A FAMILY who is mourning the death of a beloved father and grandmother said they are ‘touched’ by community support shown at a Rhyl holiday park.
OVER £7,000 has been raised by local business, holiday homeowners, and staff at Lyons Robin Hood which has now been donated to the Cross family, from Ellesmere Port, in their time of need.
Jeff Dunning, aged just 38, was on holiday with his wife and ‘childhood sweetheart’ Vicki at the park where their family holiday home was located, when he died suddenly surrounded by his five children in August this year.
The family have described this catastrophic event as ‘shocking’ and ‘heart-breaking’, especially as the late Jeff lost his mother, Joyce Cross, only two weeks prior to this incident on August 20th following a battle with cancer.
The family were in the caravan when Jeff felt a sudden chest pain and had to lie down. Vicki attempted CPR before ambulance crews and an air ambulance arrived at the scene, however Jeff sadly died 45 minutes later.
Richard, who owns a caravan at Lyons Robin Hood, said that Christmas won’t be the same without his wife and son.
Staff and owners at the family-run holiday park were left devastated by the sad news of Jeff and Joyce’s passing and hosted a memorial night in October this year to celebrate their two wonderful lives.
The evening, which consisted of an auction, drinks reception, raffle, ‘Hood Bingo’, live entertainment, DJ and disco, and a surprise finale, was held in a bid to raise as many funds as possible for the Cross family in their hour of need.
Michelle Roberts, Lyons Robin Hood sales manager, said: “I can’t begin to think of what Vicki – and Richard – are going through. Losing anyone is difficult enough, but at such a young age is just devastating. To think of those poor children growing up without a father is just heart-breaking, and it’s just awful to think of them struggling to buy presents at Christmas.
“There’s not much anyone can do to replace two people who were as amazing as Jeff and Joyce. Jeff was always so happy and absolutely doted on his kids, and Joyce was an absolute superstar. They will be greatly missed.
“So we decided to do what we could and that was to show Richard and Vicki how much we care for them, and to rally around them as a community when they needed it most. A huge thank you is in order to our incredible sales team at Robin Hood, the Lyons marketing team, Martin Mugglestone from events, and most notably, all the owners who gave so generously on the evening with cash and raffle prizes.”
With the help of local businesses, owners at Lyons Robin Hood, staff from multiple departments at the 96-year-old holiday home site, and a generous donation from company director Geoff Lyons-Mound, a total of £7,712 was gifted to the Cross family earlier this month.
Beth Hughes, PR executive for the Lyons group who organised the event, said this feat would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of the community and local businesses. She said: “The response we received from the appeal was incredible – it goes to show just who is there for you in your time of need.
“Many high street businesses donated raffle prizes, such as The Little Cheesemonger, Blooming Gorgeous, Paris Boutique, Ann’s Scran Van, The Apple Cart, and businesses further afield such as Anglesey Golf Club, Go Below, Lyons Nant Hall, and many more.
“It was touching to see owners using their connections to organise items such as signed boxing gloves, signed football legend photos, and a huge thank you to Deckings Direct who helped facilitate a signed Welsh rugby shirt from Wales’ first team which went for £600 in our owners’ auction. DJ Keith was also incredible on the night, as was the support from Martin Mugglestone, events manager, who poured his heart and soul into this event.
“This was the epitome of ‘team effort’ and we cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity and heartfelt support.”
Richard expressed his gratitude to the team who went “above and beyond” on the evening, especially Louis Morgan, sales counsellor, who helped Richard and Joyce find their dream holiday home many years ago. A touching speech was made in memory of the two, with Louis reminiscing about how the family first came to the park, and Joyce’s larger-than-life character.
A tribute was made to Joyce’s love of music and films by the Lyons Holiday Parks team, in the form of a special choregraphed dance to her favourite song, Dirty Dancing’s ‘Time of My Life,’ which was also played at the funeral. The epic lift wowed crowds as Gavin Taylor, international project manager for the group, traded his builder boots for dancing shoes as he impersonated Patrick Swayze’s iconic moves. You can view the video of their amateur efforts here: link.
The £3,856, which was raised both at the charity night and during Lyons Robin Hood’s first ever Party in the Park festival this August, was doubled by Geoff Lyons-Mound who said the gesture was the least he could do “from one family to another at Christmas.”
Richard, who attended the event with Joyce’s sister Lorraine, said: “This will go such a long way this Christmas. We can’t thank everyone enough. The evening was brilliant, and it was what Joyce would have wanted – she was always the life and soul of the party.”