September 2015 Newsletter

PostedFriday, 4th September, 2015
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Wow! It can’t be September already! Where has the summer gone? It’s not surprising time has gone so fast as it’s been a super busy, in fact record breaking busy time for everyone at Torbay Holiday Helper’s Network, or THHN. We have hosted 67 families touched by serious illness or bereavement for very much needed free holidays in Torbay so far this year, one of whom were our 500th family! At the same time we’ve been busy organising our biggest fundraiser to date, all of which has led to an action packed summer that more people, fundraisers and volunteers have been a part of than ever before. We thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts.

Our 500th Family

We were just hosting our 500th family as the last newsletter was being written. This family were Anna Goldston and her two boys Alfie (6) and Leo (3), together with Anna’s father. Alfie was born with congenital heart disease and had complicated surgery soon after birth. In May this year, he needed further open heart surgery and the holiday was booked to give him and his family something exciting and positive to focus on during three long and difficult weeks in hospital. Anna says;

“Knowing we were coming to Devon in the summer kept us going while we were on a very different kind of ‘holiday’ in Leeds and I was sleeping on a camp bed on the ward next to Alfie.”

The family visited Torbay on 9th August. They stayed in the THHN Memory Maker caravan in Cudleigh and made full use of the activities on offer. Anna says;

“We enjoyed exploring and doing things Alfie couldn’t do before his surgery. We really enjoyed all the attractions and days out and the wonderful meals and food people provided for us. It blew me away how kind everyone was to us and how special they made us feel at every place we visited and from those who gave us wonderful food hampers at the caravan. There is just so much love everywhere for THHN and the families. It’s just incredible. Alfie’s future is uncertain and these memories are just so precious and so treasured. We just can’t thank everyone who helped us make them enough”

City to Sea 53

The first City to Sea event has just taken place, here are some stories about why some people took part, more details about the event next month.

Stories Behind the City to Sea

We’ve been hearing some amazing and inspirational stories from some of our runners and walkers about how and why they came to be taking part in the City to Sea event. Many are hoping to raise extra funds for THHN in sponsorship, many others have overcome huge personal challenges to be taking part at all. We thought we’d share some of these stories with you this month and some more in our October newsletter as we look back over what we are sure is going to be an amazing day. If you have a City to Sea story, some thoughts or memories from the day itself or even photos you’d like us to share in October’s newsletter please email

Sally’s Story

Sally Debney (41) was kind enough to share her inspirational story with us and also the Dartmouth Chronicle to help us raise awareness of the event and the work we do.

Sally has had an especially busy summer holiday fitting long distance running around her usual activities as a mum, part time waitress and wife of the curate of Dartmouth Parish. Sadly, Sally lost her own son, Nathan, at just two years old in 2006, following complications after surgery for a bowel obstruction.

Sally says, “We sat in intensive care with him for 2 months as he struggled to pull through. He was so brave but sadly lost his battle. I was pregnant at the time with his brother, he would never get to meet. I know how much this has changed and affected our family and can completely, whole heartedly sympathise with parents with terminally ill children and if lasting memories can be made for them, then that Is a job we can all get involved with. I feel that this charity is so important to these families and wish that we had had the time to make more memories with our son Nathan before he died. Memories are so important and stay with you forever. By taking part in these events, it helps me cope with our loss in keeping Nathan’s memory alive and with us more.”

Why not show Sally some love and support as she runs further than she has ever run before by sponsoring her on Justgiving

Ann’s Story

Six years ago, Ann Skinner was told she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 60. She says;

“I was told to take it easy, to avoid walking up stairs and stop hiking up mountains but I soon realised that not doing these things, not living fully and not challenging myself was not the way to go. It made things worse. I started living small and worried about what might be rather than what was. It was then that I realised that I was living as if it had already happened. So I stopped worrying and started living and realised that we should never do just what we are told without questioning it.”

However, Ann’s experience of her mother’s illness, and subsequent death, from Parkinson’s Disease and cancer made her aware that life is sometimes decided for us and families can be hit by tragedy in the form of illness or loss.

“The strain on the family is immense when dealing with a loved one who is ill. Not everyone has the benefit of a support system around them. Not everyone has the funds to be given a bit of a break. It is wonderful to know that there are charities out there supporting families having to deal with these crisis”

You can show your support Ann’s City to Sea walk by donating to her Justgiving page.

Peter’s Story

(Peter is not this gentleman’s real name as he wanted to share his story and his support for the event anonymously.)

Peter lives in the North of the UK and has recently taken early retirement due to mental health issues (depression). He is enjoying my retirement and keeping myself busy but always looking for new challengers and ways of getting fit and losing weight.

Peter and his wife have holidayed in Babbacombe nearly every year for as long as he can remember and love coming to Devon. They had already booked this years holiday for late September. The couple always keep up with news and events around the Babbacombe area and read about the City to Sea event. Peter told his wife in passing that it was a shame as he would have liked to have a go at the 23 mile walk if it had coincided with their holiday. However,

“The next thing I know my wife had booked me a guest house and a place on the walk so I am coming down myself by train. With all I have gone through in the past few years this is a challenge in itself, even without the walk. I am looking forward to the weekend maybe with a little trepidation but excited as well.”

Peter says;

“I have no connection with THNN and up to now I have not needed their services but I feel that they have helped me with my own personal battle as the walk has given me something to focus on and I have helped them with my entrance fee so everyone’s a winner. I am looking forward to meeting members of the THHN ON 5th of Sept and hope everything goes well and its a massive success.”

Swapping Slippers for Trainers

On August 23rd our running team flew the THHN flag proudly at the Torbay Regatta 10K. Among them was Lizzie Hurford who was taking part in her first ever race. Lizzie is part of the ‘THNN Slippers to Trainers group.’ The group was set up by THHN fundraising manager and runner, Brian Lewis, as a way to encourage people new to running to get started.


Lizzie told us how the group helped her swap her own slippers for trainers and complete her first 10K;

“I’ve always wanted to be a runner and have regularly been at other events cheering the THHN runners in. My husband is a natural runner, completing many of the races with ease. I’ve always been the one holding the bags and waiting for him to finish. We went out a few times together but I never made it past the end of the road without being out of breath or telling myself I couldn’t do it. I’d always feel bad for slowing him down or shortening his runs!

In January, I saw Brian posting about his ‘Slippers to Trainers Challenge. Being January, I was looking for a new resolution and hobby. I was nervous about going along to the first session but also very excited! Since then I haven’t looked back – each week I’ve made the effort to attend.

The group goes out running once a week in the evening, usually on a Thursday but we have been flexible if someone couldn’t make it. There are usually between three and five of us running each week. I’ve loved running in a group with people of similar ability. Brian has ensured we’ve followed a plan and has continued to motivate me and being part of a group, with people expecting me to go, has helped me get out, even on the cold January evenings! Brian has ensured that we’ve stayed at a pace we are all comfortable with, meaning we are able to talk whilst running. This has been great for me as its not only taken my mind off of what I’m doing but has meant that I’ve formed friendships with fellow runners. It has also been such a pleasure running alongside the sea and appreciating the local area whilst becoming fitter. I began going to the gym in October 2013 and since then have lost three stone in weight. Running has helped me to keep the weight off and stay toned. I’ve also noticed my fitness level has increased. I have more energy and am less tired. Running has also helped me to be away from the usual stresses of day to day life, I’ve loved meeting new people/

THHN is close to my heart and that helps motivate me too. Running is something I can do and when I get tired I think of those people who can’t and try harder!

I completed my first race, Torbay 10k on Saturday 23rd August, for THHN, after just eight months of running, 10k is pretty much a marathon to me so I picked my challenge and tackled it! I did the course in 1 hr 13, running consistent 12 minute miles. I hope it will be the first of many and if I can do it, anyone can!

A new Slippers to Trainers group will be starting on September 17th so if you are feeling inspired to get running then why not join in. Keep your eyes peeled on the THHN facebook page for more information on how to join in.


Lily and Poppy Get on their Bikes

Lily and Poppy Barr have put their school holidays to very good use indeed in setting and achieving a fantastic cycling challenge for THHN.

Lily, who is 8 and Poppy, aged 6, only started cycling at Easter. Having learned to ride at the Torbay Velopark, the girls decided to set themselves a challenge to go back there several times over the Summer and ride laps. Lily would cycle a total of 100 miles and Poppy would cycle 50. They reached their targets during their final session on Saturday 29th August and have raised lots of money for THHN in the process.

Thank-you so much girls. You are amazing!

If you’d like to add to Lily and Poppy’s sponsorship you can either text the message VELO87 £2 to the number 70070 or visit their Justgiving page.

We would also like to thank Torbay Velopark for their support and for having our donation buckets available throughout the summer and of course to Lily and Poppy’s parents, family and friends who have supported them throughout their challenge.

Georgia’s Bake Off

Another little girl who has put her summer to good use is seven-year-old Georgia Taylor who, with her super family, raised £217.90p for THHN, by holding their very own cake sale.

Georgia decided one day that she wanted to help THHN by holding a cake sale, so the whole family got baking and put up posters advertising their cake sale at their home in Torquay. Georgia and her Mummy, Dr. Sarah Taylor are both regular fundraisers for THHN and we cannot than you both enough for your amazing support that you continue to show

We think we’ll be seeing you in that Bake Off tent with Mary Berry one day Georgia!

Ollie’s 30 Miles of Summer

Yet another child using his school holidays to challenge himself and raise money for THHN is Ollie Hill who has set out to run 30 miles through the summer. You can sponsor Ollie on his Justgiving page.

This Month’s Heartfelt Thanks

Thank you the organisers of the Torbay Half Marathon, who have donated £500 to THHN, in return for our amazing volunteers helping to marshal the fantastic event! Of course a special thank you to our Team THHN volunteers for giving your much valued and appreciated time in order for us to receive this donation.

A big thank you to Bishops Fleming Accountants in Torquay for choosing THHN as the charity to fundraise for in their latest challenge. A team made up of employees from all the offices will be cycling 325 miles between each office over four days.

The Torquay Office held a Cycling Relay Race at Torbay’s Velopark this week, inviting teams from Pavey Group, Woolen Michlemore, Natwest and more to take part and to raise some sponsorship. A Great evening was had by all.


A huge thank you to our super team of volunteers, who raised £262.19 at the Cockington Fair on August 5th.

A big thank you to our good friends at Haddon Galleries, who hosted a fundraising event for us.

Huge thanks to our wonderful partners who have donated holidays this month, including; Buckfast Abbey, Burlington Hotel, Vomero Holiday Apartments. Hotel De La Mer, The Cliffs Babbacombe Brunel Manor. Thank-you to our business partners who have donated food and goodies for our families on holiday, including; Riverford Home Delivery, Claire’s Cakes, Halletts the Bakers, Luscombes Butchers of Torbay, Westcountry Fruit Sales, The Entertainer Store, Torquay and Teddy Mountain UK Ltd – Stuff Your Own Teddy Bear. Huge thanks, as always, to the wonderful attractions and cafes across Torbay who donated visits to our families to help create a holiday of a lifetime. A special thank you too must go to our amazing team of volunteers who work so hard behind the scenes to make our very special holidays possible to give, to families affected by serious illness and bereavement from across the UK.


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