Katie's Ski Tracks was born from an idea (a dream) which occurred to Martin Newman whilst working with sick and disabled children in Lourdes South West France in 1987-8. During his free time he would always venture up into the nearby Pyrenees Mountains and partake in his passion for skiing. It was here that he began to realise how very fortunate he was to be so fit and healthy and to be able to enjoy the sheer beauty and the therapeutic values that the mountains could offer him as here any problems or worries always seemed to vanish into insignificance.
These thoughts then played on his mind so much. If taking exercise in the sunshine, snow, scenery and the fresh crisp mountain air could make him feel so good and positive about himself, why on earth are these children excluded from all of these mountain values, surely this would appear to be life's natural medicine and we all know the importance of taking our own annual holidays.
After working in France, Martin then went on to work as a special ambulance driver, escorting the sick and disabled on holidays all over Europe. His first assignment took him to Italy and the Eternal City of Rome where the group managed an audience and blessing with the late Pope John Paul II. On the return journey a meal stop was arranged at the Hotel Pension Argentum in the beautiful Pflersch Valley, Sudtirol. It was here that Martin's four year dream started to unfold, as before his eyes he could now see the perfect setting to meet the needs of such a group.
Within half an hour he had made an impulsive booking with the hotelier and then telephoned home to England to try and gain the support that he knew would be required. The dream was now becoming reality and a good omen having had a blessing from the Pope only the previous day. Martin was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2006 and awarded an MBE for Services to Katie's Ski Tracks.
Martin's very good friend, the late Kate Noctor, became responsible for helping to establish the charity that first travelled in March 1991. Kate discovered on her return from this pioneering adventure in 1991, that she had melanoma (skin cancer). Having finished two courses of Chemotherapy and two operations later, Kate was still to be found hard at work establishing the second March holiday on which she also travelled, having only just finished her last course of Chemotherapy.
The following autumn the cancer had returned but Kate continued to work on for the forthcoming holiday and she was also determined to travel with the group but sadly, after undergoing major surgery that Christmas, Katie lost her own fight to cancer on 26 February 1993. Just one week later we held Katie's Service and with mixed emotions the very next morning we boarded the coach with another group of twenty sick and disabled children to set out on our 3rd holiday of a lifetime to Italy, in what is now known as Katie's Ski Tracks. "Making the impossible possible following in Katie's Ski Tracks".
This would have been the end of the story that Katie had started if it had not been for the persistence and dedication of Michelle Dooley, a helper on that 3rd holiday. Michelle stepped in to help run and develop the charity to its present position. Michelle has been instrumental in formulating all of the necessary risk assessments, policies and procedures that are now in place and, of course, the much needed raising of funds for all future holidays, thus keeping Katie's dreams and aspirations very much alive.
It is true that other organisations do take children on holidays with, by far, the majority going on Disney World type holidays etc. Martin felt that almost any child could go to Disney World and, of course, this always appeals to the general public. However, surely children wouldn't even begin to dream of being able to go skiing. So, at Katie's, we have gone for the impossible dream as we are now making the impossible very possible. Imagine sweeping down a snow-covered slope, when normally you are restricted, having spent long periods of time in hospital or by a wheelchair, callipers or crutches. Such children bare their disabilities with great courage and fortitude, far beyond that experienced by the average person.
In giving them a "skiing holiday of a lifetime", an experience which they will never forget, we too can share in their dream and make it reality. Self-confidence is the most valuable gift you can ever give a child and a skiing activity holiday is perhaps the best way to develop this elusive quality. At Katie's Ski Tracks, we provide a safe but challenging meaningful environment where children with no previous experience can explore their potential, discover hidden talents, learn new skills and make new friends from all over Great Britain. These are the basic building blocks to such holidays, if not life itself.
More importantly, we have seen from experience, that for children with a disability or life threatening illness, skiing can mean adventure, growth, development, self respect and independence, leading to a greater increase in their personal and social confidence and self esteem, once they believe in their abilities and then ultimately in themselves. They realise it may be a struggle but with a lot of self-help nothing is unachievable. All these experiences can be carried forward into later life to enable them to face the many challenges they will have to encounter throughout their lives.
The main objective at the end of each holiday is that the children will indeed have had that "holiday of a lifetime". Where the emphasis will have been on fun for all, enjoying all aspects of a Winter holiday, snowballing, sledging, building snowmen, fancy dress, disco's, sketches performed by both the children and helpers and many other activities and special surprises. On the final evening the children perform their own pantomime to entertain the helpers. This is followed by a torchlight procession to the local church.
Whilst all of these activities are more than covered medically, we don't carry them out in a hospital like regime. In fact, children have told parents that on these holidays they feel they are treated as "normal" for the first time in their lives. Parents are sure this is the secret to their child's immediate advancement to life on returning to school and family life.
Katie's children are between the ages of 7 - 15 and with the right equipment, instruction and safety precautions, skiing can provide a superb opportunity for the children to temporarily forget their disability and provide excellent therapeutic values, both physical and mental. These specialised holidays also give them the opportunity to fulfil a dream and bring into their short lives a measure of enjoyment, pleasure and achievement.
We travel overland on a specialised vehicle with our own adaptive trailer. The vehicle is equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and facilities required to transport the sick and disabled on holiday. Anyone that skis will appreciate the cost of taking their own skiing holiday these days and so I am sure you will realise when considering the very nature of these trips that they are expensive and the cost of these holidays for each child is at present approximately £2,200 but the rewards are of course one hundred fold.
May we thank you for paying us a visit and we hope you enjoy the rest of the site.