We have held an Easter Egg hunt at the Castle in aid of Naomi House & Jacksplace hospice for some 12 years now. Naomi House offers a palliative care service whether for respite, for emergencies or for end of life care for children and young adults. It is wholly funded by donations, has amazing staff and volunteers and is the most wonderful charity for families in unbearable situations.
The idea for the day came to me after I visited the Hospice. I wanted to stage an event that would bring happiness and new supporters, as well as money, for the hospice. Hundreds, if not thousands, of children go on a treasure hunt through the grounds and gardens of the Castle looking for bunnies and other clues. I haven’t always got it right: in the early years I made one route far too short so that everyone was finished in 20 minutes; the following year, in compensation for my previous error, it was far too long and the weather was dreadful. Woebegone adventurers returned, bedraggled and somewhat unenthusiastic. Another year I forgot to protect the flower beds, so the gardeners were equally unimpressed and yet another year I ran out of Easter Eggs…..every child wins an egg at the end (there are masses this year). Finally I hope I have now got it just right.
Hares, bunnies and eggs have long been associated with Easter Sunday and the Resurrection, and so we use them in our hunt to support what is primarily a Church festival.
We have distributed leaflets to local schools and pray for no rain. We have merry-go-rounds, characters from Frozen, stalls selling all sorts of things and a bouncy castle outside the Castle. The Castle chefs bake hundreds and hundreds of scones. In the afternoon the Naomi House organisers and I judge the Easter bonnets parade. This is the trickiest thing to do because, whilst adults put a brave face on things when they don’t win, children don’t. Occasionally we have tears which always make me feel terrible. Overall however, it is always a very happy day for both our visitors and the Castle staff.