Down With Dad: Time out in The Wee Bee

Comely Park pupils chill out in The Wee Bee cabin. Pic: Michael Gillen.
Comely Park pupils chill out in The Wee Bee cabin. Pic: Michael Gillen.

Christmas excitement is reaching fever pitch. Rory forced me to put the decorations up two weeks ahead of what would have been considered acceptable when I was a kid.

Eilidh is very aware of what’s going on this year and is rarely seen without a Santa hat or reindeer antlers on her head.

I thought I would share a personal experience from earlier in the year that has all the hallmarks of a great Christmas story – gifts, generosity, community spirit and a manger (sort of, but actually a shed).

In March, Eilidh was gifted £1000 by a mystery benefactor. It came with only one condition – the money had to be spent on something that Eilidh would directly benefit from. The person wanted no publicity. The donation was to remain anonymous.

With such a generous gesture I figured I had to come up with something pretty amazing (but surely Eilidh would directly benefit from watching Moana on a massive television screen, I argued).

There is not much that Eilidh wants for. She is spoiled rotten by our friends and her mum is an absolute pushover so I thought it would be cool if the money benefited more than just monster girl herself.

The opportunity arose at the same time as we were discussing Eilidh’s transition from nursery to primary school. We had come up with a few ideas when the school thought of a quiet space where Eilidh could escape from the usual chaos of the school environment.

It’s not unusual for kids with developmental delays to have a sensory processing condition. There can be any number of triggers but sometimes getting out of the environment to somewhere safe and quiet is essential.

We agreed on the idea of a sensory cabin that would be a quiet and welcoming place for the kids to use if they needed some down time.

Given I have built a fair amount of Lego in my time and having watched almost every episode of Grand Designs I figured I was well qualified to actually build this thing rather than buy it. And so the challenge was set!

There were times during the summer when I wished I had never started it but I’m very proud of the result. When I hear that Eilidh and lots of other kids are making full use of the cabin it makes it all worthwhile. The Wee Bee, as it has been named, is already very much part of the school fabric.

It’s amazing how people will get behind an idea and I can’t properly put in words how thankful I am for everyone who helped out.

I have to give a special mention to Lee and Yvonne at MGM Timber in Grangemouth, Warren and team at Rosebank Roofing, Tom Muir Construction and Gavin and Allan from Clydesdale Bank.

Without their generosity, materials, advice and patience things could have ended disastrously. In the end I was able to get all the materials and furnish the cabin with loads of great stuff and hardly spend a penny.

It’s like a grotto in there - bean bags, sensory toys, comfy flooring, fancy lights and its very own iPad.

Everyone was ridiculously generous with their time and donations and the kids at school will benefit for years to come.

Sometimes Christmas comes twice a year!

Following the birth of his daughter Eilidh, David has been writing about his family’s experiences in his blog. Read more at www.facebook.com/downwithdad