The 2022 York Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge

On what was one of the hottest days of the year so far, Ellen & Lucy from our activities and events team, set up our bright orange gazebo in a prime spot on Dame Judi Dench Walk, ready for the start of the annual Dragon Boat Race.

Dragon Boat Racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and with its appeal to community fundraising groups, and its visually exciting events, it’s clear to see why.  A Dragon Boat crew is made up of 16 paddlers, paced by a drummer at the bow and guided by a helmsman at the stern, who combine power and rhythm to achieve maximum acceleration and speed over a 250 metre course on the iconic River Ouse.

Now in its 20th year, York Rotary’s challenge event pitches companies and organisations against each other in a fun and exciting race, whilst highlighting and raising money for their chosen charity and York Rotary’s local, chosen charities.  It’s a great opportunity too for these charities to set up a stall with information, friendly conversation and maybe a tempting treat or two!  With race heats running from 10am – 3.30pm and the grand final at 4pm the event usually attracts local families and tourists in their thousands, and last weekend’s race didn’t disappoint.

With a group of friendly and enthusiastic volunteers on hand to help, we provided a wealth of information about the charity and our services to passers-by and race goers, and sold plenty of our Yorkshire Day raffle tickets, to raise money for Club Wilber.  We were also there to support our friends and sponsors at YO1 Radio who were racing as team ‘Rule the Waves’, raising money for us as their chosen charity.

YO1 Dragon Boat Race team on the water

With three teams racing in each heat, and three sections of heats, it was a packed race card, and the eventual winners, Tadcaster Trojans, were clear contenders from the start.  As Ellen pointed out, “the crew with the drummer that kept a strong beat, and the team shouted in time with them, performed the best”. 0 YO1 smashed their first heat, but unlike many of the other teams, didn’t perform as well in their second run out.  But in their third and final heat they were the clear winners again.

After all of the races were done, the fastest six times were taken, and the six best teams were called for the Grand Final.  It was no surprise when Tadcaster Trojans won overall, and additional trophies were given for The Best Dressed Team and Armed Forces Team, amongst others.

The glorious sunshine, the bunting and the yummy treats from ‘The Full Moo’ ice cream boat helped create a wonderful gala atmosphere and we had a great time meeting existing supporters of the trust, and new faces who wanted to know a bit more about us.  We love attending events like this and getting out there in the community and if we can raise awareness and much needed funds at the same time then it’s even better.

Thank you to all of those that stopped by to say hello or buy a raffle ticket and a BIG thank you to YO1 Radio who took to the water and proudly flew the flag for us and raised much need funds in doing so!

InSight Magazine – Q3 2022 Edition

Our latest edition of InSight is out now.

This edition includes:


InSight Q3 2022 Cover

Click here or the image above to read the latest edition of our InSight Magazine or click the links below to hear it recorded in an audio format:

  1. CEO’s Letter
  2. Wilberforce House – Staff Perspective
  3. Club Wilber Pizza Party
  4. Living & Learning Zone
  5. Volunteering
  6. Fundraising & Sponsorship
  7. YorSensory – Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much
  8. York Talking News Advertisement
Meet Nicoleta – Community Support Worker

Hi!  I am Nicoleta, I am 30 and I started working for Wilberforce Trust in the first day of lockdown as relief staff 2 years ago.  I joined the trust at a challenging time, but somehow it fit my personality and pushed me to think out of the box.  I am also a mum and last year I was a student and I was very grateful to be able to continue to do a job I enjoy and follow my educational and parenting goals.  The trust facilitated flexible working patterns and the support workers team and the managers were always understanding if my son was poorly and during exams time.

Last year I heard about the community shifts and I put myself forwards for it, I thought it might be a good learning experience and I was right.  I continue to enjoy driving around York to support the service users and be part of their care.  It was a peep in the life of community nurses and into the standard of care the NHS workers are required to have, but what I enjoy the most is the interaction with people and how this service is one more step into enabling people to continue living in their houses.  It is rewarding to see both familiar and new faces and have a little chat and make sure the service users are receiving their medication on time.

In the last few months, I also took the opportunity to offer 1:1 support in the community one day a week.  It continues to be a wonderful experience and I always look forwards to see where are we going to travel in that day.

I was new to York when I started to work for the Wilberforce Trust, but while supporting the service users both in the supported living and community I had the chance to learn more about York and its surroundings and get to know it as well as I know my hometown.  Now lots of places I know carry the mark of a unique memory from when I was supporting others and was helping make the time pass meaningfully for them.


Nicoleta is a relief Support Worker across the houses and also relief Community Support Worker (what Kaitlin does) across both the NHS community support work we provide and also interim Community One-to-One for the Wilberforce House tenants.


Are you interested in joining the trust?  Take a look at out current job vacancies here or have a look into volunteering here.

Support Worker in Profile – Meet Peter

Hi Peter! Please introduce yourself, what makes you tick and what are your passions?

I really enjoy doing magic tricks, which I do for the tenants at each of the services I have worked at and they love it.  Years did a special show at No 4 Tadcaster, I’m not a professional but I do it part time and love to share it with others.

I’m an outgoing person and I love to interact with the tenants at work.

What do you enjoy out of work?

As I’ve already mentioned I love magic, I also love astronomy and the history of York.  When the Big York Dig was on Time Team I went down to have a look.  I was a member of York district metal detecting club for some time, I had some excellent finds including a silver Viking ring in 2002 which was covered in the York press and some Roman earrings that are now held in Hull museum.  Anything that’s over 300 years old had to be declared as treasure and go to a coroner.

What made you want to work for Wilberforce Trust?

Well I’ve been at the trust for 11 years now.  I’ve been in care for over 20 years, working at Tesco as a customer service manager before that.  I live in Tadcaster and saw an opening at the Trust online, I knew people who were working there already and was offered a position.  It’s a great place to work and I love working with other staff and the tenants, and I’m looking forward to the new Wilberforce House opening up.

What made you want to be a support worker?

I always wanted to go into care, I enjoy helping people, doing the courses and the sleep overs.  I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to make a career out of it.

What do you like most about your work?

I really like interacting with the tenants and doing things that make them happy.  Taking one of the tenants to the Yorkshire museum on a Friday has been a recent highlight, he’s wanted to go for a while now so I wanted to take him.  I love how we become like family to the tenants.  I’ve been on holidays with tenants before, tp Northumberland and to Holy Island, it’s lovely to enable the tenants to do what they want.  I love working for the Trust, they’ve been good to me over the years.  The management are good and it really showed over Covid how they supported the support workers and made us feel wanted and welcome.


Are you inspired?  Would you like to make a difference whilst you work?  If so consider becoming a support worker yourself, apply here.

Club Wilber Sponsors’ Music Networking Event

Before January the world of business or networking was alien to me, and I’ll admit I probably misunderstood it.  I remember Samantha asking me whether it was my thing; as a self-confessed introvert networking events, events of any kind leave me feeling anxious, vulnerable and somewhat like an imposter.  I quickly learned that there was nothing to worry about, there is no rulebook for networking events, they don’t need to happen in a certain way.  That’s why Club Wilber’s latest event intrigued me and many of the other attendees.  Awaken your senses promised to take us on a musical journey but for me it delivered so much more.

As sponsors and business representatives arrived they took a moment to take in their surroundings; the beautiful  Grade 1 listed Church of St Margaret has been converted, extended and transformed into the National Centre for Early Music.  The blinds half drawn, the flickering of the large candles, the acoustics and tone of the music echoing in the magical space spurred my senses before the event had even started.  The grand building set the intimate yet inviting scene for the day.

As we took our seats at our respective tables and met with members of our team for the day we prepared ourselves for a speech from Operations Director Samantha Scholey-Dyson.  Her recent personal experiences guided a passionate, emotive speech in which her dedication to Club Wilber and people with a visual impairment shone through.  Her reflection of the role of music in her life had already initiated discussion on my table about the event being more than just a music quiz.  It’s a well-known fact that music can lift our spirits; science has now shown it has a physical effect on our bodies, too.  As we listen, music works on the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling our blood pressure and heartbeat. It also works on the limbic system, which is responsible for feelings and emotions.  By connecting us at a deeper level with each other; collectively synchronising our heart beats or brain waves, Music is a great tool for enhancing collaboration.  As Samantha spoke it was clear why music was the chosen theme, as we listen to music, our brains are activated, it changes our brain chemistry and listening to music we enjoy stimulates the release of dopamine just as listening to chilled out, calm, soothing quieter music can help to alleviate anxiety.

After my tables diabolical performance in the music quiz, we were asked to apply our eye masks.  In partnership with Dale Bartleson of YO1 radio, Samantha took us on a journey through many genres, asking us to explore music and how different genres made us feel.  What song makes you want to dance like no-one is watching?  What song instantly makes you sad?  What is your favourite song?  Now, I admit I am a huge fan of music across many genres and generations but my initial thought when posed with these questions was how much attention am I paying to the music that often surrounds me?  There are certain songs, certain artists and definitely certain lyrics I can remember but I couldn’t seem to put pen to paper when it came to answering these questions.  It led me to thinking about how we take music for granted, distracted by the feedback from all our other senses.

Acapella: defined as ‘music performed without instrumental accompaniment’ was pitched up against instrumental ‘music performed on instruments without vocals’.  To explore the differences might be obvious but both genres spurred really emotion within me.  The atmosphere in the room was a perfect platform to encourage me to focus on and listen to the lyrics in the acapella songs, conversely to allow my imagination to build lyrics or pictures during the instrumental.  Some people would argue that vocal music can tell stories but how invigorating it was to create my own story during the instrumental; not the point that I was imagining Russell Crowe in Gladiator!

Wilber the Mole at the Club Wilber Sponsor Music Networking Event

Its hard to define what motivational music sounds like; the songs played under this context led me to wonder ‘What music motivates me?’, I concluded that its all about perspective, the lyrics in these songs because the atmosphere created prompted us to focus more on the music.  Much like the reflective songs, led me to think about how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day strains life, while we’re so busy we forget how important reflection is.  I learned that reflective songs to me, are those that stop you in your tracks and spur your mind into reminiscence and imagination.

Next up was happy vs sad, self-explanatory you’d think but the story of my sad song often amazes people.  Jackie Wilson’s ‘Reet Petite’ has always been one of those songs everybody likes to get up and dance to, but it will always be the song that was played at my best friends funeral. What I loved the most about this event was how these discussions came around our table, we all agreed that during the happy songs we wanted to get up and dance, feeling or visualising clapping or swaying, dancing along to the music.  When my team discussed this stage of the journey they began to ask themselves, and me how people without sight are able to collect the type of visual experiences we were enjoying?

Dance music, Ultrabeat especially took me and likely many others straight back to Ibiza, remembering long nights with sore feet making memories.  New Age music is intended to create inspiration and optimism.  Often used in mindfulness, meditation and yoga it showcases music as a spiritual experience and much like instrumental music I found myself creating my own story.  Being driven to listen to music without lyrics was one of the most enlightening experiences of my day, the magic of healing music is the perfect form of stress relief.

As if we hadn’t been on a musical rollercoaster the last songs were sad love (the heartbreak kind) vs happy love (I need you kind).  By the end of these songs I was left thinking ‘How many emotions can music make you feel?’  The sad songs acted as a stabiliser, prompting reflection and nostalgia but also thankfulness for the memories behind the emotional response.  Much in the same way the happy ones prompting gratefulness for everything I have today.


I wanted to write my experiences of this event; every day since I have listened to music differently.  I have immersed myself in it rather than be distracted by it.  Alan Cowen once said ‘Music is a universal language, but we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood.’  This quote is my big takeaway from my musical journey.  Music on the whole can be a reaction to experiences but for people with sensory impairments it can be so much more, and I can see why Samantha chose music as a theme.  Next time you’re listening to music why don’t you don an eye mask and see how different it makes you feel?

I would like to pass on my thanks to Samantha and Dale especially, also Owen Turner, Rey & Cara of United By Design, Michelle Mook of Pro-Development, Samantha Walton of Acomb Travel, Louise Saw of City of York Council, Tom Jackson of Jackson Photography for a thought provoking, inspiring afternoon that managed to raise awareness of the brilliant work of Club Wilber and the Wilberforce Trust. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and can’t wait for the next one!

Lauren Holmes Sensory Business Manager


Would you like to sponsor the amazing work that Club Wilber does and join our unique networking events?  Take a look at our ‘Sponsor Club Wilber‘ page.

Club Wilber – Easter Egg Hunt 2022

Our Club Wilber Easter Egg hunt returned this year after the hiatus imposed by COVID19 restrictions.

The field was decorated with numerous egg hunting inspired decorations including hampers, baskets, signs, wind spinners, flowers, chicks, even a tipi and lots and lots of hay.

We hid the beeping eggs amongst the decorations, along with lots of chocolate treats and sweets ready for the children to find using their hearing.

The sun was shining, the decorations were in position, the eggs were hidden and then the Club Wilber families arrived, excited, happy and ready for a wonderful activity.

Each child put on some bunny ears and set off with basket in hand listening out for the beep of the eggs.  As always siblings could take part by wearing blindfolds.  Families were able to lay out their picnic blankets and join together for some Easter themed refreshments and enjoy time chatting and supporting one another.

After filling their baskets the children returned to exchange beeping eggs for chocolate Easter eggs to take home along with the treats they had found along the way.

We had some fabulous feedback from the families:

“It was definitely engaging. My child quickly got to grips with everything and it kept his interest for a good amount of time.  He loved the buzzing eggs”

“The atmosphere was great and you’ve managed to get such a lovely weather!  My child liked that there were eggs of different sizes – made it more interesting”

“Brought all the families together, lots of choc, you ordered the weather”

“Thank you for a fabulous egg hunt today, we loved it!!  And thank you for being thoughtful as always …”

“Thank you for today, kids loved it”

“Thank you for the lovely time today!  It was really eggciting!”

We couldn’t have run this event without the support of our volunteers who kindly donated their time on the day to setting up and running the event with us and for that we would like to say a HUGE thank you.

We also want to say a HUGE thank you to the following companies that donated to help us run this amazing event:

We will be back again next year with the Easter Egg hunt and look forward to seeing this event grow.

We also have a whole programme of different activities for Club Wilber so if you have, or know of a child 0-25 who has a visual impairment please get in touch at [email protected].

Similarly if you would like to help us run more activities by joining as a volunteer, then please do get in touch at [email protected] as we would love to welcome you to our work family.

Support Worker in Profile – Meet Shaun

Hi Shaun! Please introduce yourself, what makes you tick and what are your passions?

Hello, I’m Shaun.  I’ve been in York since 1991 when I came to the city to study ‘Theatre, Film & Television’ at York St John University.  When I arrived in York I started volunteering, mainly in community arts with people unrepresented in media and film.  Before that I started in play group volunteering.

I did a placement at Old Dairy Studios, running workshops and helping people make promotional videos.  I supported a lot of unrepresented people and people with disabilities.  I also ran creative sound and video workshops and worked with schools.

Before I came to York I was a sales manager and before that I started out life as a trainee engineer (semi-skilled milling machinist).

What do you enjoy out of work?

I used to put on music festivals, I did 23 years of the green festival!  I still enjoy listening to music, mainly experimental classics, Frank Zappa, Jazz.  I enjoy walking, reading, photography and image manipulation.  I also enjoy painting and I really like people.
Shaun Bradley with Daniel

What made you want to work for Wilberforce Trust?

The arts game was seriously underfunded and I needed to make a living, so I decided to step aside and do something a bit different.  Being disabled myself (I had polio at 18 months old which got into secondary stages) I have quite a conviction about giving access to people with disabilities that are usually underfunded.  I had worked with people from the Wilberforce Trust on various other projects and I had met tenants of the trust through my volunteering.  I liked the history of the trust and what it works to achieve so I decided it would be a good place to work.

What made you want to be a support worker?

I like to help people achieve their goals.  Before I started I had never had any formal training but I did support people when I ran workshops.  When I started at the trust they gave me second to none training which was wonderful.

What do you like most about your work?

Well, loads of aspects.  I have a certain outlook on disability and what decent support actually means to someone who can’t really compete with someone abled bodied and they don’t get access to certain support to achieve what they want to.  It’s wonderful to help people achieve their goals.  I get to do the kind of things I did on voluntary basis, dear to my heart and to get paid for it.  It’s fantastic to get paid for what I would do for free.  The trust recognises that the old model provision has had its day and that things have changed and the trust has embraced the changes, that’s refreshing.  I’m also excited about the new build and what we look to achieve there.  It’s really refreshing to have conversations with the CEO Philippa about the direction of the trust.


Are you inspired?  Would you like to make a difference whilst you work?  If so consider becoming a support worker yourself, apply here.

Meet Club Wilber’s Latest Sponsor – 360 Chartered Accountants

360 Chartered Accountants couldn’t be more different to the image of a typical, ‘boring’ accountancy firm.  Their success lies in a willingness to remain agile as a practice in an ever-changing financial and business climate.  They are 21st century accountants embracing modern technology to give their clients every advantage. Innovative and forward thinking, they have invested in IT and modern technology to simplify and speed up accountancy processes, so that clients can view real-time accounts in a secure cloud environment at any time of the day or night, which in turn allows them to make better, more informed decisions based on up-to-the minute figures.

The award-winning firm has a developing portfolio of clients in and around York and has recently opened an office at Blake House in the heart of the city.

Managing Director, Adrian Hunter said:

“There is a fantastic and continually growing business economy here and we know that our services are a perfect fit for so many business owners who have been hit hard over the last couple of years.  We worked throughout the pandemic, offering advice and support to anyone who needed it, clients, and non-clients.  We guided them through the various government grant systems and helped our clients claim nearly £10 million in furlough payments across all sectors.  There’s also been some great innovation and we have helped businesses adapt to the changing climate.  We understand what people have been through and are still going through and we can’t wait to start sharing our knowledge and expertise with even more businesses across York.”

Regarding Club Wilber, Adrian added:

“We are thrilled to be working with Samantha and the team at Club Wilber and are looking forward to assisting this amazing charity in any way we can.  It is plain for all to see how much the team at Club Wilber enhance the lives of children throughout York and the surrounding areas and we are excited about the future journey with them.”

For more information about 360 Chartered Accountants, please contact [email protected] or call 01904 217360.

InSight Magazine – Q2 2022 Edition

Our latest edition of InSight is out now.

This edition includes:


Click here or the image above to read the latest edition of our InSight Magazine.

Meet The Yorkshire Corker Founder, Scott Caul

We had a chat with Scott to learn about him and his fantastic creation, The Yorkshire Corker.

Tell us about yourself?
Well, I’m from Warrington originally and I came to York to study Physiotherapy, fell in love with the City and never left. I work as a Physiotherapist for York Hospital where I work intensive care and non-invasive ventilation. I’m a family man and as you’ve probably guessed I love to cycle!

So, what made you start? What gave you the idea to do the Yorkshire Corker?
I’ve been raising money for charity for a long time, before cycling it was running and triathlons. It all began with the London marathon when I was 18. I’ve also done an Iron Man and last August I cycled on a big, horrible steel 1950’s tandem bike from Land’s End to John o’ Groats with an empty seat representing those lost to Covid. I raised £5k for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospital, having been working on the front lines during the pandemic that meant a lot to me.

In terms of what made me start the Yorkshire Corker, well I love cycling and I wanted to get more people involved. I like people coming together and taking up things and there is nothing like being out in the countryside. York is wonderful for it, you can quickly be in the countryside, and you would be forgiven for thinking you’re in France, well in the summer perhaps.

Cycling is great for physical and mental health and I wanted to encourage this and get people to dig out their bikes.
Our aim from the start has been to RAISE, RIDE & INSPIRE:

You know there is nothing better than someone completing their first ever sportive and seeing the look on their face and that their families are proud of them.

Who is it for?
People of all ages and abilities – kids, people with disabilities, teens and adults. Last year a chap in his 80’s or 90’s participated and we have a regular e-biker. The 30-mile route is flat and safe for people with spinal injuries.

Who benefits this year?
This year funds will go to Wilberforce Trust, Spinal Injuries Association and York & Scarborough Teaching Hospital.

How long has the Yorkshire Corker been running now?
We started in 2017 so that’s 5 years now. The first event had about 35 riders and last year we were up to 150.

How has it changed over the years?
It’s just been getting bigger and better every year. It started off very amateur, we had manual timing (using a stop watch) and make shift stools etc. We’re still all volunteer run but we’re much more professional, it’s more of an event, we have more participants and we’re making more money for great causes.

2 years ago we started the free adapted balance bike fun for kids and those with a disability. Everybody’s Cycling provide the different ability bikes (hand-held, tricycle, fun bikes, disabled and peddle assisted bikes) and GoGet Riding provide the balance bikes.

Where do you see it going?
I want it to keep getting bigger and better every year. The goal I’ve set myself is to become the biggest sportive in Yorkshire within 10 years. In addition to the monies we raise for other causes we keep reinvesting to grow the event year on year. Ultimately our aim will remain the same, to RAISE, RIDE & INSPIRE.

Where did the idea of the drink measures come from?
I don’t know actually, I just thought it was a bit of fun.

What’s included?
You get a lot for your money! We’re a properly organised bike ride (it’s not a race but more about enjoyment) and we are governed by British Cycling, we follow their rules and stipulations, so we have all the appropriate signs and risk assessments. There’s medical support, full nutrition (food at all rest stops – sandwiches, crisps, fruit, chocolate, cakes, a variety of drinks including isotonic drinks and a free tea or coffee), chip timing, mechanical support (support vehicle on each of the rides – if you’re having problems with your bike you can try to have is fixed or chuck it on the van). There may be a t-shirt too but we’re not sure yet whether it will be this or something else as our regulars have accumulated quite a few!


For more details about the Yorkshire Corker 2022 and for details how to book tickets click here.