Odyssey was the brainchild of Dr. Howard Smedley, a Canterbury based Oncologist, who had previously used outdoor adventure activities for the purposes of staff development and training. One day, it occurred to him that something similar might benefit many of the people he saw as patients.
Later that very evening Howard, Steve Gough and Charles Lyster got together over a couple of pints in a dark corner of the 'Roseneath' in Gillingham, and after a short brainstorming session, Odyssey was born. Unlike most ideas developed in such circumstances, this one looked even better in the morning! Six months of research and planning followed, and in September 1994, sixteen bold people met for the first ever Odyssey course.
Odyssey draws on the majesty of the outdoor environment, the Arts, the stimulation of uncertainty and surprise to help cancer patients of all ages and backgrounds regain their confidence and zest for life.
The course aims to help participants overcome the emotional and physical devastation caused by the illness by allowing them to move beyond a time of introspection and despair, and regain a sense of control of the next stage of their lives. We believe that access to the course should not be limited by financial considerations so sufficient funds are raised to enable us to offer all places at no cost to the participant.
The Odyssey course in its present form is five days long and currently runs eight times per year. Every effort has been made to provide the richest and most varied experience possible in that time. Odyssey programmes happen near to home, not in some remote wilderness; yet we seek out wild and peaceful places, rich in atmosphere. We aim to astonish even the most imaginative participant and to create such a diverse range of challenges that each person will at some point find themselves in a position of strength and at another time tackling something they find difficult.
The course is an adventure, and as with all true adventures those involved embark on it with only a limited idea of what lies ahead.
Odyssey was trialled and evaluated over sixteen years in Kent. We have proved the concept, developed the skills, consolidated our experience and we are now at an exciting time when we want to spread to the whole nation.
We have exciting plans and want to run as many courses as possible, and for this, we need each and everyone's help to create awareness and raise funds. We believe in innovative, exciting and challenging experiences and ideas from all corners of the world to help us achieve our goal, so don't hesitate to get in touch, we would love to hear from you!