Hartlepool EuroMillions winners donate second holiday caravan to town's young carers

EuroMillions winners Frances and Patrick Connolly have surprised young carers by donating a second respite caravan for them to go and enjoy a welcome break.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 12:04 pm

The Connollys’ PFC Trust charity, created to help local communities after they won £114.9m in 2019, initially raised £50,000 as part of its UChangeLives25 fundraising campaign earlier this year to provide one holiday home for Hartlepool Carers and Stockton’s Eastern Ravens to use.

Mrs Connolly has now stunned both groups during the current Carers’ Week, which continues until June 13, by purchasing a second caravan at Parkdean Resorts’ Cresswell Towers Holiday Park, in Druridge Bay, Northumberland.

The former schoolteacher, who still considers Hartlepool to be her home town after living here for around a quarter of a century before the couple’s win, said: “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Hartlepool, Teesside and beyond.

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Hartlepool family Darren and Janet Cooper with children Abbey, 16, Freddie, 13 and, front, Alex , nine, with the keys for one of the Hartlepool-based PFC Trust's respite caravans at Cresswell Towers, in Northumberland.

"To put such an effort of time, money and support into this at such a difficult time is inspiring and I am proud to have been a small part of the endeavour.

“Patrick and I always intended to buy a second caravan but kept that quiet so as not to overshadow the most impressive part of the challenge which was the monumental effort made by the PFC Trust and all its supporters and friends.

"We thank everyone involved in every way from the bottom of our hearts.”

The new PFC Trust respite caravans at Cresswell Towers. Hartlepool family Darren and Janet Cooper are pictured with children Abbey, 16, Freddie, 13 and Alex , 9. Also pictured are Hartlepool Carers, from left, Roxanne Boagey, Christine Fewster and Paula Fewster with Cresswell Towers' Chris Smith.

But the Connollys have followed that up by significantly contributing towards the second caravan so both Eastern Ravens and Hartlepool Carers have one each and can be shared when required.

A selection of young carers and their families have also visited the caravans to see what they will be like to stay in.

Hartlepool Carers’ chief executive Christine Fewster said: “#UC25 is a legacy that will support many young carers and their families across Hartlepool and Stockton for years to come.

“The dedication from our community in raising £50,000 is something we will always remember and be proud of.

Frances and Patrick Connolly celebrate their 2019 EuroMillions win.

“We launched the appeal in one of the toughest times our community has ever seen, but this did not stop people supporting and making the dream happen.

“We are also extremely grateful to the PFC Trust and Frances. Without them we would not have the opportunity to enable young people to get a break from their caring role.

“Hartlepool Carers are really excited to start creating positive memories for young people of Hartlepool.”

Parkdean Resorts has worked with the young carers’ groups since Easter to find the perfect spot for the caravans.

Inside one of the new caravans for the families of Hartlepool Carers.

Cresswell Towers was deemed to be the ideal location given it is still in the North-East.

Cresswell Towers’ sales manager designate, Chris Smith, said: “We’re delighted that Hartlepool Carers and Eastern Ravens have chosen Cresswell Towers.

“The brand new three-bedroom holiday homes will provide guaranteed comfort for carers and their families to enjoy some well-deserved respite at our beautiful park, while they can also take advantage of the wide range of activities and facilities on offer.”

For further details on the work of the PFC Trust, go to www.thepfctrust.org.

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