Friends who are deafblind reunite for birthday surprise

A large group of men and women in an ice rink, smiling and laughing

When Terry Gilbert was asked how he wanted to celebrate his 34th birthday, he signed that he wanted to visit his friends in Birmingham, who he had met on previous Sense holidays.

Terry had been on the DBI Outdoor Network trip to Denmark last September, and to the Calvert Trust holiday in Exmoor the year before. As Activities Instructor and Coordinator with Sense, I was lucky enough to be at both these breaks with Terry, and share some fond memories of his many adventures.

An epic journey to meet old friends

A smiling man is given a photo frame by a man who's smiling

These Sense holidays have had a major impact on Terry. He regularly looks at his photos, scrapbooks and film clips from them, as they always inspire fond memories that just make him happy.

So, with the help of his cousin Hannah, Terry made the long journey up from his home in Suffolk, via Essex, and up to Birmingham.

After checking in at their hotel, Terry and Hannah met up with their friends for the evening.

Terry was particularly keen to see his friend Warren again, who he signs with, and with whom he shares the same sense of fun.

An evening of ten pin bowling was followed by a meal at Frankie & Benny’s, accompanied by lots of laughter, and it was clear that Terry was really enjoying his holiday reunion.

Reunited with friends

A man holds a framed photo of himself with a large group of friendsThe following day was spent at Solihull Ice Rink. The regular Thursday accessible ice skating sessions for Sense always attract good numbers of participants, but Terry’s celebratory birthday visit helped attract nearly 50 people from Sense to the rink that day.

It was so good to see so many people from previous Sense Holidays all together again.

Terry had brought cake, gifts and cards were exchanged, and Terry insisted that everyone sign the framed picture he’d been given commemorating his Denmark adventure.

It was a truly joyous occasion that really demonstrated so much of what is great about Sense, and the positive effect it has on so many people’s lives.

Terry was clearly thrilled that so many people had journeyed to meet him on his special day, and his infectious laugh never let up all day!

My thanks to everyone who helped make it a birthday that Terry will never forget!


Read more about Sense Holidays and read about an accessible adventure with the Calvert Trust.

Jon Fearn

Author: Jon Fearn

Jon is the activities instructor & co-ordinator for Sense

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