Race night will raise money for Wincanton-based cancer respite charity

A WINCANTON-based charity that offers respite breaks for those affected by cancer is holding a fundraising race night in the town.

The event will take place at King Arthur’s School on April 20, hosted by Matt’s Respite Retreats, which provides free breaks to individuals affected by cancer and offers the use of a caravan at Haven Weymouth Bay.

Melissa Parsons, who founded the charity after losing husband Matt, said: “Taking a break away from home can provide much-needed rest, relaxation, and healing for individuals and families going through difficult times.

“As someone who has experienced the value of a holiday while living with cancer, I understand the importance of these breaks.

“I lost my husband Matt to cancer in 2014, just eight days before our daughter, Faith, was born.

“During Matt’s treatment, we were fortunate to receive paid holidays that allowed us to take a break from the challenging treatment and hospital visits.

“These breaks made a significant difference in our physical and mental well-being, giving us the strength to continue.”

Matt sadly passed away in 2014

Matt sadly passed away in 2014

She said the couple decided to do their bit to help others as Matt’s illness progressed.

“Before he passed away, Matt and I decided to help other families facing cancer by providing them with the same opportunity to have a break,” Melissa said.

“In memory of Matt, I established the charity Matt’s Respite Retreats and personally purchased a static caravan to lend to beneficiaries suffering from cancer.

“The caravan is located at Haven, Weymouth Bay Holiday Park.”

Now, the charity provides breaks for around 45 families each year, giving them three or four-night stays.

“As our charity has gained recognition, the demand has quickly outpaced our capacity,” Melissa added.

Mel and daughter Faith, far right, with guests at the MRR caravan in Weymouth

Mel and daughter Faith, far right, with guests at the MRR caravan in Weymouth

“Last year, we had to close our waiting list in July, turning away 10 or more direct referrals each week.

“It has been heartbreaking to inform families that we are unable to assist them during their most challenging times.”

Anyone who can support the cause, or to book tickets for the race night, which cost £15 and include cheese and charcuterie board, can contact Mel on 07484 154800. Tickets are also available from Capelli Hairdressers, in Wincanton High Street.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.