Classic car enthusiasts don’t get much more passionate than Whangamata local Noddy Watts.
For 21 years, Noddy’s been one of the driving forces behind the iconic Repco Beach Hop - an annual celebration of classic cars and all things rock and roll.
The event has an impressive record of raising funds for community charities. And this year was no different, with $14,000 donated to the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge in Hamilton.
This year’s choice of charity was personal for Noddy and fiancée Andrea Ross, who was diagnosed with cancer late last year.
With an intensive treatment schedule at Waikato Hospital, the Lodge became the couple’s home away from home from 15 December until Andrea finished treatment at the end of February.
Noddy and Andrea say the Lodge, which provides free accommodation and meals to people who need to travel long distances for cancer treatment, took a weight off their shoulders during a difficult time.
“The stress would have been unmanageable, the financial stress too. I don’t know how we would have coped. How could you drive from Whangamata to Hamilton and back every day for radiation treatment?
“Being at the Lodge helped with recovery too; not having to worry about housework or cooking a meal with good healthy food. And the shuttle to appointments at the hospital made things easier. Nothing was ever a drama,” says Noddy.
Andrea adds there’s also a huge benefit from spending time with other people who are going through a similar experience, which is not something you can get anywhere else.
“Communal support is a big part of it too. We made a lot of friends, and the positive nature of everyone there is amazing,” says Andrea.
The comfortable double room the couple shared with views over Hamilton city became Noddy’s headquarters, allowing him to forge ahead planning the March event as Andrea recovered from treatment.
“Because of our experience there, we wanted to thank them for all they’ve done. We couldn’t have run the event without it. I’m only just realising that now.”
While their time at the Lodge may have inspired the choice of charity, Noddy credits the generosity of the classic car community for the impressive final total raised.
When an original artwork by airbrush artist Julia Tapp went up for auction, Ron Macrae rounded his winning bid from $7,000 up to $10,000. Verne and Michelle Russell donated the $1000 cash prize they had won for Harcourts Top Hop House back to the cause.
And two decades of Beach Hop history also went under the hammer after long-time volunteer Wayne Montgomery auctioned his crew gear from 21 years, adding another $2,500 to the total. Wayne previously stayed at the Lodge while receiving treatment for cancer.
Shelley Campbell, chief executive of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society, says the charity is incredibly grateful for the generous donation, which comes at a significant moment in the Lodge’s history as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
“For ten years, the Lodge has offered a lifeline to people across the region who might otherwise struggle to get the treatment they need far from home. It’s a very special place, and we’re so thankful Whangamata, and the wider Beach Hop community agrees.”