Proud Founders of Torbay Holiday Helpers Network

THHN - National Charity


The THHN was founded in the summer of 2009 by Torquay hotelier Luke Tillen after a chance viewing of an episode of Channel 4's 'Secret Millionaire'. The episode featured a small charity in the seaside town of Blackpool called 'Donna's Dream House'.  The charity was run by Len & Barbara Curtis who tragically lost their only daughter Donna, aged 20, to cancer.

During Donna's 4 year battle with the disease she encountered a great many terminally ill children and was astounded by their bravery and courage. Donna vowed her legacy would help them live a little more happily in the time they had left. Len & Barbara made it their labour of love to fulfil their little girl's only fairytale dream and set up the charity, where they offer free holidays to families who have seriously ill children www.donnasdreamhouse.co.uk

The programme followed a family with a little boy who was taking his final holiday before passing on some weeks after filming. Watching this absolutely saddened Luke to his core and made him realise just how lucky he was to be the father of his first child, Oliver. Luke was inspired by Len & Barbara's great work and realised that, being a hotel owner, he was in a position to be able to help families in a similar way.

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THHN Founder - Luke Tillen

Luke decided to contact the charity CCPA (Childhood Cancer Parents Alliance - formerly NACCPO) to see if they would like to offer a free holiday to a deserving family who they were helping.  They were delighted and soon found a family to take up Luke's very kind offer. Luke realised he was in contact with many other accommodation providers in the area and decided to contact them to see if they may like to offer the occasional free holiday when their bookings would allow. He then thought to contact the local tourist attractions to see if they could offer the families free entry whilst on their free holidays. Luke spent days on the telephone and sending emails out to all kinds of businesses whom he thought may have something to offer to these families who could really use a break and so the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network was born!

The idea of THHN has absolutely snowballed and it now sends families who have children with serious illnesses, bereaved families and families with children who have a terminally ill parent from all across the UK, on free holidays.  Not just to Torbay but to destinations across the country and abroad. The charity has grown at such a rapid speed thanks to the generosity of the local business community and businesses further afield.

When families come to Torbay on a THHN holiday they will be able to gain free entry to, and services from, well over 100 businesses to enhance their holidays. Families who stay in self catering accommodation will be supplied with a good selection of food hampers that are donated from local businesses.

Thanks to very kind fundraisers THHN is now able to offer families who are in financial difficulty grants to cover their travelling expenses. Invariably when a family has a seriously ill member one parent will have to leave their job to care full time for the sick child or parent and this has a huge financial impact on the family on top of what they are already dealing with.

What THHN does is not going to change any situation or cure any illnesses but it does give families something positive to focus on and acts as a good distraction from hospital appointments and situations families are faced with.  Most of all it gives families quality time together to build those all important memories that they will treasure forever.

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