A young boy has smashed his £50k target for a hospice by spending more than 200 days sleeping in a tent given to him by a dying friend.
Max Woosey, 10, was inspired after his friend and neighbour, Rick, gave him a tent shortly before he died in February.
Rick, who was 74, told Max to have an adventure with it, so he decided to camp out in the garden of his family home in Braunton, Devon.
Max has already stayed in the tent for more than 200 days – and by doing so has now raised £58,000 and counting for North Devon Hospice.
He said: “It feels amazing, it’s unbelievable really. I’ve raised around £70,000 including Gift Aid.
“It will be used for equipment and stuff like that to help other people and people who really need it.”
Max wanted to raise money for the hospice as they cared for Rick, who died from cancer, and his wife, Sue, in their final days.
The schoolboy spent nearly all his time in the tent, only coming inside for home-schooling lessons, to have dinner, or to wash.
He added: “They helped my friends Rick and Sue who unfortunately passed away, but they don’t just help the people who are ill they help the family and friends get through it as well.
“I think it’s 100 times more important, because they’re getting through the tough time and getting support.
“Rick gave me a tent and said he wanted me to have an adventure, and that’s what I’m doing.
“It’s fun but very hard, the weather, the wildlife, they prove a massive challenge. I love the outdoors, it’s amazing.”
Max began his adventure on March 28, and has lived in the tent ever since and hasn’t given up yet – he’s hoping to go for a whole year.
But unfortunately Rick’s tent hasn’t lasted as long as Max as it lost it’s waterproofing and he is now on his fifth tent.
Max’s mum, Rachael, said: “It’s mad, he’s now on £60,000 I think now. It’s utterly mad.
“It’s absolutely incredible, it’s bonkers – he set the goal of £100 and we thought we’d have to top him up to that.
“We thought family and friends would give him some money, and we’d finish it off and it’d be alright.
“There’s been many local donations, but it came from further afield too – I think there’s something in the story which has touched people.
“Most of it has come in over the past few days, on Friday he was on £12,000 and he stuck there for ages then Leo from the hospice put a post out and it’s grown from there.
“It’s coming in so quickly now it’s mad. Every time we refresh the page it’s gone up.”
Max lives in the family home with his mum, a 48-year-old accountant, and his dad Mark, a 52-year-old Royal Marine.
Rachael said that Max get’s his outdoorsy nature from his dad, and was always encouraged to explore by his friend, Rick.
She added: “Rick was lovely, he was a real outdoors person. He was either on the water each day or out climbing.
“He died in February and last September he knew he was dying so did a trip to the dolomites to do one last climb.
“That kind of summed him up because he loved being outside.
“He never had an office job, he always worked teaching climbing and outdoors skills.
“Max loved the fact that Rick knew so much about the outdoors. Rick was 74 and Max was 10, and the thing in common was the love of outdoors and camping.
“If Rick came round Max would talk to him about camping and what he’d been doing in the Cubs.
“Rick lived his life doing what made him happy, rather than a more conventional lifestyle and that appealed to Max.
“Rick was very kind, very honest and direct – and there was something Max really liked about that.
“He didn’t talk to him like a ten year old, but like someone who liked camping and the outdoors.
“Unfortunately the tents only last about ten weeks when they’re outside all the time so the Tent Rick gave him is no longer waterproof so he can’t use that.
“We’ve got through five tents so far, and he’ll get through a few more yet.”
All the money raised will be going to North Devon Hospice, who have had their fundraising channels cut off by the ongoing panedmic.
Rachael added: “It’s all going to North Devon Hospice, we don’t see any of the money.
“The hospice helped so much when Rick was dying and enabled him to die at home, which is what he wanted.
“I’ve never been involved in any end of life care, but the hospice treated him wish such kindness.
“The fact that Max has been able to help them at a time when all fundraising has been cut, because of Covid, is just amazing.
“Even the hospice shops have been closed, they rely on that money – I think Max has raised a little bit of awareness that these charities are still there and working, but they’ve have their funds cut so much.
“Max will carry on until he reaches a year, he’s determined and I’ve now agreed to it on the agreement that he stops as soon as he stops enjoying it.
“I think he’s fairly feral already after 200 nights, it might be a struggle to get him back inside.”
For company, Max has been spending time with the family dog, Digby – a nine-year-old labradoodle.
Rachael added: “Digby goes out and keeps him company sometimes, but he’s a bit of a wimp so doesn’t sleep outside. Max is braver than the dog.”
Max also has two sisters, Abigail, 24, and Isobel, 21, who no longer live at the family home.