A Bit Of A Break - Helping Families From Coast To Coast
A Bit of a Break charity founder Angela Sturgeon had always been a keen cyclist, and when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, she embarked on a series of cycling adventures raising over £40,000 for various cancer charities, including Target Ovarian Cancer
. Towards the end of her five-year journey of living with cancer, cycling along the coast of Donegal with her husband Matthew and their children Jack and Emily she had an idea. And that idea was A Bit of a Break.
Angela knew well how much her family benefitted from getting away and spending precious time together after she was diagnosed with cancer, and she wanted others in similar situations to be able to do the same. She also knew how difficult it was to plan any kind of holiday when you’re living with a terminal or life limiting illness.
Her idea was simple. A Bit of a Break would seek out self-catering holiday homeowners who might be prepared to gift un-booked weeks to people living with terminal illness and desperately needing a holiday. While the holiday homeowner would be asked to donate the property, A Bit of a Break would pay them for laundry and cleaning costs as well as utilities for the week.
Helping families from coast to coast
One of the properties
The charity currently has 42 properties on its books stretching from the Northumberland and North Yorkshire coasts in the east to Anglesey in the west and from Scotland in the north to Cornwall in the south with the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District in between. All thanks to its partnership with individual holiday homeowners and holiday cottage businesses like Coquet Cottages
in Northumberland, and Heart of the Lakes
in the Lake Distirict.
In 2022, 25 families were referred to the charity from a mixture of GP practices and hospices near Ilkley, West Yorkshire where Angela founded the charity and lived with Matthew and their children, and Liverpool, Merseyside where she grew up and where many of her family still live.
Giving people with terminal and life limiting illnesses a holiday
Every family referred to A Bit of a Break truly deserves a holiday, and A Bit of a Break works hard to find a holiday home that matches the family’s unique set of requirements. Some people need accessible accommodation for a multi-generational family holiday as well as access to a range of activities for the young and energetic in the group. While others will simply need peace in a beautiful, quiet location.
Miranda Warren from Carers Resource said:
"I have just spoken to R who went to stay at Mahonia Lodge recently, they had a wonderful time. The accommodation was absolutely perfect for them and they have all come back feeling better for having had a break and a change of scenery. Many, many thanks for organising such a lovely break for them, it was greatly appreciated."
Having a range of properties to draw on gives the charity flexibility and a better chance of meeting the family’s needs, which is crucial when plans change at the last minute due to illness or because a vital hospital appointment is suddenly scheduled.
Northumberland is a favourite destination with over half of the properties located there, but as the charity has grown and partners with hospices and surgeries in and around Merseyside, it’s seen an increase in need for properties on the north-west coast, like Blackpool and Lytham St Annes as well as stunning north Wales.
Angela died in December 2016 but her widower Matthew and their children, now in their twenties, along with their family and friends have kept Angela’s legacy alive by supporting the charity and continuing her love of cycling adventures to raise funds, including the epic Project Lighthouse.
The idea to cycle to all 186 lighthouses in mainland Britain was Matthew’s with the first lighthouse visited in 2019. This is no solo adventure though with Matthew opening up the invitation to friends and family to join him whenever and wherever they can. In May a group of 38 friends and family cycled the Llyn Peninsula, including many of Angela’s family with her 88 year-old father in charge of the support vehicle. A Bit of a Break really is a charity built on family.
With over 100 lighthouses visited already, Matthew is well over the halfway point. He’s raised almost £9,000 for A Bit of a Break, and it’s given him, his friends and family a brilliant excuse to come together, remember Angela and make new memories along the way.
For more information on the charity A Bit of a Break click here
If you’re lucky enough to have your own holiday home – a cottage, lodge or maybe a caravan and have un-booked weeks available – possibly out-of-season – that you could gift to a family needing precious time away with loved ones, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org