The trip will enable 10 club members to participate in a range of outdoor adventure activities and experience another country and culture
In a few days, the UK will be celebrating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee with an extended bank holiday weekend.
And for 10 young people from West London, an even bigger treat is in store, as the Leus Family Foundation has provided funding for The Harrow Club to take some of its attendees for a fun-filled trip to Cyprus.
The trip to Cyprus will take place in early June, with 10 youngsters and four Harrow Club staff members flying to Cyprus, to participate in a special programme that includes windsurfing, canoe lessons, snorkelling, a jeep safari and a visit to Ayia Napa Waterworld water park.
All flights, meals and accommodation will be provided by the Leus Family Foundation.
The Harrow Club has been working with the local community since 1883, and aims to address needs amongst young people related to disadvantage and poverty. The club’s activities range from sports clubs to drama and dance.
Its network of clubs includes Harrow, Chelsea, Old Oak, Sands End, White City and Lancaster Road, and welcomes children and young people between the ages of eight and 21 years old, of whom 80 per cent are eligible for free school meals, 90 per cent are from ethnic minority backgrounds and 20 per cent have been diagnosed with learning difficulties or disability issues.
The Leus Family Foundation has previously supported The Harrow Club with the donation of a minibus and is also working to bring fencing lessons to the club.
Speaking about the Cyprus trip, Dmitry Leus, founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “We are so pleased to be able to assist The Harrow Club in offering this adventure trip to these 10 terrific young people.
“It is part of our foundation’s current strategy to do all we can to provide opportunity to the most vulnerable children who have suffered more than most during the pandemic.
“The purpose of this trip is for these young people to experience a different country, some of them for the first time, and especially be exposed to outdoor and sporting activities they might not otherwise get to try. And honestly, we also really want them to have some fun!”
Michael Defoe, CEO of The Harrow Club, spoke about what the impact of the Cyprus trip will be for the young people attending: “We are grateful to the Leus Family Foundation for their support in making this trip happen.
“This will be a very important experience for our young people, from the minute they board the plane, to having the opportunity to experience water-based sporting activities, as well as the chance to see another country and culture.
“For the majority of the group, this will be the first time they have left the UK.”
The Leus Family Foundation booked exclusive use of the venue for the Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club
Children from Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club, also known as Bright Lights, enjoyed exclusive use of Jump Giants trampoline park this month, thanks to additional funding from the Leus Family Foundationto enable the club members to enjoy trampolining in a safe environment.
Bright Lights club is for children aged 5-13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas.
The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs and moderate to severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care.
Established in 1996, children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the Bright Lights every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The Leus Family Foundation is a long term supporter of Bright Lights and offered extra funding so that members could have exclusive use of the Jump Giants facilities.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the positive impact the trampoline experience had on members. She said: “We are so grateful to the Leus Family Foundation for funding the trip to Jump Giants.
“The children absolutely loved it and so did their families. It was even more enjoyable for them to have Jump Giants to themselves. It was so lovely to see them all really happy and having so much fun.
“Photographing the fun was a struggle as the children did not keep still for more than one second!”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “Our Foundation was delighted to support Bright Lights in this way.
“I believe the pandemic has been extra tough for kids with special needs and their families, as they have felt the isolation and restriction on activities more acutely.
“It was simply wonderful to think of the Bright Lights club members bouncing on the trampolines and enjoying such a light-hearted experience in a safe environment. The happy faces in the photos say it all.
“We look forward to supporting Bright Lights throughout the year, as they do a fantastic job bringing support, learning and fun to those who really need it.”
Bright Lights provides a weekly programme for children who might have difficulty accessing other facilities within the local borough.
The base at Egham Orbit Leisure Centre enables the use of the soft play area, arts and crafts activities, books and toys from its toy library.
Bright Lights occasionally hold family and friends evenings when parents and carers can meet and discuss family matters.
The youth club is known for providing a vibrant programme that includes the use of the soft play area, crafts and outings. The children have enjoyed trips to places like the Isle of Wight, Disneyland Paris, Spain, Lapland UK, Paultons Park, Beale Park, and Legoland.
The Runnymede club welcomes children aged five to 13 with a range of learning and physical disabilities
Bright Lights Youth Club in Runnymede has received further support from the Leus Family Foundation, with the latest grant including toys and equipment for the club, as well as funding for two special outings for the children who attend the club.
The club, established in 1996, is for children aged five to 13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas. The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs, and moderate-to-severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care. Children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The grant from the Leus Family Foundation means that the children can now enjoy additional toys and equipment, including sensory light equipment, special chairs, mats, computers and books.
The grant will also fund a private trip in January 2022 to a trampoline park where the children will have exclusive use of the venue. In the Spring of 2022, club attendees will also benefit from a trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park for the children and staff, with the Leus Family Foundation covering entry and transport costs.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the importance of the support from the Leus Family Foundation. She said: “We are delighted to receive this continued support from the Leus Family Foundation.
“The additional toys and equipment will add extra fun and stimulation to the time that our members spend with us each week.
“The privatisation of the trampoline park will open up this fun experience in a safe way for our members and we know Drayton Manor will also be an exciting highlight of the year for them.”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “We are so pleased to boost the club’s range of toys and equipment so that children attending get the maximum enjoyment out of their time at the club.
“It is especially meaningful for us to be able to provide the two outings, knowing how much pleasure the children will get from these fun experiences.”
Dmitry added: “We will be honoured to assist Bright Lights further in the future. Our Foundation admires the energy and commitment of the small team and the significant impact they make to young people who really need this service.”
The Leus Family Foundation is backing a scheme to offer young people in Brixton access to the sport
14:44, 9 NOV 2021
Brixton Recreation Centre might not be the first place you would look to find children fencing. The sport has a reputation in the UK, perhaps unfairly, as being elitist and more likely to be found in fee-paying schools.
Fencing’s “posh” image is not entirely unfounded as it can be an expensive pursuit, from coaching costs to equipment.
Yet many believe it is the ideal sport for building life skills such as strategic thinking and discipline in children and young people.
Christopher Tidmarsh QC and Dmitry Leus are determined to make the sport accessible for all and they began this mission in Brixton.
Christopher Tidmarsh QC is the committee chair of the Brixton Fencing Club, as well as a barrister with a wide-ranging Chancery practice focused on trusts and estates, tax and pension schemes.
Dmitry Leus is the Brixton Fencing Club’s honorary president and patron, as well as the CEO and founder of Imperium Investments and the Founder of the Leus Family Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports the development of children and young people, especially those facing the challenges of poverty, illness or special needs.
Together, the two men are the driving force behind a scheme to bring free fencing lessons to children from local state schools in the Brixton area, funded by the Leus Family Foundation.
As Tidmarsh explains, the initiative goes far beyond the free lessons: “We started by giving demonstrations in local state schools so that local children could see fencing for themselves, often for the very first time.
“To see the sport live can definitely capture the imagination and inspire a young person to want to learn the skills for themselves. Then we invited 7-11 year olds to attend our Junior sessions for free, so that they could learn together with their peers who already fence.”
The scheme is designed so that children can begin free fencing lessons at primary school age, but the aim is to keep them attending long after.
Leus said: “It’s crucial that children get exposed to training young, but it’s also essential that they keep training in those all-important teenage years.
“Once they join us, if they demonstrate the commitment, we will keep supporting them in the secondary school years. We want them to be absorbed organically into the club and know that they will gain access to coaching and equipment without charge.”
“There is another strong motivation for us,” said Leus. “We see the power of fencing to divert a child away from getting into trouble on the street.
“When a child is training with our coaches and feeling good about the skills they are building, then they are not so vulnerable to gang membership or experimenting with drugs.
“Fencing is an ideal sport to captivate young minds and build their confidence in a positive way. Yes, you need some aggression to win.
“But you have to be in control when you are fencing and also respect your opponent. We are delighted to draw youngsters into the rigour and training of fencing, especially when we know they are perhaps disadvantaged and need such direction and passion in their lives.”
Leus is himself a former European fencing champion. Can he spot the same talent amongst the young fencers in Brixton? Could Brixton produce a world champion?
He said: “Why not! We absolutely see natural talent amongst the children. That is why Chris and I also talk so much about the teenage years.
“The UK compares reasonable well in terms of nurturing talent at a very young age. But where France and Switzerland excel is in how they develop that talent post 11 years old.
“The UK needs to do more of that, to invest in the young fencers as they get a little older, to support them on to championship level.
“That is where costs kick in, whether it’s reaching the level where you really need to buy your own equipment or have access to the very best coaches. That is an area where my Foundation wants to help further.”
Tidmarsh added: “And it’s not only about the future champions. Fencing offers so much to children. From fitness, agility and hand-eye coordination to strength and discipline.
“The ability to be aggressive and yet control your temper. There are values to be learned in the saluting and shaking of hands – the ceremony that is in some ways similar to martial arts.
“It also opens up the world a bit, allowing children to meet other people at training and competitions – from all walks of life, people they might not otherwise get to meet.
“The truth is that the fencing community – far from being elitist – is open and friendly and there is a lot for children to gain socially too. We want to bring that to local children, even the ones who are not necessarily going to take it to the highest level.”
Leus said: “We have also been pleased to see girls taking up lessons. It’s very important to us that both boys and girls get a chance to gain both the physical and life skills that fencing offers. I can see a huge boost for a child stretching themselves in that controlled combat mode and we really want to see girls gaining from that too.”
Leus agrees that the fencing community is warm and welcoming, something he appreciated when he settled in to the UK with his wife and four children.
“Fencing is life-changing. One has to learn to be calm and controlled,” he said. “Mentally it’s like playing chess. You always have to think about your next steps and your opponent’s next steps. These are skills for life, they transfer beyond sport. That is why we are so eager to bring the fencing to disadvantaged kids, so they can get a boost in their wider lives.”
The foundation’s grant has not only boosted the weekly term-time service but also allowed the club to open during the summer holidays for the first time.
Founder of the Leus Family Foundation, Dmitry Leus recently visited the Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club, also known as Bright Lights, to meet with the children who participate in the club and learn about the positive impact of a grant from the Leus Family Foundation.
The club is for children aged 5-13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas. The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs, and moderate to severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care.
Established in 1996, children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The grant from the Leus Family Foundation meant that the club could also offer its services over the summer holidays for the first time, offering a much-needed activity and opportunity to connect for children and their families over the long summer break.
The club provides a safe environment for children who might have difficulty accessing other facilities within the local borough. The base at Egham Orbit Leisure Centre enables the use of the soft play area, arts and crafts activities, books and toys from a toy library.
Bright Lights occasionally holds family and friends evenings when parents and carers can meet and discuss family matters.
The youth club is known for providing a vibrant programme in addition to its on-site offerings, such as outings. The children have enjoyed trips to places like the Isle of Wight, Disneyland Paris, Spain, Lapland UK, Paultons Park, Beale Park, and Legoland.
The club also holds a Christmas party every year where the children receive a visit and presents from Father Christmas.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the importance of the support from the Leus Family Foundation: “We are here to provide fun and recreation for young people with special needs, which can also play a helpful respite role for their parents and carers.
“The contribution from the Leus Family Foundation is helping us to keep bringing this fun and support to children and their families, both during term time and even, for the first time, over the summer holidays.”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “I was so pleased to visit Bright Lights and see for myself the invaluable work they are doing. It is great to see these fantastic kids engaged and gaining so much from their activities.
“The visit also gave me an insight into what these services mean for the whole family, providing respite, support and connection, which is perhaps needed more than ever after the isolation of the pandemic.”
Dmitry added: “Bright Lights is the perfect example of the kind of organisation our foundation loves to support. They are a small team with a very clear mission, delivering significant impact to young people who really need this service. The results were visible in the room as I could see the children both learning and having fun.”