By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
One of Huddersfield’s best-loved charities has been awarded a Royal honour.
Ruddi’s Retreat, based in Slaithwaite, has received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for the way it provides free caravan holidays to families with young children who have been affected by serious illnesses such as cancer, have life-limiting illnesses or have suffered bereavement.
The award is the highest any voluntary group can receive and comes almost exactly 10 years since Ruddi’s was set up.
Ruddi’s founder Ali Waterworth said: “We are absolutely delighted and honoured that the charity’s work has been recognised and this award pays tribute to the hard work and commitment of the whole team and the wonderful volunteers who have assisted us over the years.”
The charity has seen a big increase in demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with many families using the four caravans on the east Yorkshire coast this summer who have lost someone to coronavirus.
Ali said: “We’ve had so many applications from people who have lost a loved one – usually a parent – to Covid. It’s just so heart-breaking. This pandemic has caused such sadness within our community.”
The caravans are on the five-star Primrose Valley Haven caravan site at Filey and one of them, which is fully adapted for wheelchair use, was bought in October 2019 by the Huddersfield Town Pedal 4 Pounds fundraising cycle marathon.
Ruddi’s main source of income is its café in the centre of Slaithwaite which specialises in homemade cakes and afternoon teas.
Since Ruddi’s Retreat was set up in June 2011, the charity has provided free holidays to about 700 families. Around 80% of them are from the Huddersfield area but the charity also helps families across the Yorkshire region and nationwide.
Ali said: “It’s all about these families having quality time together – some have been through terrible traumas.”
One family who went to the caravan last August after losing a child to cancer when she was just six wrote: “Ruddi’s Retreat gave us some much-needed time away, finding our feet as a family of four instead of five. It was emotional and we missed her so much but it was so lovely to see her sister and brother having fun which they really deserved after a heart-breaking couple of years.”
The charity is called Ruddi’s Retreat because Ali’s son, Ruddi, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was just six months old.
READ MORE: How Ruddi’s Retreat helps families
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 should also have that opportunity so she set up Ruddi’s Retreat which meant others could go to the caravan park for a badly needed break. Many who go there would otherwise struggle to afford a holiday.
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The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Winners are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.
Nationwide, 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups have received the prestigious award this year.
For more on Ruddi’s Retreat go to https://www.ruddisretreat.org/
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.