Rainbow Centre in Fareham marks 25th birthday

From left Reuben Smith, five, from Whiteley with The Mayoress of Fareham Anne Ford, Harry Smith, 11 who is the 2014/2015 Fareham Young Citizen of The Year, along with the Mayor of Fareham Cllr Mike Ford ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150627-5380)
From left Reuben Smith, five, from Whiteley with The Mayoress of Fareham Anne Ford, Harry Smith, 11 who is the 2014/2015 Fareham Young Citizen of The Year, along with the Mayor of Fareham Cllr Mike Ford ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150627-5380)
Children from Little People's Nursery with patients at QA Hospital  Picture: Habibur Rahman

Children spend afternoon with QA Hospital patients

  • Praise for Rainbow Centre at family fun day
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IT’S been 25 years of grit, determination, setbacks and success.

But all the highs and lows have clearly been worth it when the charity looks back on all the people’s lives it has helped to transform.

Hundreds of people gathered at The Rainbow Centre, in Fareham, as the charity celebrated its 25th birthday.

A year ago the centre had no money in the reserves and was facing closure, but an appeal backed by The News helped to turn the charity’s fortunes around and get it back on track.
Helen Somerset How, 65, who was one of the founders of the charity, said it was an emotional day looking back over the last 25 years.

She retired three years ago after leading the charity for 22 years.

In the beginning she would regularly put in 18-hour days to get the organisation off the ground.

Alexis Arthur, three on a donkey ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150627-3891)

Alexis Arthur, three on a donkey ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150627-3891)

She said: ‘It’s an emotional day for me – to see that my legacy lives on.

‘After 22 years it would have been sad for it not to continue.

‘There’s a team of people here that are passionate. They are taking this centre on another journey.’

The charity offers conductive education – a way of improving strength and mobility – to both children and adults with MS, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and people recovering from head injuries and stroke.

Founder of The Rainbow Centre (left to right) Helen Somerset-How  with Felix Snell, seven, from Hayling Island, who has  cerebral palsy and his brother Theo Snell ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150627-5329)

Founder of The Rainbow Centre (left to right) Helen Somerset-How with Felix Snell, seven, from Hayling Island, who has cerebral palsy and his brother Theo Snell ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150627-5329)

The service brings a range of health professionals and disciplines on one site for a holistic approach.

It supports 50 adults and 40 children from across southern England.

One of those to benefit is Felix Snell, seven, who has cerebral palsy.

His mum Alice Snell, 43, from Hayling Island, said: ‘It’s helped us massively.

‘It’s helped Felix to do things which he would not otherwise have done.

‘He first moved here independently. He crawled down a ramp for the first time here when he was about three.

‘Felix first learned to ride a bike here – I never thought that would be possible.’

She added: ‘They are a lifeline.

‘People don’t realise it also benefits the other children because they understand the world we are now part of.

‘It makes us more open-minded and understanding about disability in general. If the Rainbow Centre was not here, it does not bear thinking about.

‘We would have to travel miles to get the same level of support.’