Receiving the invitation to become Butlin's Ambassadors was a dream come true. We'd been on a weekend Christmas break in December 2011 to the Bognor Regis resort, and pretty much fell in love with the hotel and all the facilities. It was around the time that I was chosen to become an Ambassador that I'd been thinking of booking another holiday there anyway, so the timing was perfect. We went for our five-day break in March and had such a magical time, that in the car on the way home I whipped out my phone and booked us on the special Ambassadors' weekend that was due to take place three weeks later.
That was last weekend, and if possible we had an even better time in three days than we did on our week-long break. There are two reasons for this.
- Laura from 'Tired Mummy of Two';
- The Skyline Gang.
When we went on our break in March, we had been so overwhelmed with all the outdoor and indoor activities in the very full programme that we didn't even contemplate booking in for activity sessions or trying to squash in the evening performances. This was a huge mistake, but easy to do. Laura took us under her very experienced Butlin's wing and booked us in to activity and craft sessions over the weekend, not a vast selection but enough to show us the plethora available. Everyone should have a Laura when they go on their Butlin's break.
For those not in the know (and if you've never been to Butlin's you'd be forgiven for not having a clue what I'm going on about), The Skyline Gang are a group of six performers (three women, three men) who make up the resident Butlin's own performance team; you'll only find them in Butlin's resorts (unlike external shows). Bud, Sprout, Pip, Candi, Mimi and Dude all have their own rainbow colour, and a very distintive personality. And they are magical.
On the Saturday evening we nipped into the Skyline Pavilion and assumed our position to watch the half-hour long performance of The Skyline Gang. The Boy was captivated, and to be fair he wasn't the only one. All six of the characters can sing, act and dance, and they did so without stopping for the entire performance. In this show, Candi loses her colour and her friends set out to ensure she returns to her characteristic pink. The Boy hasn't stopped talking about it all week.
After the show, we stayed around for a few minutes to meet the gang and this is where we realised their worth. All six stayed in character throughout the meet and greet session, and they were amazing. They quickly picked up on the children's names, sized up their confidence and approached them accordingly. There wasn't someone ushering them along, they didn't try and escape; The Skyline Gang stayed and engaged with the children until it was the infants who'd had enough. The Boy met everyone of the group and he fell in love with them there and then. His first ever hero-worship.
The next morning we went to our first activity; Circus Skills with The Skyline Gang. The Boy settled down in the centre of the room with the other thirty or so children and they all held onto the parachute while being assigned a Skyline Gang member's name. And then I saw his little lip going. He glanced around and a frantic 'mummy' was issued. Before I could get to him, Sprout was up and there, trying to reassure him that everything was ok. And he remembered his name from the night before. Out of all those children that he met that weekend, he remembered one three year old little boy's name. And he wasn't the only one. Because actually, all of The Skyline Gang tried to engage him and reassure him that he'd have fun. (I don't know what it was that upset him, I suspect he became confused about being given a different name, not realising what it meant). He soon settled down into rotating around the carousel of activities learning how to hula-hoop with Pip, juggle scarves with Candi, use a diablo with Dude and bounce a yo-yo with Bud. His favourite activities were walking on 'stilts' with Sprout and spinning plates with Mimi (mainly because he could do both of these easily).
The most amazing thing to me was how patient The Skyline Gang were with him, and how genuinely attentive. They were very tolerant of the three year old child who'd sneaked into a session intended for children over five, and they really helped him to complete the tasks.
It is little wonder that these are the former Redcoats who often progress onto the West End stage having been spotted by talent scouts; the way that they constantly stay in character and bounce around the stage for thirty minutes astounds me. Well done Butlin's on persevering with a good old-fashioned variety act with added caring and enthusiasm.