'Stunning' donation made to Dream-A-Way by HMS Defender

HMS Defender's Commanding Officer Vincent Owen and Mike Rock, chairman of Friends of Dream-A-Way, Sidmouth

HMS Defender's Commanding Officer Vincent Owen and Mike Rock, chairman of Friends of Dream-A-Way, Sidmouth - Credit: Contributed

The Devon charity Dream-A-Way, which has a Friends group in Sidmouth, has received a donation of more than £2,000 from HMS Defender. 

The chairman of Friends of Dream-A-Way Sidmouth, Michael Rock, attended the presentation on Thursday, January 20. 

The charity, providing holidays and outings for Devon people with disabilities, has been supported by the Royal Navy warship’s company since 2009.  

HMS Defender was at sea for most of 2021 as part of the global deployment known as Operation FORTIS.  

Throughout the deployment the ship’s crew held fundraising activities in aid of Dream-A-Way, and after their return to the UK in December, they presented a cheque for £2205.32 to the charity. 

The ship’s Commanding Officer Vincent Owen and Lt Rachael Graveson made the official presentation to Dream-A-Way's chairman Jeff Merrett MBE, who described the amount raised during the deployment as ‘stunning’. 

Lt Rachael Graveson, Dream-A-Way chairman Jeff Merrett, HMS Defender Commanding Officer Vincent Owen and Mike Rock

Lt Rachael Graveson, Dream-A-Way chairman Jeff Merrett, HMS Defender Commanding Officer Vincent Owen and Mike Rock - Credit: Contributed

Lt Graveson said: "Most of the money was raised by a weekly lottery held throughout the deployment in the wardroom - this was organised by Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) R Ellis.  

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“There was also a pay-to-enter beard growing competition that was judged by the female members of the wardroom at the end of the deployment, won by Lt C Osborn." 

Jeff Merrett said: "Dream-A-Way continue to be deeply honoured by the support we receive from all on board HMS Defender and send our sincere thanks to the Commander and all the ship's company for their generous support. 

“Thanks too to the Commander and Lt Graveson for presenting this amazing cheque to Dream-A-Way. 

“Dream-A-Way are extremely proud of this affiliation and enjoy working with the Commander and all the ship's company.” 

He said the money will go towards providing luxury breaks at the Devon Cliffs Holiday Park in Exmouth for people with disabilities or life-limiting illnesses and their families. Dream-A-Way owns several holiday homes in the park, some of which are fully adapted for wheelchair users with wider doorways, lowered kitchen units and wheel-in wet rooms. 

Friends of Dream-A-Way Sidmouth is supported by many local people and businesses, who have taken part in sponsored fundraising activities or hosted special events to raise money for the charity.