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Iwerne camps close in wake of Smyth case

29 May 2020

Chris Downer/Creative Commons

An old sign for Iwerne Minster

An old sign for Iwerne Minster

THE Titus Trust is to close its Iwerne summer camps for pupils from large boarding schools, it was announced last week.

Pupils who have attended Iwerne camps in the past will instead be encouraged to attend one of the Trust’s other camps: Lymington Rushmore Holidays, for those from a mixture of boarding and day schools; Gloddaeth Holidays, for those from independent schools in the north of England; and LDN, for those from independent day schools in London.

The Trust, which took over the running of the camps from the disbanded Iwerne Trust, said in a statement last week that it had conducted an “extensive year-long review” of its structure.

“The review, informed by detailed feedback from school teachers and other stakeholders, has paved the way for an agile and more regionally focused approach to organising its popular summer activity holidays,” it said. “As part of the streamlining, the Iwerne & Forres camp [for pupils at preparatory boarding schools] group will close this summer, with responsibility for the associated boarding schools ministry to be shared out across the Trust.”

In an email to supporters of the Trust, the Team Leader, Paul Bolton, wrote: “What has emerged from both teachers, staff and Trustees [during the review] is a growing consensus that the Trust’s work should evolve along more regional lines. . .

“Iwerne & Forres (with their non-geographical focus) will close this summer, and responsibility for the boarding schools ministry divided amongst the three existing camp groups along geographical lines, in consultation with teachers in those schools.”

He continued: “As staff and Trustees, we remain committed to supporting Christian teachers and pupils in their faith and witness in the boarding schools of England and Wales. Every young person currently involved in Iwerne & Forres will be invited with their friends to attend other Titus Trust holidays.”

Last month, the Trust announced that it had agreed a settlement with three men who had suffered what the Trust described as “appalling abuse” by the late John Smyth, a former chairman of the Iwerne Trust (News, 9 April). Although none of the abuse was said to have occurred at the camps, the Iwerne Trust investigated allegations in 1982 of abuse carried out by Smyth away from the camps, but kept its findings secret.

A lessons-learnt review of the Church’s handling of allegations of abuse committed by Smyth has been further delayed by the coronavirus (News, 1 May).

Andrew Graystone, who has campaigned on behalf of survivors of Smyth’s abuse, said: “The Titus Trust has released a statement saying that they will no longer use the name Iwerne for their camps. There is no suggestion in the statement that they have reflected at all on the culture and theology of their movement, or asked themselves why it has enabled so many men to abuse others. They continue to refuse to face up to the past of the movement, or to reach out to men who have been physically, sexually, and spiritually abused within the Iwerne network.”

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