Paul’s Fund is a grant making charitable trust with the aim of enabling young adults and their families who are facing challenging personal circumstances to have a respite holiday break staying at Paul’s Place, which provides both Bed and Breakfast and self-catering accommodation. Paul’s Place is located in the delightful village of Georgeham near Croyde on the North Devon coast.
During Neil's treatment regimes, we as a family would make an effort to take Neil away as many times as we could. This would help Neil as it gave him something to look forward to and it broke up the monotony of the treatments. Another opportunity of a weekend away came about because of Paul's Fund.
We arrived at Paul's Place on the Friday afternoon and having been met by the lovely hosts, David and Pippa we were welcomed inside. From that moment on the weekend was spectactular. We were offered tea and cake (Neil had hot chocloate!) as we sat and introduced oursleves. We were shown our rooms and Neil had a double to himself although he had to put up with his sister Sarah on a sofa bed in the same room!
Being in Croyde gave Neil the opportunity to be on the beach once again. Neil loved the sea side and many of his younger years were spent playing in the sand on holiday. Setting up base on Puttsborough beach, it didn't take long for Neil to want to be up and doing something. Luckily we brought bats and we played a game we liked to call 'tap tap' which really only consisited of hitting a small ball with 2 bats. This was great for Neil. Whilst having fun, it was continually testing him and helping to re-develop his hand eye coordination that the illness had taken away from him.
It just so happend that this weekend occured at a similar time to Neil completing 200 miles on his Lands End to John O'Groats challenge so we took the oppurtunity to celebrate this whilst we were there. This was a significant milestone for Neil to achieve. Neil was still receiving oral chemotherapy and had managed to cycle the 200 miles in just five weeks. As a surprise to Neil we took the bike and his cycling gear down to Croyde.
After a delicious cooked breakfast prepared by David and Pippa, that we sat and enjoyed all together, we helped Neil in to his cycling attire and then in to the garden where we had set up balloons and banners. We had also made lots of posters and a map representing the distance Neil had gone.
The idea was that Neil would have riden his 200th mile in Croyde but we hadn't managed to persuade him to stop at 199 miles back at home without an explanation so we had Neil on the bike for some pictures to celebrate it none the less as he had only just dipped over the 200 mile mark at that point.
Neil also had the idea of boules so we purchased a set from the beach shop and set about playing. As always with any sport, Neil excelled. He was always the best at whatever sport he tried his hand at and boules was no exception. It was fantastic to see Neil having fun. It is times like this where you could forget that Neil wasn't very well. This of course is thanks to Paul's Fund for providing the opportunity to be away together but also because of Neil's personality. It was the desire to be doing something and having fun that meant we did all of this and more.
Whilst enjoying an afternoon relaxing at Paul's Place, Neil came up with the idea of a treasure hunt for us to all enjoy. Neil had us hide clues all around the Bed and Breakfast and had us hunting all over. Neil couldn't get away that easily so we made a little treasure hunt for him too so that he had to work through the clues and go wandering around. If the days events hadn't been tiring enough, Neil then wanted to make us all desserts!
Neil loved his independence and unfortunatley the illness took that away many times but he never stopped searching for it. By making the desserts for us all he showed to us and himself that he can still achieve the things he wants. Neil then went on to read out his list of achievemtns to date to us all. You can watch the video of Neil completing this here. He ends by saying 'made his family proud' and he certainly has done.
The weekend as a whole was very much enjoyed by all. It was a real shame to leave on the Monday morning and head back to normality. We are very grateful for Paul's Fund and in particualr David and Pippa, our hosts for the weekend for such an unforgettable time together. It is weekends like these which are the driving force behind establishing a charity in Neil's name as we have come to realsie how important time is together. If you would like to find out more information about Paul's Fund then please click here.