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September 2011 Newsletter

PostedThursday, 1st September, 2011
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Well it is THHN newsletter time once again giving me chance to update you all on our goings on over the last eight weeks or so, I have a great deal to tell you about so I won’t delay!

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who sponsored my 73km Challenge which I finally completed on Sunday 11th September in Bristol after completing the Bristol Half Marathon in 1hr 39min. The challenge should have been finished in June but unfortunately a sickness bug the night before the Torbay Half Marathon prevented this so the Bristol run had to replace it. This was a great shame as the Torbay run was the one I was looking forward to the most as it was in my home town and would have been well supported but there is always next year! My 73km Challenge saw me competing in the following runs:

Great West Run (Exeter Half Marathon)
BUPA Great Manchester Run
Plymouth Half Marathon
Bristol Half Marathon

I am pleased to say that the total figure raised from sponsorship was £1,770.00 for the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal – Oncology Fund for brain tumour research. If any of you fancy helping to push that final figure up to £1,800.00 with some last minute donations please feel free to do so on my online giving page here

Next a quick update on our charities commission registration which is sadly still going through, I was hoping to have this all in place by now but all we can do is wait patiently. When we are registered we plan on providing visiting THHN families with holiday grants to cover all of their travelling and other expenses incurred when going away on holiday, giving them the complete free holiday experience. When a family has a seriously ill child invariably one of the parents will have to quit work to care for the sick child which puts a massive financial strain on them. We want to give families who are going through living nightmares quality time together, giving them chance to build up those all important memories they will treasure forever without any financial worry or implication.

Which brings me on to fundraising and the as always amazing Alice Pyne and her Emma Bridgewater mug she has designed for the THHN, I am thrilled to report that sales have shot to over 1,000 mugs!! The mugs can be purchased online from Emma Bridgewater direct or in store and online at Liberty London. You can read all about Alice and her mug by following this link

Once again a young lady called Zanna Messenger-Jones from Cumbria has raised even more money for THHN by making and selling friendship bracelets at her local football club and has donated £87.00, so huge thanks to Zanna for all her very much appreciated efforts!

Next it gives me great pleasure to announce that Exeter Golf & Country Club held their PGA Pro-am on Sunday 4th September which was a huge success seeing golfers from all over the country enter. Club captains Paul Smale and Vivienne Worthington have nominated THHN as Exeter Golf & Country Clubs charity for 2011 and have been holding many events in aid of THHN. I was invited to the prize giving ceremony where Paul and Vivienne presented me with a cheque for £4,000 from funds raised on the day which will make a huge impact on such a small charity like THHN as we are run completely on a voluntary basis. I really cannot thank Paul and Vivienne enough for their hospitality and invaluable support and all of Exeter Golf & Country Clubs members for getting behind them and helping them raise as much money as possible and not forgetting all who took part in the event. They have more great events planned throughout the remainder of the year which I will keep you all informed about.

I would like to thank Torquay and Babbacombe Rotary clubs who have both had me as their guest speaker over the last few weeks to talk about THHN and they looked after me very well and even fed me at both meetings! I was very nervous as I am not the world’s greatest public speaker but they made me feel very welcome and at ease and my speech’s went very well and without incident. I was received very well and I have had fantastic offers of support from both clubs and look forward to working with them both in the coming months which I will keep you posted about.

A quick thank you to local fulltime mother Sonia Reece who has been a great support to many THHN families by offering visiting families who do not have their own transport lifts to attractions. Sonia has given many families lifts, giving up her days to drop them off and pick them up at the end of the day and sometimes covering large distances. I do have many of you who very kindly offer your support with transport and I thank you all as it is a huge help!

Earlier this year I nominated Hannah Jones for a WellChild Award, many of you will remember Hannah as she and her family were the first to benefit from a THHN holiday. I am delighted to say that Hannah won the award for bravest child 16-18yrs. To celebrate Hannah winning I organised for Hannah and her family to come on a THHN holiday and for Hannah to have a flying lesson courtesy of Plymouth Flying School. Huge thanks to Lothar at the school for making this possible and for pilot Lynn for looking after us all so well! Hannah insisted that I was a passenger in the very small 4 seater aircraft and I can say it is an experience I will never forget and Hannah as usual was phenomenal! You can read about the day and all Hannah has acheived and see some footage by following this link.

Myself, my wife Suzanne and Hannah along with her family all attended the star studded red carpet awards ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel on Park lane in London on 31st August. I had the honour of escorting Hannah and her sister Molly to a VIP reception where we met WellChild patron Prince Harry and discussed all Hannah has achieved during her battle with a cancerous brain tumour. We then went through for dinner and the awards ceremony where we shared a table with the band and WellChild ambassadors Scouting For Girls along with the rest of our party. The evening was very emotional, airing so many incredible stories and achievements, Hannah was presented with her thoroughly deserved award on stage by actress Barbara Winsor. After the awards we were treated to performances from boy band Blue and Britain’s Got Talent winners Stavros Flatley. It truly was an evening of a lifetime and I have never seen so many celebrities in one place at the same time. You can view video highlights of the awards by following this link

I am now pleased to say that WellChild nurses who do an incredible job are now offering THHN holidays to families who they carry out their amazing work with, you can find more information on WellChild on their website

THHN has also linked up with yet more incredible charities to refer families to us for holidays and they are as follows:
Pauls Fund
Paul’s Fund is a grant making charitable trust set up in 2009 with the Charities Aid Foundation to enable young adults who are facing challenging personal situations to have a respite holiday break.

A Child Of Mine
Help For Bereaved parents

Joss Parkes Searchlight
Joss Parkes Searchlight was set up after the sad death of Joss Parkes in January 2011. The charity has been formed to provide practical co-ordinated support for families with children suffering from brain tumours.

We are proud to be associated with these incredible organizations and look forward to working with them in the near future and thank them for their support in helping us help as many families as possible.

Faith’s Beach Hut is sadly going to be taken in to storage very soon after being in use for its second season, giving families a traditional Great British day out at the seaside. Caroline & Paul Hooper who organised the hut in memory of their daughter Faith and manage it have really made it outstanding in kitting it out with all you could need for a great day out. It has its own cooker, tables, chairs, toys and boogie boards to name just a few things they have packed in! So huge thanks to them both for enhancing many THHN families holidays not least to mention Alice Pyne who loved the hut so much she featured it on her Emma Bridgewater mug!

Lastly and most importantly I have to let you know about the THHN holidays taken since may last newsletter in July. Collectively our accommodation providers have given away 15 holidays giving families much valued time together away from hospitals and nightmares they sadly call reality.

Holiday number one was taken by a family not fitting our usual criteria but an area I want to spread in to where a parent is terminally ill. The family were referred by the charity Over The Wall, the families father is terminally ill with lung cancer and they stayed with us here at the Hotel De La Mer in Babbacombe, where they all had a great time and one of the daughters enjoyed her birthday whilst away.

Holiday number two was taken by a family referred from the charity Over The Wall who have a child suffering from bladder augmentation, chronic renal failure, scolosis and lardosis. They stayed at the Ashley Court Hotel in Torquay where hotel owner Steve very kindly organised for a coach company to collect and return the family home as they did not have their own transport, so a huge thank you to Steve. The family had an incredible time and thanks to the THHN’s Auntie Sonia who took them to Woodlands for the day.

Holiday number three was taken by a family referred by a local GP who have a daughter suffering with a brain tumour. They stayed here with us at the Hotel De La Mer and you can read all about their holiday by following this link

Holiday number four was taken by a family referred by the Bristol CLIC Sargent team who have a child who suffers with anaplastic high grade pontine astrocytoma. They stayed at the Marine Hotel in Paignton where they were fantastically looked after by managers Nicola & Paul and their team of staff.

Holiday number five was taken by a family who were originally referred by the Bristol CLIC Sargent team last year and they were returning for a second time. They have a child who has suffered with two conditions Leukaemia and a brain tumour and is still fighting one. They stayed here at the Hotel De La Mer again and it was lovely to see them, they had a great time and we were sad to say goodbye.

Holiday number six was taken by a family who were referred by the Child Bereavement Charity and they were looked after fantastically as always by long serving members Janet and Andrew of the Glenross Hotel in Torquay. The family had a lovely time where they really just needed some peace and quiet to reflect and this is exactly what they were given.

Holiday number seven was taken by a bereaved family who were referred by the Bristol CLIC Sargent team, they sadly lost their son to a brain tumour. They stayed here with us at the Hotel De La Mer in Babbacombe, it was the first time they had been away on holiday since their loss which made it a very emotional trip for them but they managed to enjoy themselves, having some great days out and quality time together.

Holiday number eight was taken by a family referred by the Bath CLIC Sargent Team who have a child suffering from a PNET tumour. The family stayed here with us at the Hotel De La Mer in Babbacombe and had a great time recharging their batteries.

Holiday number nine was taken by a family referred from the Taunton CLIC Sargent team who have a child who had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant for a condition. The family stayed with Janet and Andrew at the Glenross Hotel in Torquay where once again they were looked after so very well and had a fantastic holiday.

Holiday number ten was taken by a family referred by Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity who have a child suffering from lissencephaly. The family stayed at the Ashley Court Hotel in Torquay where they were so very well looked after by owner Steve and all his super staff, giving them a holiday to remember.

Holiday number eleven was taken by a family referred by the charity PASIC who have a child suffering from Neuroblastoma. The family stayed at the Marine Hotel in Paignton where again managers Nicola & Paul and their staff all did a sterling job in ensuring the family had an amazing holiday.

Holiday number twelve was taken by a young gentleman called Karl who was originally referred to me by the Bristol CLIC Sargent team. Karl came on a THHN holiday late in May this year with his lovely wife Sarah who was battling against acute myloid leukaemia. They had a lovely holiday and it was a true privilege to have them stay with us as are all THHN families. Sadly Karl called me a couple of weeks later to say that Sarah had finally lost her battle and had peacefully passed away at home. I immediately offered Karl to come and stay with us again when he felt ready, which he did this month. Karl made what must have been a very difficult trip for him down to Torquay to come and stay with us again and when here he explained how much he and Sarah had enjoyed their time with us and how much they loved the area. Karl said that given how much Sarah liked the area and what good memories they had shared here he would like to scatter her ashes in Babbacombe bay and asked me if I would like to accompany him. So one beautiful evening we found a beautiful and peaceful spot where we climbed down some rocks and Karl scattered her ashes along with some rose petals in the sea and said his final goodbye to his beloved wife. I was so touched that Karl had such good memories here that he wanted to do this and it was a true honour to accompany him. Karl is always welcome to come a visit whenever he wants to and I will always have a quiet moment when I pass the spot where he scattered Sarah’s ashes.

Holiday number thirteen was for a family due to stay here with us at the Hotel De la Mer in Babbacombe and were referred by the Bristol CLIC Sargent team. Sadly the family were unable to make it down for their break.

Holiday number fourteen was taken by a family referred by the charity Shooting Star Chase who have a child suffering from Costello Syndrome who had been in Great Ormond Street Hospital for the best part of the year before needing to return in early September for major surgery that would see them hospitalised for several months once again. The family had a very small gap of time where a holiday may be possible and contacted me to see if I could help. I mailed out to all of our accommodation providers and got several very kind offers, in the end the most suited was for them to stay with Eve and her team of staff at the Rutland Hotel in Torquay. They had a truly incredible time and made the most of the very rare and precious time together as a whole family, leaving them as ready as they could be to face the major surgery that was looming. I am pleased to say that the surgery all went to plan and Daisy is recovering in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Holiday number fifteen was a THHN first – it was our first foreign holiday!!! Staying under the hospitality of Tony and his wife at Grand Mont Gites in Ambazac, France. Tony contacted me a while ago offering his invaluable support to THHN and is now continuing his very kind support. The family were referred by the Leicester CLIC Sargent team and they are bereaved losing their 10yr old son to Leukaemia. They had an incredible holiday where they had use of Tony’s horses to go exploring the beautiful French countryside. Tony has even contacted the local tourist attractions to gain families discounted entry, so huge thanks to him for all of his efforts.

You can read family accounts of their THHN holidays by following this link where can read just how much our holidays mean to them

A huge thank you to all of our accommodation providers for the holidays that have been given and for all of you who have offered holidays that have sometimes on occasion not been filled. Huge thanks goes out to all of our other supporting businesses who offer families free services like all of our tourist attractions, cafes and restaurants, theatres and cinemas. I could write pages of thank you’s but without all of your support the THHN would not exist and collectively we are making a big difference to people’s lives and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your invaluable support!

If any of you know of businesses who may like to help THHN, please do get in touch as we would love to hear from you. We have a high number of self catering holidays coming up soon and really need help in sourcing new food suppliers to lighten the load for our current members so any suggestions would be warmly welcomed.

Together we continue to grow and make a difference!

Best wishes & thanks




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