Saddling up to help brave Matthew

The Charity Horse and Cart Rally in support of Matthew Patchett which travelled the length of the Fylde coast to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House

The Charity Horse and Cart Rally in support of Matthew Patchett which travelled the length of the Fylde coast to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House

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Blackpool’s Promenade is famous for its horses and carts, but a special charity rally saw the tourist hotspot almost grind to a halt as more than 150 turned out to honour one brave boy.

The Golden Mile was overtaken by dozens of carts of all shapes and sizes on Sunday as riders took part in a charity convoy to support cancer sufferer Matthew Patchett.

Matthew Patchett at the Charity Horse and Cart Rally which travelled the length of the Fylde coast to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House

Matthew Patchett at the Charity Horse and Cart Rally which travelled the length of the Fylde coast to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House

Matthew, 11, from Poulton, has leukaemia and is being treated at Manchester Children’s Hospital.

His treatment involves visits to Ronald McDonald House, which provides a free home away from home for families with sick children.

After hearing Matthew’s story, fund-raisers, including Blackpool woman Melissa Dean, got involved.

Melissa, who organised the event alongside Ash Whitaker, said the rally had been a tremendous success.

She added: “It was brilliant. Everyone said it was the biggest drive to date.

“Some of the locals stopped in awe.”

Ash added: “It was a really good day. We had a really good turn-out. The final count in terms of carts and yokes was 164 – our target had been 100. It just smashed it.

“Matthew was riding along in a Cinderella cart near the front and had a great time.

“The event just showed people’s generosity.”

Ash added the pair had hoped to raise £1,500 during the rally and had yet to count donations – but hoped to beat their target. Riders started on Amy Johnson Way in South Shore, before moving on to Starr Gate and the Promenade and then coming back to Squires Gate.

Dozens of riders from East Sussex, London, Newcastle, Manchester and Cheshire volunteered to help the Baines School pupil who was diagnosed with leukaemia six weeks ago and travels to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

While there, his family, including mum Debbie and dad Norman, stay at Ronald McDonald house.

It costs £25 for one family for one night at the home, as well as £175 for one family for one week.

An average family stay - around 20 days – can cost up to £500.

Matthew’s family said the support of Blackpool’s residents would give a huge funding boost to the charity.

Mum Debbie said: “Matthew was very excited about people coming from all over the country.

“He has T-type leukaemia and he is having chemotherapy at Manchester Children’s Hospital. They are not too sure what stage he is at in terms of treatment, but they have given a very positive outlook.”