Photo taken at Abbeycroft’s Family Park Cooking Event – Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds.
(credit Phil Morley Photography)

Pictured L-R: Explore Outdoor activity leader, Cllr Robert Everitt, Jo Churchill MP, Sarah Howard – Abbeycroft’s chair of Trustees, Frank Carn-Pryor -Explore Outdoor Coordinator, Cllr Terry Clements, family from the Family Park Cooking day.

A summer programme of events helping around 1,300 children across West Suffolk was visited by local MP, Jo Churchill and local councillors.

She joined West Suffolk Councillors Robert Everitt and local member Terry Clements at the Summer Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) events, Family Park Cooking and Adventure Days, on Tuesday 10 August, running at Nowton Park.

Eligible parents and carers throughout West Suffolk are being helped through a free holiday clubs programme for children and young people over the school summer break.

The Government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, available throughout the region this summer is backed by a nationwide investment of up to £220 million. This will enable children and young people to enjoy fun activities with friends and learn and develop new skills.

The free programme of activities, coordinated locally by West Suffolk Council, is targeted at those who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals. Most events will also have spaces which can be paid for by families who are not eligible for a free place.

Activities include making camp-fires, preparing food, cooking, orientation, team building and archery with Abbeycroft Leisure. The adventure days will take place in Brandon, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket.

Holiday camps are being held in Barrow, Beck Row, Brandon, Bury St Edmunds and Lakenheath. Run by Premier Education they will include painting plus a range of sports including–hockey, archery, football, crochet and tennis.

At West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, there’s a chance to enjoy “Terrible Tales” about the mythical characters Beowulf and Grendel, as well as archery and a tour of the Anglo-Saxon village before washing their hands and making some delicious fresh pizzas.

Adventure based activities including raft building, orienteering, shooting air rifles, pioneering, swimming, plus playing volleyball and go-karting will all feature in the Xplore the World day camp at Culford school.

And in Newmarket, Newmarket Community Arts working alongside Newmarket Town Council will be delivering events including sculpturing, drumming workshops, dance workshops and family yoga sessions.

Councillor Robert Everitt, West Suffolk Council, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities said: “We are were delighted to host MP Jo Churchill and show her what a success the programme is already and the great feedback we have had from parents, carers and importantly the young people themselves. The council is very pleased to be working with partners and Suffolk County Council to deliver this programme of free activities primarily for young people who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals. They can enjoy fun activities that will enable them to develop new skills, build confidence, take part in creative and physical activities, learn about food and cooking and enjoy free nutritious meals each day.”

The Government’s investment in the HAF programme builds on the foundations laid by West Suffolk Council, sporting organisations, charities and the voluntary sector during the successful programme over the Easter holidays. This initiative is running alongside the £200 million funding announced in February to provide summer schools to help pupils who have experienced the most disruption as a result of the pandemic.

Jo Churchill MP, MP for Bury St Edmunds and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Department of Health and Social Care said: “It was wonderful to see this scheme in action helping children and families have fun whilst being supported to develop life skills, such as food preparation, cooking and staying active and healthy. I am pleased to see this national scheme being delivered on the ground in West Suffolk and all the partner agencies working together to help children and families enjoy their summer whilst picking up new skills along the way.”

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “Our pioneering Holiday Activities and Food programme has been expanded nationwide this year for the first time, so it will benefit many more children than ever before. This year, especially, I want children to make the most of their school holidays, so I’m thrilled that there is so much support and enthusiasm for the programme. This significant expansion across the country and to every local authority will support even more children over the holidays with healthy meals, fun activities, and learning opportunities.”

Andrew Forsey, Chair of the HAF Alliance said: “The importance of an enriching holiday experience for all children cannot be underestimated. There is evidence that the best HAF programmes benefit children, parents and communities by enabling children to learn new skills, socialise with friends, and enjoy nutritious food in a safe environment, while supporting their return to school and alleviating parental stress. The HAF Alliance is sharing its expertise and best practice with local authorities to help them to develop and deliver excellent holiday programmes for their local communities.”

Parents and carers who think their children and young people might benefit from free holiday clubs can book via an interactive map at Suffolk Infolink – Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme. If they have any queries they should email

Press release issued by West Suffolk Council.