Destination Disney was created by a combination of British airways ground staff, Dr David Evans and Sister Alex Shaw. It came about as a number of northern based children were nominated to go on a trip to Florida through a London based charity but were not selected. The idea was to provide a holiday of a lifetime for children with life-threatening illnesses and conditions and who were living in the northern part of England. We had to quickly Change our name Due to The Disney TM and Destination Florida Was Born.
The first Destination Florida trip took place with only just 25 children staying at Coco Beach .
Trips have taken place every 2 years since that time. The venue has changed as Coco Beach was thought to be too far and too exhausting for the children to travel to enjoy the Florida attractions.
Since that time hotel accommodation has been provided within the vicinity of the major theme parks helping to make the magical experience even better.
Birthday’s, The Gifts and Card Company helped sponsor us by selling our Dolphin Pin Badges in stores across the UK. To show our appreciation their logo was implemented onto all our children’s and Volunteer’s t-shirts and hats.
Corporate company Morson and their CEO Ged Mason started supporting our charity by providing all the children’s and volunteer’s t-shirts and hats. A wonderful relationship was born between ourselves and Morson, with Ged joining our board of Trustee’s.
MBE Michael Hymanson joined as our Chairman. His dedication to us as a charity and over 1600 children has been second to none.
We changed hotels from Cocoa Beach which was approximately 64.3 miles away from Disney World or a 1 hour coach journey. This was too long for our children to travel every day so we relocated to a hotel much closer: The Charge Hotel La Quinta, Kissimmee on Route 192.
We decided to start taking the children on a shopping day to the Florida Mall which then changed to The Orlando Premier Mall. It has now become one of our most exciting days for the children as a lot of them save their daily pocket money provided by us, to buy themselves something very special.
This may come as a surprise but this trip year we decided to take the children to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, we previously thought with the volume of visitors the park has, that it wasn’t ideal for the children, but by this point Destination Florida had grown and we had triple the volunteer’s. With the correct planning and the dedication from our team visiting the park was a huge success! After all it is where a certain famous mouse lives.
Destination Florida was growing and we needed bigger premises. In March 2002 we moved from Manchester Airport to our current home for the past 17 years Clarendon Business Park.
Ann Billington and Arthur Arrowsmith were taken on to look after the everyday running’s of the charity, the future was exciting for Destination Florida
We changed hotels again due to The Grand Orlando Resort at Celebration, they have superior facilities to cater for children with disabilities/disadvantage, and they also provide 24 hour security on the premises with an added bonus of it being a 10 minute journey to all of the parks.
Also in this year we did an extra trip to Euro Disney, for Henshaw’s School for the Blind. We took 12 children, compared to our big trip of 72 children and the trip consisted of 4 days instead of a week.
Jump 4 years to 2010, our trips were becoming bigger and better. Instead of the usual 7 days we thought we would try 10. The trip was a success, but after much reflection, we decided 7 was enough for the children.
We decide to stop visiting Sea World and changed to one of our now most beloved theme parks Animal Kingdom! Hanukah Matata!
We introduced “Sponsor a day” to corporate companies, such as Morson, Hustwood Holdings, Together Money and many more. This has been so successful, we are very lucky to have the amazing support all our companies past and present. Each day/theme park we dedicate to that sponsor, with their logo being displayed proudly on our t-shirts around the parks.
Ben Morrison our Office and Events Manager began working for Destination Florida, his knowledge of events and business have been key to driving DF forward as Company. Implementing easier tools and planning strategies help all aspects of planning the trip run smoothly.
A very special year for Destination Florida as we turned 30 year old. We had a record breaking year of fundraising and employed more staff to help with the organising of the trip.
We held our anniversary Ball at the Mere Golf and Spa Resort in Knutsford.
Our chairman invited representative’s from our 2018 sponsors to join us on the trip, a fantastic way for them to see what their support gives and the difference it makes to the children’s lives. This is something we are keen to carry on in future trips.
Arthur Arrowsmith our long standing co-worker and supporter for 30 years retired, with a well-deserved break.
Going into 2019 we decided that as much as we loved our 2 dolphins in our logo it was time for something fresh! A complete Re-brand for Destination Florida starting with a much more modern and eye-catching logo, new and exciting promotional videos, to the website you are viewing today!
Watch this space because 2020 has much more in store!
Office and Events Manager
Social Media and Office Administrator
Stephanie Shires Trip Coordinator
Michael Hymanson MBE Chairman
Gerard Mason OBE
Dr Adam Nicholls Medical Trustee
The carefully planned trips involve taking the children to all the major theme parks including Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Islands of Adventure. The charity holds a number of major events throughout the year including a Summer Ball and a Question of Entertainment and has a substantial team who enter the Manchester 10K.