Milne family together at Christmas

Louise Milne and Jackie Richardson outside the cottage at Sandsend
Louise Milne and Jackie Richardson outside the cottage at Sandsend

DALE Milne and his family will spend Christmas together thanks to the charity of a Sandsend couple, who they had never met before.

Louise and Ian Milne, Dale’s parents, had feared their son would be alone at Christmas as their house is not equipped to cope with his special needs and there are limited family facilities at James Cook Hospital University, where he is a patient.

Neither of Dale’s parents drive and with winter quickly closing in, bringing the risk of bad weather with it, there were fears Dale would be alone for his first Christmas since the accident, which has left him permanently paralysed from the neck downwards.

However, after reading about the family’s predicament in the Whitby Gazette, Sandsend couple Jackie and John Richardson realised they could help.

The couple own holiday cottages that are equipped to cope with disabled visitors and they were able to offer the Milne family a place to stay over Christmas, free of charge.

Louise said: “When she called me I was overwhelmed. I was on the bus and I just started crying.

“I was so happy that somebody who doesn’t know us would do something like that, I was absolutely amazed.”

Located at Raven Hill Farm in Sandsend, the holiday cottages are adapted to cater for disabled visitors, although a special hospital bed will need to be installed, with the

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most likely provider being Scarborough Hospital.

The cottage will also be decorated in complete Christmas fashion.

and Louise added: “It’s so difficult to make anywhere feel like home at the moment, so this is going to be a place where we’re all together, it’s going to be amazing.

“It means so much to us, we can actually spend the whole of Christmas together as a family in somewhere that’s not a clinical environment.

“It’s going to be a home from home.”

Following an emotional first meeting with the family to discuss the proposal, a representative of James Cook hospital visited the cottages to check their suitability.

With help from the tourist board, the cottages have been specially-adapted to fit the requirements of disabled guests, with facilities such as wheelchair-access, extra-wide doors, and a wetroom.

Owner Jackie Richardson said: “I saw the article in last Friday’s paper and I knew that particular cottage was empty over Christmas.

“I said to my husband ‘wouldn’t it be nice if they could spend Christmas together’ and the rest is history.

“We’re not doing it to promote our business, we’re doing it because now the family can spend some quality time together.

“They were quite overwhelmed, it’s something special for them.”