A former R.A.B.I beneficiary has raised over £13,000 for two charities that helped him when he was ill and unable to work.
Peter Holliday, a 53-year-old self-employed agricultural contractor from Silloth in Cumbria, was diagnosed with throat cancer in February 2015. His first thoughts were not about his illness or his long-term future. It was how would he and wife Ali pay the bills while he was undergoing surgery and radiotherapy?
Peter said: “The disease itself didn’t really faze me, although it upset everyone around me. It was the financial side of things that really bothered me.”
As well as a seven-hour operation, Peter went through 36 sessions of radiotherapy, and to make his situation worse, he discovered his insurance did not cover him.
R.A.B.I and Macmillan Cancer Support helped him throughout his treatment – with R.A.B.I clearing some domestic bills and covering the costs of hospital travel. Peter said: “You’ve no idea how much it meant to me to see a cheque arrive through the door, it was such a weight off my mind. All I could see was a heap of bills on the table. I honestly thought ‘this is the end of the business that I’ve spent 25 years building’.”
Despite everything Peter never contemplated giving up work. “I’m someone used to working 70 or 80 hours per week,” he said. “I didn’t want to sit there feeling miserable and sorry for myself, so if I could physically get out of the house and onto the sprayer then I could work. Someone else could always fill it up for me so all I had to do was sit in the seat. There was only a fortnight when I couldn’t do anything.
“A couple of months ago a surgeon said to me ‘I think you might be able to start light duties again’ and the Macmillan nurse alongside me just burst out laughing. She said ‘he’s never actually stopped!’”
Peter is grateful for all the support he received through the dark days. In April, his wife Ali and her friend Dawn Williams helped him organise a charity night to raise money for both R.A.B.I and Macmillan. There were 88 lots in the auction of promises, which raised an incredible £13,070.
Peter is also going to help man R.A.B.I’s stand at the Skelton Show on July 4 and he says he’s happy to tell his story and spread the word about R.A.B.I to anyone who is interested. He’ll be taking his tractor along too.
“I really don’t know what we would have done without R.A.B.I and Macmillan,” he added.
“It’s not just about the money. Every claim form is like a book so to have someone who knows what they are doing take care of all that stuff was such a huge relief.”
Pictured above: Peter Holliday, front left, with wife Ali and friend Dawn Williams. Back, Sandra Hodson (Macmillan Cancer Support) and Nicki Quayle, former R.A.B.I trustee, who is from Cumbria.