Following in mum's ever-loving footsteps
Helen Lanzetta was never short of friends to play with as a child when she lived at the Leicester Children's Holiday Centre, in Mablethorpe, with her parents who ran it.
In fact, she loved it so much that she took over the running of the centre when her mum, Maude, stepped aside and has been the centre manager since the late 1980s.
Helen said: "I moved to the centre as a child with my parents in 1969. I used to love it, I always had friends to play with."
The Mercury's Christmas Appeal aims to raise £65,000 for the centre, which gives seaside holidays to hundreds of children who would not otherwise get a break.
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It needs the money to revamp its boiler and central heating system.
Helen said: "In the early years the first children would come for a month in April. They were children who hadn't been well or were under-nourished and then the rest would come for two weeks at a time in the summer.
"As I grew up I worked there while I was still at school until I took over.
"Over the years I have worked with thousands of the kids who come here. My mum was very fond of all the children who came here, they were her life. She cared deeply about the children, as I do. It wasn't a difficult transition from playing with them to looking after them. I understood what the children wanted.
"I had experienced that kind of holiday and the sort of things they like to do. I was able to look at things through their eyes when they came to the centre for the first time.
"You see their little faces when they arrive and the sadness when it's time to go home."
History is repeating itself with Helen's 12-year-old son, Luciano, playing with the youngsters who visit the home – just as she did.
She said: "My son plays with today's children, he keeps in touch with them and they sometimes pop into see him if they're on holiday here. He's always sad at the end of the season and can't wait for the next season to come along. The children who have stayed here will always have memories of those they met at Mablethorpe, they will remember them forever and the fun times they had here.
"We often get people drop by and tell us they were at the centre as kids.
"I remember meeting one lady who stayed here saying it was the only happy moment of her childhood which stayed in her heart at all times. I thought that was so sad. What I do is so rewarding.
"Where else can you get up in the morning knowing you're going to work and want to be there?"