Two of Teesside’s best-known charities have joined forces with several local companies to fund a caravan to provide short breaks for some of the region’s most disadvantaged children and their families.
The Finlay Cooper Fund, the charity set up by former Boro star Colin Cooper and his wife Julie, has donated £35,000 to Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation towards the purchase and running costs of the eight-berth caravan near Filey.
Combined with a further £20,000 donated by a range of Teesside organisations and individuals, the Philanthropic Foundation now has the funds to run the caravan for the next two years.
The Foundation will now run two caravans at Reighton Sands to bring joy to some of Teesside’s least privileged children and families, giving them short breaks that would normally be beyond their financial reach.
The Foundation works closely with local charities, community groups and schools to identify families who would most benefit from the facility.
Families from North Ormesby, Park End, Billingham, Norton, Redcar and Hartlepool are among those who have enjoyed a break at Reighton Sands Holiday Park over the past year.
Former Boro star Cooper, who launched the Finlay Cooper Fund with wife Julie in memory of their son who died in a choking accident shortly before his second birthday, said he was excited by the partnership with the Philanthropic Foundation.
“We’d been looking for the right scheme to support – and this one is exactly the sort of project the Finlay Cooper Fund exists to help,” he said.
“It’s an inspiring idea that’s making a real impact for Teesside kids who most need a helping hand. It’s been heart-rending to learn of the poverty that some local children live in, so we’re just delighted to be able to help.
“As a small charity, we just don’t have the man power to run this kind of initiative ourselves, but we are thrilled to be able to join forces with the Philanthropic Foundation in such a brilliant way.”
Andy Preston, chairman-founder of the Philanthropic Foundation, said: “This partnership is a brilliant expression of what make Teesside such a special place.
“To join forces with the Finlay Cooper Fund and other local firms and people in this way is the epitome of the Foundation’s slogan, ‘Fighting for Teesside together’.
“Being able to double the number of disadvantaged Teesside families we help in 2018 just feels fantastic.
“It’s great credit to supporters of both charities including all those who donated £1,000 towards our second caravan that will genuinely improve the lives of struggling local families who desperately need a break.
“Our two caravans will provide vital holidays from the pressures of extreme poverty to good people who deserve some breathing space.
“Some of these families haven’t had a holiday for many years – and some have never travelled outside of Teesside.”
Finlay Cooper Fund trustee Nick Waites added: “It really appealed to our charity that the caravan breaks would benefit so many Teesside kids for hopefully many years to come. We’re proud to be working with the Philanthropic Foundation in this way.”
Among those who generously contributed towards the further £20,000 boost towards the caravan breaks were Philanthropic Foundation patrons Active Chartered Financial Planners, Devereux Transport and Distribution, Mandale Group, Erimus Insurance Brokers, AV Dawson, PX Group, Ian and Adrienne Stark, Graham and Kerry Sizer, and Andy and Lizzie Preston.
Further generous donations came from local firms CJ Leonard & Sons, IWS Gaffney, Durata UK and Parker Barras, plus charitable group Boro Walkers Association and individual Paul Gibson.
Ken Devereux of Devereux Transport said: “We’re delighted to be supporting a scheme that has such tangible and ongoing benefits for Teessiders in need of a helping hand.”
The fully furnished three-bed caravan features double glazing, central heating and a disability ramp, while the holiday park includes direct access to the beach, an indoor swimming pool, outdoor lazy river, show bar, restaurant, nine-hole golf course, archery, mini golf and kids’ activities.