Homes with Heart helps seriously ill children or parents by bringing together families with home-owners throughout the UK, enabling them to donate a week’s holiday. Being a small charity run out of the family kitchen, Homes with Heart gets to know the families and the owners so that both their needs can be met with ease.
Classic Cottages, which markets around 700 cottages in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, has been helping Homes with Heart by encouraging its owners to sign up to the scheme, providing a complimentary one-week stay which is matched to a suitable family by the charity.
One family that has benefitted from Classic Cottages’ partnership with Homes with Heart are the Coombs from Wells, Somerset - Karen and Clive and their daughters Alice and Carla stayed at Coombe Barn near Launceston in June 2011. 10-year old Alice has a rare debilitating illness called Sanfilippo syndrome.
Karen Coombs said: “Our time away at Coombe Barn was absolutely lovely, and arranging it through Homes with Heart made it so easy and hassle-free. It was hard to choose where to go, but we settled on Coombe Barn because of the lovely position and great facilities.
“The Rowe family were so friendly and accommodating, when we arrived there was a welcome note and homemade cake waiting for us, and it’s the little touches like that which made it special. The swimming pool was brilliant for Alice, as her illness prevents her doing a lot of things, but she really enjoys swimming as it takes all the weight off her muscles.
“It doesn’t sound like a big thing, but one of the highlights for me was going for a walk to the river with Carla and one of the sheepdogs who kept trying to herd us like sheep, nuzzling our arms – we don’t have a dog of our own, so it was nice having the company for the week! It was great just having the chance to get away and relax, so I’m really grateful to the Rowes for letting us stay and Homes with Heart for helping to make it happen.”
Coombe Barn is a three-bedroom cottage on Kingscombe Farm, a working farm in a secluded location on the edge of the Tamar Valley. The property can sleep up to six people and has the use of an indoor swimming pool and games room.
Owner Adrian Rowe said: “We wouldn’t have known about the Homes with Heart scheme if Classic Cottages hadn’t brought it to our attention, but when they told us about it we were keen to sign up. I feel like if you’re in a privileged position it’s important to use what you have to help other people who need it – we’ve now had two families stay because of Homes with Heart and it’s great to know that it really makes a difference to them.”
Anthony Skitt, Managing Director of Classic Cottages added: “Several families have enjoyed the generosity of owners who offer holiday accommodation through Homes with Heart. I would actively encourage holiday home owners to give some thought to supporting this charity because I know a break away from routine can make a huge, huge difference to families facing an uncertain future.”
To be eligible to take part in the scheme, families must be referred by a healthcare professional who has known them for more than a year. The Coombs were referred to Homes with Heart by Suzanne Heayns from Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
Suzanne said: “Some of the families we work with really struggle with day-to-day living, and looking after a child or young person with a life-limiting disability can be a real hard slog. A few days away where they can forget, for a while at least, about the future and what it may hold and just enjoy quality family time together in relaxed and peaceful surroundings, without worrying about the costs can be a real boost and bring families closer together.
Classic Cottages is a specialist self-catering holiday lettings agency based in Helston, Cornwall, employing 30 staff. For every holiday arranged for Homes with Heart, Classic donates an additional £50 to the charity.
Holiday property owners wishing to get involved in the Homes with Heart scheme should contact Tanya Pascoe at Classic Cottages, on 01326 555500. For more information about Homes with Heart, please visit www.homeswithheart.co.uk.
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