Horsing around at charity fund-raiser

Matthew Patchett ahead of the Horse and Cart rally which will feature more than 100 riders in November to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House
Matthew Patchett ahead of the Horse and Cart rally which will feature more than 100 riders in November to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House
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Horses and carts on Blackpool’s streets are a common sight.

But next month will see them take part in something a little more unusual – and it is all to do with helping one brave cancer sufferer.

On November 16, more than 100 horses and carriages will take to the resort’s roads in convoy to raise thousands of pounds in the name of Matthew Patchett.

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.

Now fund-raisers, led by Blackpool woman Melissa Dean, who got involved after hearing Matthew’s story, hope to raise thousands of pounds to help the charity – with an idea inspired by the many carriages which take to Blackpool’s Promenade throughout the year.

Melissa, who is organising the event alongside partner Ashley Whitaker, said: “We have raised £1,000 so far but hope to raise much, much more.

“We’ve been told people are visiting from East Sussex, London, Newcastle, Manchester and Cheshire – it has really captured people’s imaginations.

“The plan is to set off in convoy with buckets and shakers and collect cash.”

The route will start on Amy Johnson Way in South Shore, before moving on to Starr Gate and the Promenade and then coming back.

More than 100 riders have volunteered to attend the event, which will raise money for the popular charity.

The Baines School pupil was diagnosed with leukaemia four 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.

Now Matthew’s family hope the support of Blackpool’s residents will give a huge funding boost to the charity.

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

“We are amazed by the amount of money being raised. 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.”

Melissa said more people are welcome to join the convoy, but must use a horse and carriage.

The group will leave Amy Johnson Way at noon on November 16.