Morecambe mum’s bid to help pay cancer family’s term-time holiday fine

Ella, Oliver, Ava and Joseph McDermott on holiday in Tenerife.
Ella, Oliver, Ava and Joseph McDermott on holiday in Tenerife.

A Morecambe mum is helping to raise £800 to pay fines a couple were landed with after taking their children on a term-time holiday after their mum beat cancer.

Laura Richardson set up the crowdfunding page after being touched by Katie and Darren McDermott’s story in the Lancaster Guardian.

Laura Richardson has set up a GoFundMe page to help the McDermotts.

Laura Richardson has set up a GoFundMe page to help the McDermotts.

Her page has so far raised more than £500 for the family.

As reported in the Guardian, Katie and Darren were fined £788 fo taking a holiday during term-time last December after being refused permission.

Katie had been fighting breast cancer for the last year, having undergone a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.

The family was gifted a week in Tenerife by friends to help them over the ordeal of the last 12 months.

Katie and Darren McDermott.

Katie and Darren McDermott.

But Central Lancaster High School denied Joseph, 14, and Oliver, 12, permission to take time off school, saying it was not “exceptional circumstances” – just two days before they were due to fly.

Their five-year-old sister Ava was given permission by Christ Church Primary School.

Youngest child Ella, four, is currently at nursery.

“I dont know this family, but thought it would be a kind thing to try and show support locally by setting this page up to help raise money for the family,” said Laura, who has two daughters and a stepdaughter.

“I like to do something good each month, whether it’s something big or small, a ‘random act of kindness’, something I have done for the past year now.

“I think by doing this, hopefully they will do something nice for someone else they dont know, and the kindness carries on, making the world seem a much nicer place.”

As well as spreading the page among friends and family, Laura has posted it across numerous public Facebook pages in the hope that kind-hearted people will support it.

The 35-year-old said: “I hope more and more people will be kind enough to donate what they can. Even if it’s just £1, it all helps reach my target of £800, and helps a local family get back on their feet.

“I am so grateful, as are the family, to each and every person that has taken the time to read the story, and for kindly donating what they can.

“I read Darren and Katie’s story and it really pulled at my heart strings.

“I thought to myself, if this was me, and I had been suffering from cancer, all I’d want would be to spend time with my children and for the emotional and physical pain to be taken away.

“Katie must be such a brave lady to keep going for her children; like all parents we keep things normal for them, hold our head up high and get on with things to protect them.

“The last thing anyone in this situation needed was for the school to deny them the right to take their children away without penalty.

“After everything this family had been through, having debt or money worries trying to think how they would find the money to pay this fine and court fees would be the tip of the iceberg.

“My personal opinion is that the school have been unfair to this family in their time of need, and unsure what the exceptional circumstances to waiver the penalty would be?!

“I understand that the government and schools have rules to adhere to, but surely the school could have made an exception in this particular case?!

“I think the general consensus is that the school may have been unfair here from comments made public on Facebook, and unfortunately this is not showing the school in a good light.”

Laura’s fundraising page can be found here