Two interns, who are part of a South Yorkshire-wide scheme for people with learning disabilities and autism, have got the Christmas season officially underway at Gulliver’s Valley.
Chloe Gadd, 19, and Ben John Hague, 23, both from Rotherham, officially opened the Rotherham theme park resort’s Santa House and Grotto today, ahead of welcoming the public on Saturday 19 November.
The pair are taking part in the ‘DFN Project SEARCH’ internship programme, delivered locally by Rotherham Opportunities College.
The one-year scheme offers young adults with a learning disability, autism, or both, with real-life work experience opportunities, as well as training in employability and independent-living skills, with the aim of helping young people make a successful transition into employment.
Andy Flowers, resort manager at Gulliver’s Valley, said: “What better way to mark the start of Christmas than for two of our Project SEARCH interns to officially open our magical Santa’s House and Grotto.
“We love working with Rotherham Opportunities College to provide supported internships to young people like Chloe and Ben.
“Both will be playing an integral part of our team here this Christmas, meeting and greeting our guests, working in the food outlets and shops, and in the grotto itself, too.
“It’s truly heartwarming to see how both of them are flourishing during their time here and I can’t think of anyone else who would be better suited to getting the festive season underway for us.”
The enchanting Santa’s house and grotto, open from Saturday 19 November, has been built from scratch by the Gulliver’s Valley team and takes visitors on an immersive Christmas adventure through Santa’s home, into the Elf Workshop where children can choose their own gift, before culminating with a meet and greet in a magical grotto with the man himself.
As well as Santa’s House, visitors can also explore a magical Winter Wonderland at the resort and see Gully’s Christmas Show.
Christmas packages are available from Saturday 19 November. Festive Fireworks are scheduled for 23 December and a Santa Send-off on Christmas Eve.
Andy added: “Christmas is set to be full of magic and fun here at Gulliver’s Valley. We can’t wait!”
Gulliver’s Valley Resort has been a host business in the Project SEARCH programme since 2021. Eighty percent of the interns that joined Gulliver's as part of the programme last year ended up in employment at the theme park, with the other 20 percent going on to further training or employment elsewhere.