About Destination Florida

About Destination Florida

Where it all began


1987

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 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.

1988

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.

1990

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.

1992

Corporate company Morson Group and their CEO Ged Mason OBE 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.

1994

Michael Hymanson MBE joined as our Chairman. His dedication to the 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 far too long for the children to travel every day so we relocated to a hotel much closer: The Charge Hotel, La Quinta, Kissimmee on Route 192.

1994

We changed hotels from Cocoa Beach which was approximately 64.3 miles away from Disney World or a 1 hour coach journey. This was far too long for the children to travel every day so we relocated to a hotel much closer: The Charge Hotel, La Quinta, Kissimmee on Route 192.

1998

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.

2000

This may come as a surprise, but this trip year we decided to take the children to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We previously felt that with the volume of visitors Magic Kingdom had that this wouldn’t be ideal for our children. However Destination Florida had grown and we had now tripled the volunteer’s. With the correct planning and the dedication from our team visiting Magic Kingdom was a huge success! After all it is where a certain famous mouse lives.

2002

Destination Florida was growing and we needed bigger premises. In March 2002 we moved from Manchester Airport to our current home, Clarendon Business Centre.

Ann Billington and Arthur Arrowsmith were taken on to look after the everyday running’s of the charity and the future was exciting for Destination Florida.

2006

WWe changed hotels again to The Grand Orlando Resort at Celebration. They had superior facilities to cater for children with disabilities and they also provided 24 hour security on the premises. An added bonus was that the new hotel was only 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.

2010

Jump 4 years ahead 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.

2012

We decide to stop visiting Sea World and changed to one of our now most beloved theme parks Animal Kingdom! Hakunah Matata!

2014

We introduced “Sponsor a day” to corporate companies, such as Morson, Hustwood Holdings, Together Money and many more. This has become so successful and we are very lucky to have the amazing support from all companies both past and present. Each day/theme park is dedicated to a sponsor, with their logo being displayed proudly on our t-shirts around the parks.

2016

Ben Morrison officially joined the team as our Office and Events Manager. His knowledge of events and business have been key to driving DF forward as a company. Implementing easier tools and planning strategies to help with all aspects of planning the trip and making it run even more smoothly. Ben Morrison - Destination Florida

2017

Becca Massey joined the team to expand our social media presence and office support with events. The social media for the charity was needing to be expanded and Becca was the driving force to make this happen. Becca Joins Destination Florida

2018

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. This was a fantastic way for them to see what their sponsorship went towards and the difference it makes to the children’s lives. This is something we are keen to carry on for 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!

2020

This year we have gone totally digital with all our trip applications, making the process much easier. We had to say goodbye to our dear friends at Thomas Cook due to the unfortunate collapse of the company and found a new airline to help us, Virgin Atlantic.

Steph Shires joined the team to coordinate our 2020 trip, with a vast knowledge of everything aviation and Florida, Steph is excited to work with the team and make the 2020 trip the best one to date.


The Team

Ben Morrison
Office and Events Manager

Becca Massey
Social Media and Office Administrator

Stephanie Shires
Trip Coordinator

Current Trustees

Michael Hymanson MBE
Chairman

Gerard Mason OBE

Dr Adam Nicholls
Medical Trustee

Mark Sharples