Charities offer free Blackpool trips in Paul's and Donna's memories

Two kindred campaigning charities - one in Derry, the other in Blackpool - have teamed up to send sick children and their families and parents who have lost a child through illness on free holidays to the Lancashire resort.

The collaboration is a link up between the Donna’s Dream House Charity in Blackpool and Paul’s Campaign, which was set up in memory of late Derryman, Paul Coyle, who passed away from sarcoma at the age of just 26 in 2011.

Paul’s father Francie Coyle has set up the initiative with Len and Barbara Curtis, the parents of the late Donna Curtis who succumbed to cancer on New Year’s Day in 1996, aged just 20.

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Mr. Coyle said the partnership was a marriage made in heaven.

“When Len heard my story and I heard his story we decided we wanted to do something to honour their legacy.

“Len said that the two of them could be going out with one another up there, you never know,” joked Mr. Coyle.

Under the new partnership Mr. Coyle and the Mr. and Mrs. Curtis are offering children with serious or life-limiting illnesses free holidays to Donna’s Dream House, a Disney-style resort in Blackpool.

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Parents recovering from the death of a child can also apply for breaks away at the Snowdrop Centre, which is located right next door.

“It’s a good collaboration. You know yourself with a cancer diagnosis or if somebody has passed away, depression sets in and this is about allowing people that special family time away,” said Mr. Coyle, who remarked on how moved he had been when he first heard Donna’s story.

Whenever she died Donna left a red box at her bedside.

It contained three wishes: of love for her family; of love for her young husband; and for the alleviation of the suffering of terminally ill children.

“She had a brain tumour and passed away when she was 20. She left a box and there were three wishes in it. The third wish was that they would set up a place like Disneyworld for sick children. You need to be there to see the magic of it. It’s there because of her legacy.”

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The charities will send at least eight local families to Blackpool this year, a major new undertaking alongside Paul’s Campaign’s core mission of raising awareness about sarcoma cancer and helping those affected.

Paul’s Campaign will be dealing with applications from local families for holidays at Donna’s Dream House and the Snowdrop Centre.

Contact: [email protected] or visit the charity’s Facebook page.