Autism holiday retreat in the running for £250k prize from Sir Richard Branson

Maggie Sullivan SUS-150519-124627001
Maggie Sullivan SUS-150519-124627001

A Hastings holiday retreat for people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome will pitch its business ideas to Sir Richard Branson in a bid to win a marketing campaign.

The Sanctuary Retreat is owned by Maggie Sullivan, who is a carer of two children with Asperger’s Syndrome and is a late identified adult herself with autistic traits.

The holiday let business was originally established in the late 1940s by her grandparents but fell into decline following a fire at the property and her grandfather’s stroke.

Ms Sullivan is now using her own experiences as a carer of those with autism in a bid to revive and re-establish the business and hopes to win the backing of Virgin Media to take the company to the next level.

The Sanctuary Retreat is one of few local entrants into the ‘Pitch to Rich’ competition in the Business Growth category, where first prize is a £250,000 marketing campaign.

Ms Sullivan said: ‘I’m passionate about keeping rural industry alive and The Sanctuary Retreat has been instrumental to that in the past. I believe those with learning difficulties and Autism have a lot to offer the economy, with their unique skills, perseverance and their ability to think outside the box.

“The growth of our business will not only accelerate our ability to provide a much-needed service to regular holidaymakers and those with special needs in a rural area, but will also offer employment to others on the Spectrum, who have a great deal to offer local businesses.

“If we are successful, it will be a huge boost for the business and for those with Autism. My hope is that it will inspire others with hidden disabilities, to consider following their dream and consider becoming an entrepreneur.”

To view The Sanctuary Retreat’s story and vote for its business growth idea, view their video ‘Pitch to Rich’ online, at www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitch-to-rich/grow/the-sanctuary-retreat. Voting closes at 5pm on Wednesday, May 20.

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