Fife holiday lodge for families affected by childhood cancer marks its first year

Dr Rosalie Wilkie (left) with Biz Logan.
Dr Rosalie Wilkie (left) with Biz Logan.

“We are so grateful to be given this opportunity and the memories we have made here are priceless. The generosity shown to us cannot be expressed in words. Once your family has been touched by cancer it overwhelms everything” ...

... just one of the appreciative entries in the visitors’ book at the TCCL Lodge, a holiday home opened specially for children and young people with cancer and their families.

Some intensive fund-raising went into achieving the half-a-million needed to transform what was an unassuming house in a quiet St Andrews street into a beautiful holiday destination where families with a child affected by cancer can enjoy quality time to gether .

The lodge has just marked its first anniversary and since its opening some 27 families have stayed there.

“I cannot quite believe that we are already talking about the first anniversary of the TCCL lodge opening,” said Dr Rosalie Wilkie, chairman of the TCCL committee.

“This year has gone amazingly well. I am pleased that the lodge has been used such a lot in its first year and I expect that it will become more and more popular as families spread the good news about their holiday in St Andrews.

“We have received such positive feedback from the families. Fundraising is continuing mainly through the incredible enthusiasm of local people and businesses. We are very grateful for the continued support of everyone in Tayside and north east Fife.”

The lodge is one of only two facilities of its kind in Scotland, the other being Calum’s Cabin on the Isle of Bute.

It caters for cancer and leukaemia patients up to the age of 18 and occasionally for bereaved families who need a break from the ir day-to-day lives.

In some cases, the holiday is made even more precious because it will be the last the family will spend together.

It’s totally free to stay for up to a week, and a number of local businesses offer their services and products free of charge too.

For example, families are given free entry to St Andrews Botanic Garden and Craigtoun Park as well as free ice cream from Jannetta’s.

A welcome pack of essential groceries is provided and the families don’t even have to pay for their gas or electricity.

As far as possible in the circumstances, the aim is to relieve families of stress and worry, so they can enjoy each other’s company in comfortable, beautifully-equipped surroundings.

The committee did all the interior design work themselves and appear to have thought of everything – from the play house in the garden for smaller children to the chill-out room complete with Netflix for older family members.

There’s even a shed housing bikes of various sizes.

The house, which has four bedrooms, can sleep nine in total and although it’s wheelchair-friendly the disabled facilities are discreet.

Its location was also chosen because Ninewells Hospital is easily accessible should an emergency arise.

“Holidays are often sacrificed because of financial difficulties or because it’s too hard to find somewhere suitable,” says Dr Wilkie.

“ But enjoying a holiday together can make a world of difference to a family going through the trauma of having a child diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia.”

TCCL – Tayside Children with Cancer or Leukaemia – was founded in 1994 with the aim of providing support for families with children diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia.

Such a diagnosis creates significant stress for families, who can struggle physically, practically, emotionally, and financially with the intensive, intrusive treatment regime and the inevitable disruption it brings to family life. More often than not, one parent may have to give up work to care for the child in hospital - at a time when they are faced with significant extra expenditure.

This is where TCCL steps in, offering financial support such as travel grants so parents can get to and from treatment if their child is in hospital away from home and heating grants to keep children warm during the winter months .

The charity will even pay for driving lessons should a parent need them in order to make it easier to get to hospital.

TCCL also organises days out for the children and their families to try to restore some normality to family life, and every year it hosts a teddy bears’ picnic, Halloween party and a visit to a pantomime .

The opening of the TCCL Lodge on October 15 last year was the realisation of a long-held vision for the charity – and the culmination of over three years of hard work and fund-raising .

The house has been welcomed by the neighbours in Horseleys Park and touched the hearts of businesses and individuals throughout Tayside and north east Fife, who continue to support its estimated £20,000 a year running costs.

At present, priority is given to families in the Tayside, Angus, Perth and north east Fife areas, but applications from other parts of the country will be considered too.Families with children diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia are told about the help on offer from TCCL during their visits to Ninewells.

For more information or to find out how to donate, visit www.tccl.org.uk