College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Charity to offer pupils summer breaks

A new charity co-founded by Edinburgh staff is to provide summer breaks for young people with learning disabilities.

The charity – called SuperTroop – aims to offer specialist holidays at a range of locations across Scotland.

Young people participating in water sports

Holiday break

The organisation’s first trip will take place in summer 2018.

Through a partnership with Fettes College, 16 young people will spend a week at the school’s Dalmeny boarding house in July next year.

Student volunteers

SuperTroop will recruit a team of young, enthusiastic volunteers who will work one-to-one with the holiday makers.

Volunteers will be drawn from pupils attending Fettes College.

They will be supported by an experienced group leader and senior team to provide care for the young people on holiday.

Over the next few months SuperTroop will be recruiting volunteers to our senior team, so look out for information coming round about this soon!

Dr Sue Fletcher-WatsonDirector and Support Manager, SuperTroop
SuperTroop logo

Future plans

Although early in development, SuperTroop plans to expand its activities across Scotland.

The charity aims to provide breaks in other locations with specific resources, such as giving young people from urban centres a chance to visit the Scottish Highlands.

It was established by Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson of the University's Patrick Wild Centre, which carries out research into autism, fragile X syndrome and intellectual disabilities.

SuperTroop’s other cofounders include James Boardman and Laura Butterworth of the University’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. 

Although I love my work as an autism researcher, it can be agonising sometimes seeing how far removed our academic focus is from the day-to-day challenges of families. SuperTroop is a chance to use my knowledge and skills to help people right here, right now.

Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson

Thanks to the combined expertise of our volunteer managers, we have a unique opportunity to make a new and valuable contribution to the local Edinburgh & Lothians community in providing specialist holidays for young people who don’t often get a chance to go away without their families.

Max Boyd-BrownChair of the Board, SuperTroop
Young people participating in water sports

A bit more from Dr Fletcher-Watson

Why is the work of SuperTroop so important?

"Having a holiday is more than just a rest. Going away without your family is a key part of becoming independent. It teaches us new things about ourselves and about others, as well as providing new experiences. At the moment, it is incredibly hard for people with learning disabilities to spread their wings in this way. Our scheme provides this chance, as well as giving a much-needed rest to family-members, and developing caring skills and attitudes in our youthful volunteers."

What are your hopes for the future of the charity?

"In the short term, we are focusing all our energies on our first, fabulous holiday in summer 2018 - it's like a 'proof of concept' for the whole endeavour.  If we get that right, and I am confident we will, then over the next 10 years, we hope to massively expand our operations - running holidays hosted by other boarding schools but also taking holiday makers on trips away. We'd like to run breaks for adults as well as young people, and provide tailored experiences for those with very particular needs. Our ultimate goal is that learning disabled people in Scotland have as much opportunity to take a holiday as anyone else."

Relevant links


Patrick Wild Centre