It started as a simple quest by a family-run holiday business to find and reward an unsung hero or heroine with a well-deserved free family break to the Yorkshire Dales. However, at the end of a four week search and an online public vote, the Deserve a Break campaign team at Cottage Holidays were so overwhelmed by the inspirational stories they heard that they decided to give the three runners-up a well-earned break as well as the overall winner.
In total 115 people across the UK were nominated by members of the public in the Deserve a Break competition and it was Neal Staley’s story in particular that moved over two and half thousand people to vote.
Following the tragic death of his 10-year-old daughter, Evey, in an accident caused by a drunk and drugged driver in 2013, Neal set up a road safety charity on the Island – Isle Drive Safely – Remember Evey. Working closely with the emergency services, the media, road safety experts, and local companies and councillors, Neal has campaigned ceaselessly to reduce the number of road traffic accidents on the island. As a result, bumper stickers now adorn many car windows, and “Bin Your Speed” stickers can be seen very clearly from the road side too on bin day all of which have helped raise much needed awareness and encouraged people to drive more safely.
Rather than have a “run of the mill” promotion, Cottage Holidays were looking to do something a little more worthwhile that their staff could all feel good about – and when the idea of the “Who Deserves a Break?” campaign came about, they decided to give it a go.
Using social media, email and by involving charities, they asked the public to nominate the unsung heroes in their lives; or those friends or family who have maybe had a hard time of late and could do with the real lift a free holiday would give them. The nominations for this first break flooded in to the website within hours and reading the stories of the nominees really put things into perspective for the campaign team.
When the public voted overwhelmingly for Neal Staley to go to the Yorkshire Dales, it was he who prompted the team at Cottage Holidays to think about giving the others a free break instead of the proposed money-off vouchers. Their mind was quickly made up – it was the right thing to do – so all four finalists will now be going on free breaks.
The other three unsung heroes of this first “Who Deserves a Break?” campaign were Lisa Weekes from Devon, Keely Long from Kent and Hayley Burwood from Norfolk.
Neal has said:
“A big thank you to everyone who very kindly voted for my family to have a break in the Yorkshire Dales. We are truly humbled by everyones support and incredibly kind words during the past two and a half years.
“We miss Evey incredibly and not a minute goes by when we’re not thinking of her, we carry on to make her proud. We are all looking forward to a break, which, as you can imagine is greatly needed.”
But that’s just the start. Cottage Holidays has decided to run the competition twice more in future – in the end giving away 12 cottage breaks to people whose good work for friends, family and their communities deserve recognition.
For further information about the next “Who Deserves a Break?” campaign please visit www.cottageholidays.co.uk/deserve-a-break.