PUBLISHED: 15:42 13 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:13 30 August 2017



CHICKS which provides holidays to disadvantaged children and has actress and Cornish resident Jenny Agutter as their patron

It’s hard to remember a Christmas that didn’t star Jenny Agutter in some form – from the reshowing of the much-beloved classic The Railway Children – to specials of her hugely popular BBC series, Call the Midwife.

Jenny is a regular to Cornwall, having her own home here - she’s often to be seen in and around Cadgwith, where Jenny, husband Johan Tham and their son Jonathan live.

In her role as Sister Julienne’ in Call the Midwife, Jenny plays the kindly clever nun in the series based in a poverty-stricken East End of London. And in her own time she is supports slightly older children as patron of children’s charity CHICKS, which provides free respite breaks for disadvantaged children from across the UK.

Childhood is such an important time – it’s precious. At CHICKS, they can be children again, and not only for one week, but time and again as they can return year after year.’

We caught up with her when she spent the morning at the charity’s Moorland Retreat in Brentor where she chatted to staff and spent time with children from CHICKS and the local area, playing football and bouncing on trampolines.

Being here has given me a sense of what it must be like for a child coming to CHICKS and how exciting it must be for them,’ she says. On my way here I saw long horn cattle outside and I actually shrieked with delight. It must be wonderful for the children coming to a place like this.

I have so many wonderful memories of childhood holidays. Growing up, we spent a lot of time doing things together as a family. We went abroad to beautiful places like Cyprus and went on camping trips.

It’s incredible how many children in this country don’t have a break or a holiday. They can come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, broken homes and care and just don’t have the opportunity to enjoy being children.’

Since its inception in 1992, CHICKS has provided more than 12,000 disadvantaged children with a much needed respite break. Each year it relies on hundreds of volunteers to make the breaks possible and is funded solely by voluntary donations.

Childhood is such an important time – it’s precious,’ continues Jenny. At CHICKS, they can be children again, and not only for one week, but time and again as they can return year after year.’

As patron, her role helps to raise awareness and funds for their vital work. While there, Jenny attended a special screening of her spy thriller film, The Riddle of the Sands, in aid of CHICKS. It was the first time she had seen the film in 15 years.

It sparked a lot of memories that I thought were lost,’ she admits. Seeing the film again reminded me of all the beautiful places we went to and how much fun we had filming…the film was beautifully shot and after all this time, it still didn’t feel dated which was great.’

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