who are supported by the COINS Foundation. A great day!

Laura Brown – CEO, PEAS

We also welcomed partners Habitat for Humanity who are working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live, where housing poverty and homelessness are eliminated. They believe that a home is a key catalyst in helping to permanently break the cycle of poverty and offer volunteering opportunities both in the UK and abroad to support this.

Sundial 2018 was a brilliant event as it has been in previous years. It is great to be part of the COINS Foundation family and to meet the other great charities and supporters. It’s a great opportunity to talk to about the impact of our work and to show our gratitude to all at COINS who have supported us.

Tum Kazunga - CEO of Habitat for Humanity

Local charity, Challengers, were also well represented. Challengers provide exciting, challenging and – most importantly – inclusive play and leisure activities for disabled children and young people in Surrey, Hampshire and now further afield.

Challengers was so happy to be invited to be a part of such an incredible event. It gave us the opportunity to meet so many new families who wanted to know more about how we can help but also spend valuable time with COINS and the charities they support. This is how you do CSR!

Laura Sercombe – CEO, Challengers

Brian Grimwood from Frensham Pond Sailability was also present with their adapted boat catching guests’ attention and demonstrating what can be achieved with the correct equipment. Sailability creates opportunities and offers coaching for individuals with disabilities to experience the freedom of sailing and allowing them to progress to competition, working closely with Stepping Stones School and others interested in taking on the water.

Another great occasion! Our boat display attracted considerable interest from young attendees and their families, highlighting a supported outdoor sporting opportunity which perhaps they hadn’t previously considered.

Brian Grimwood - Sailability
Cookie Bar Bus

Our own social enterprise businesses were out in force with the iconic Cookie Bar Bus serving guests with coffees and cookies. For those who’d welcome a regular delivery of these delicious cookies, their subscription cookie service operates nationwide and supports the Stepping Stones School work experience placements at the Hindhead store. The Cookie Bar bus is available to hire for events.

Free Bird Film, our film production company produce high quality commercial films and the profits fund the production of films with a social message for NGO’s and charities. Free Bird were not only capturing the day on film but they also provided green screens and special effects experience so that guests could enjoy and interactive film experience.

Chris Pickford, founder of Snow Therapy brought along adaptive skiing equipment including sit ski’s and out riggers to demonstrate to families how winter sports can be inclusive. Paralympic champion and multi-medalist Rachel Morris was on hand to inspire all with tales from her Paralympic journeys in hand cycling and rowing and her recent first experiences of skiing with Snow Therapy. Snow Therapy works in conjunction with Hotel Birgkarhaus, our Austrian social enterprise hotel whose profits are allocated to Disability Skiing and Mountain Rescue. Chris offers coaching both at the Snow Dome in Hemel Hempstead as well as supporting family ski trips in Austria, at Hotel Birgkarhaus.

Throughout the day guests were able to again enjoy wonderful food and a multitude of activities.

We welcomed a new addition this year, Henry the mechanical horse, a riding simulator, introduced as part of the equine empowerment programme. Renowned for providing experiential learning and therapeutic opportunities, the programme is growing in size at Sundial and has already moved many young people forward in both their confidence and self-regulation. Individuals of all ages were able to experience the freedom of horse riding and local Paralympian Sophie Christianson and Team GBR Para rider Nicky Greenhill were also on hand to speak to guests about their journey from riding for therapy to competition and offer advice to those looking at getting involved.

The mini Tesla cars also proved to be fantastic entertainment for the younger guests who all displayed driving skills far superior than their ages would suggest! Other activities included; tennis, zorbing, bouncy castles, henna painting, a climbing wall, photo booth, fishing and much more – why not take a look at our photo album from the day and see what else was happening?

Thank you to the PTA who organized a superb and well supported raffle, which boasted a number of great prizes. To pick up some more great offers, our silent auction is open until the end of the July with 20 prizes available, including; theatre tickets, a 4 day ski break and a luxury yacht cruise. All funds raised will be going to Stepping Stones School to enable them to purchase an employability car for young people accessing placements local to their homes prior to preparing to travel independently.

Sponsored by COINS Global, this annual event continues to be wonderful way to bring together students, parents and staff from Stepping Stones School, our charity partners and many of the COINS Global employees and their families.

Thanks must be extended to all our organisers and many volunteers who helped to make this a truly spectacular day. We look forward to welcoming you again to Sundial Festival 2019.