By Andy Hirst
A £15,000 donation from a member of the Royal family is a huge boost for a Huddersfield charity which helps families at some of the most traumatic times in their lives.
Ruddi’s Retreat provides free caravan breaks for families with children battling serious illnesses such as cancer, have life-limiting conditions or have suffered bereavement.
It has four caravans on the Primrose Valley Holiday Park near Filey and demand is so high with around 200 families helped each year they now need a fifth caravan … and the charity’s patron, Sarah, Duchess of York, has given £15,000.
Ruddi’s already has £20,000 from the Clothworkers’ Foundation which gives grants to improve the lives of people and communities – particularly those facing disadvantage and marginalisation.
The charity has also just been pledged £25,000 from the Wooden Spoon charity – the children’s charity of rugby which helps disabled children facing disadvantage – where they met another member of the Royal family, Mike Tindall.
The former England Rugby Union star and husband of Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips, was guest speaker at a fundraising meal in Leeds where Ruddi’s assistant manager Vicki Green gave a talk about the charity’s work.
Ruddi’s Retreat will also be helped by next April’s Pedal for Pounds, Huddersfield Town’s annual end of season charity bike ride. Cyclists will be pedalling 260 miles from the John Smith’s Stadium to the Cardiff City Stadium in the Welsh capital where the Terriers will take on the Bluebirds in their second to last game of the 2022/23 season on April 29.
Ruddi’s Retreat founder Ali Waterworth said the new caravan will be on a site just outside Blackpool but not too far from the North Bay.
She said: “This will make a huge difference to the charity and means we can send another 75 families on free holidays this spring and summer. We are struggling to keep up with the demand and things will only get worse as the economic crisis continues.
“The Duchess has been so amazingly kind to us and we just can’t thank the Clothworkers’ Foundation and Wooden Spoon enough. The difference major donations like this make to a charity such as ours is unbelievable and has such a positive and long-lasting effect on so many lives.
“Holidays are about happy times and making memories but for the families we help they get very little chance to do this in and among the constant hospital and medical appointments along with the daily emotional pressures and trauma they face in life. That’s why the holidays we provide can make such a difference.”
Families with children who are disabled or seriously ill are often hit hard financially and so can’t afford a holiday or the logistics of perhaps having a child in a wheelchair or needing oxygen make it impossible. One of the caravans in Filey has been specially adapted for wheelchairs and special medical needs.
The Blackpool caravan will be second-hand and around £50,000 but could need a further £15,000 to kit it out to meet families’ needs. Ali is looking to buy it in January or February.
“It will be a beautiful caravan and our families will be able to have an amazing time holidaying in it,” she said.
Ruddi’s Retreat helped 260 families this year and with the new caravan that figure will soar above 300. The vast majority come from the Kirklees and West Yorkshire area.
Ali set up Ruddi’s Retreat 10 years ago after she was given a week’s caravan holiday by a charity and realised how immensely beneficial it was to the family.
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 should also have that opportunity so she set up Ruddi’s Retreat.
* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.