OPINION: Max Woosey's 'remarkable journey' - Stephen Roberts

North Devon Gazette

Every amazing journey starts with a humble beginning; seizing a seemingly insignificant opportunity which might just lead to something remarkable.Â

Almost everyone reading this will have heard of Max Woosey, the North Devon lad who shot to international prominence by camping in his tent for over 500 consecutive nights (and counting). Max has just been honoured with a Pride of Britain award, reserved for only the most inspirational members of the public, an honour he richly deserves.

He spent last weekend rubbing shoulders with celebrities at a star-studded ceremony, with his award presented by his lifelong hero, Bear Grylls. However, Max’s incredible story indeed started with rather innocuous beginnings.Â

It began when North Devon Hospice’s care team knocked on the door of his neighbour, Rick. The hospice cares for dozens of people every single day, so who could have known that this moment would be life-changing for Max, and so significant for the hospice too?Â

Rick had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and, like so many people, wanted to remain at home throughout his illness. Rick didn’t have any family locally, so neighbours and friends were providing as much support as they could. But it was tough. Looking after someone with advanced cancer is a specialism, and so our Hospice to Home team would come along each day to support those kind-hearted souls who were looking after Rick. One of those helpers was Rachael Woosey, Max’s mum. They had befriended Rick as he lived next door and she was determined to help him stay at home where he felt most comfortable. She says that without the Hospice to Home team, it simply would not have been possible.Â

This insight into what North Devon Hospice’s care actually looks like was an eye-opener, especially for the Woosey family who saw up close how hospice care teams can make such a difference to a person’s quality of life. Many people think of North Devon Hospice as simply a building where people are looked after, but 90% of our care happens out in the community, in people’s own homes. Our specialist community nursing teams help to keep pain and other symptoms under control and keep people comfortable in their own homes with personal care, around the clock if needs be.Â

Rick was a keen adventurer and that meant the then 10-year-old Max Woosey looked up to him greatly. Before he died, Rick gave Max one of his tents and told him to go and have an adventure. And what an adventure it has been.Â

Less than month after Rick died, the world was plunged into chaos with coronavirus lockdowns. Max and his family immediately knew that North Devon Hospice would suffer. They had just seen first-hand why the charity is so vital to local people, but they were acutely aware that all fundraising had ground to a halt. What would happen to the nurses who just cared for their friend Rick? What would happen to other local people who had cancer and needed this same care in their final weeks?Â

This concern prompted young Max started his sponsored camp-out, hoping to raise £100 for the hospice. Pitching Rick’s tent it in his garden, he pledged to sleep outside until lockdown was over. At the time, most thought it would be a matter of weeks. The rest, as they say, is history.Â

Max’s camp-out has now lasted nearly 600 nights and he has become a hero to people across the globe, raising a scarcely believable £650,000 for North Devon Hospice. He can look upon a Pride of Britain award on his mantlepiece, to add to a long list of unique experiences that he has already enjoyed along this remarkable journey.Â

Every single plaudit that comes his way is totally deserved. And to think it all started from that one moment, when the hospice team came to visit his neighbour. Sometimes life offers you small opportunities that could lead to big things. Be like Max, and seize those opportunities with both hands.Â