Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper has officially opened a charity caravan at Berwick Holiday Centre.
The Hull City stopper donated £10,000 towards the Toma Fund’s ‘Some Time of Our Own’ Appeal.
The money was raised at Harper’s testimonial match when a Newcastle XI lined up against AC Milan at St James’ Park in September.
Last Wednesday, he got the chance to meet the charity’s representatives and some of the families who will benefit.
He said: “After my testimonial I wanted to be actively involved in seeing what the charities do with the money.
“I am still involved in the Newcastle United Foundation and Great North Children’s Hospital and through that got to know about the Toma Fund.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea to buy a caravan for the young people in the north east and Cumbria who are unfortunate enough to be suffering from cancer or are in recovery. Giving them the chance to enjoy a short holiday in a fantastic facilitiy like this will be very welcome.”
Harper, who stayed at Berwick Holiday Centre himself as a nine-year-old during the Miners’ Strike, added: “It’s a stunning bit of coastline, especially when the sun shines, and I hope the families who stay in the caravan here will enjoy themselves.”
First to try it out will be 16-year-old Ben Murdoch from Gateshead who is recovering from a bone marrow transplant and is currently taking his GCSEs.
His mum, Liz, said: “This is a great place to be able to come to, especially after what we’ve been through.
“Ben had a bone marrow transplant in December and was isolated between August 5 and January 26 so the opportunity to get away from the realities of cancer and hospital is a good one.”
The Toma Fund set out to raise £66,763 for the caravan to offer a respite break to families with children undergoing cancer treatment.
The charity was set up by Dave and Andrea Thompson from Newcastle in memory of their son, Jordan, who died in 2007 from acute myeloid leukaemia aged just 15.
Since then it has raised £400,000 to support the build of the teenage cancer unit at Newcastle RVI and the young adults ward at the Freeman.
The project could provide respite for up to 42 families a year for five years. Funding will cover the purchase of the caravan, a specially adapted wheelchair ramp and running costs.
Andrea said: “It’s going to be available to families with children going through cancer treatment, those recovering from cancer treatment, those with terminal cancer and bereaved parents who have lost a child.
“Jordan wanted to make a difference. He played for Newcastle United’s academy and that’s how Steve Harper got involved.
“We chose Berwick Holiday Centre because it was a nice, well-kept site which has lots of facilities, is close to the beach and town centre, still relatively close to Newcastle RVI and close to Berwick Infirmary should there be a dire emergency.”
Visit www.tomafund.org to find out more about the charity or to make a donation.