By Andy Hirst

Many families with disabled children would never have the chance to go on holiday if it wasn’t for a Huddersfield charity that now wants to do even more.

Ruddi’s Retreat provides free caravan breaks for families with disabled children but its four caravans are not enough to meet the ever-increasing need so today it’s launching a new appeal to raise £50,000 to buy a fifth caravan.

The four are now on a site near Filey on the Yorkshire coast and the hope is to buy another one on the west coast, probably near Blackpool.

The charity is also 10 years old this year so it may be people want to have 10 in their fundraising themes – such as a 10-hour bike ride, a 10km run, a 10-mile swim or even completing 10 marathons.

The hope is that businesses throughout Huddersfield will adopt Ruddi’s Retreat as their chosen charity for the year.

Other money comes from fundraising, applications for grants such as the National Lottery and Ruddi’s shop and café in Slaithwaite that specialises in cakes, afternoon teas, lunches and sweets.

Ruddi’s Retreat was set up in 2012 by Ali Waterworth from Linthwaite. Her son, Ruddi, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was just six months old. During the two years Ruddi battled through intensive treatment, including chemotherapy, the children’s cancer charity Candlelighters gave Ruddi and his family a week’s holiday at Primrose Valley Caravan Park in Filey.

Ruddi took his first steps there and it gave his family the chance to spend some special time together. Ali decided other families in such traumatic situations should also have the same opportunity and set up Ruddi’s Retreat so they could go to the caravan park for a badly needed break.

The charity now owns four caravans on the site and have helped more than 1,000 families over the years. Having a disabled or seriously ill child can have a major impact on family finances so many who go there would otherwise struggle to afford a holiday.

Ali said: “Our aim is to help families with seriously ill children to have access to a holiday home for free. We want to help families with young children suffering from the effects and after-effects of cancer treatment, life-limiting illnesses or bereavement to enjoy a family holiday together with minimal financial cost and maximum fun.”

But running such a charity is costly which is why people are urged to do all they can to fundraise for it, including people who have helped Ruddi’s Retreat in the past before Covid struck.

Here is why Ruddi’s Retreat is so important. Going on holiday is a logistical nightmare for Noah McNeill’s family. The 10-year-old from Birkby has a serious lung condition which means he has a permanent tracheostomy to keep his airway open and at night needs to be on a ventilator and sometimes even oxygen.

This means he needs 24-hour care with someone awake with him all night.

Ideally this is a carer but Noah’s parents Jill and Colin often have to step in and share the wakeful shifts.

Going on holiday means they need to take a vanload of kit – almost like a portable intensive care unit – including the ventilator, two large oxygen machines, a suction machine and a SATS monitor.

Jill said: “If we are also taking a carer it’s like taking two families which is very expensive. Ali has been through this and understands how important it is to have a break and the charity is giving families the chance to have some peaceful family time. It’s hard to put into words how important this is.

“People who fundraise for Ruddi’s Retreat or buy anything from Ruddi’s shop and café are helping to make that difference. They are putting smiles on the faces of people whose lives can be exceptionally hard and unrelenting. Without Ruddi’s we would probably never have gone away.”

Ruddi’s Retreat has four large holiday home caravans on the Primrose Valley Holiday Park Filey operated by Haven holiday company.

Noah, his nine-year-old brother, Oscar, Jill and Colin have been there twice before in 2017 and 2019 and are due to go again this summer. Jill is just so immensely grateful, especially as Ruddi’s also provide an entertainment pass for every family worth £200.

She said: “That £200 brings so much happiness into lives and Primrose Valley is just brilliant for kids. Both Noah and Oscar have a wonderful time at Primrose Valley and even though it rained all one of the weeks we went, there was still plenty for them to do from swimming in the pools, kids clubs and crafts to archery. Even just going to stay in a caravan is a big adventure for them. Noah loves the shows and just stands at the front glued to them.

“Life is just so regimented and pressured when you have a child with disabilities, so often ruled by sorting out care and medical appointments. It’s just great to getaway and not have to do that. Ruddi’s gives us a chance to step off that treadmill.”

Noah can quickly become unwell and the caravan near Filey means the family is not too far from Leeds General Infirmary.

Anyone who can help the charity in any way – it’s always looking for new trustees – or wants to organise some fundraising should phone Ali on 01484 766050 or email

T-shirts are available to help the fundraisers boost the charity’s profile.

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.