On Saturday 29th June 2019, members of the ‘Chance Encounter’ team were delighted to be able to present to Hope for Tomorrow a cheque for the sum of £26,540. This amount will continue to rise as DVD and CD sales continue through various initiatives. Once again, the team would like to thank everyone who has given their support to this wonderful project.


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The world premiere of a film in Minehead raised more than £26,500 for cancer charity Hope for Tomorrow.


Watched on Saturday (May 18 2019) by a sell-out 400-strong audience at Minehead’s Regal Theatre, Chance Encounter’ is set in the late 1950s and is a gentle love story about a young couple who meet on a train one summer.


Using a combination of drone footage of what 1950s travellers would have seen during their journey, stations and footage of the West Somerset Railway line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead as well as local actors and actresses and an army of extras, the world premiere was the culmination of a three-year project.


Involving steam railway experts and enthusiasts, local script writer and production director Lynn Pearson, Wiltshire-based film makers Angela and Roger Calcutt and members of the Minehead-based Barnstormers theatre group, whose chairman until her death in early 2019 was Hilary May, a Hope for Tomorrow ambassador, ‘Chance Encounter’ was shot on location in and around west Somerset in summer 2018.


The film was the result of an idea developed by Geoffrey Bray, executive chairman of Corsham-based fleet management company Fleet Service Great Britain and a patron of Tetbury-headquartered Hope for Tomorrow, and the charity’s founder, Christine Mills, who died in 2018.


The Tetbury-headquartered charity is dedicated to bringing cancer treatment closer to patients’ homes by providing a Mobile Cancer Care Unit (MCCU) - previously known as a Mobile Chemotherapy Unit - to every oncology centre within the UK. There are currently 12 Units operating across the UK, which last year treated more than 14,000 people.


More than 160 people arrived for the film screening having travelled and enjoyed lunch on a West Somerset Railway steam train - the ‘Chance Encounter’. The train including the historic Quantock Belle dining coaches travelled along the restored 22-mile West Somerset Railway line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back, through the beautiful Quantock Hills recreating the wonderful, nostalgic atmosphere of the great days of steam. The remainder of the Regal Theatre audience bought tickets for the premiere.


Mr Bray, ‘Chance Encounter’ project chairman and a steam railway enthusiast, said: “The energy and commitment of all the people to see the project through to fruition was very humbling. There was huge volunteer involvement from across the community, which is now looking to use the film as a catalyst for raising greater awareness of Hope for Tomorrow and raising more money to fund additional mobile chemotherapy units.


“Cancer touches almost everyone in one way or another. Following the premiere we have had a phenomenal response from local people wanting to organise their own showings as the focal point of fundraising for Hope for Tomorrow.”


He added: “The screening was the culmination of a fantastic day that started for many of the audience with a trip down memory lane on a steam train from Bishops Lydeard with lunch - and tea on the return journey - prepared and cooked by chefs from Claire’s Kitchen, based in Wootton Courtenay, and Hywel Jones, the Michelin starred executive chef at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa.”


Huge support for the ‘Chance Encounter’ project came from the south west stores of giant supermarket Tesco, which raised £7,000. The company’s Minehead store sponsored drinks served on the train journey by employee. Additionally, the family of Mrs May successfully bid £700 in a silent auction for the unique ‘Chance Encounter’ steam train headboard.


Each bespoke MCCU costs £265,000 to build and maintain for the first four years of its life and continues to be owned and maintained by the charity. Hope for Tomorrow also provides each operating Trust with a nurses’ support car, which allows nurses to travel freely between the oncology centre and the daily treatment location of Hope for Tomorrow’s MCCU.


Since the launch of the first MCCU in 2007, the charity has saved patients a total of more than two million miles and more than 265,000 hours of travel and waiting time. Fundraising is crucial as it costs £40 per patient treatment with each unit treating up to 20 patients a day.

Copies of the ‘Chance Encounter’ DVD can be ordered HERE