Odyssey a small charity which was founded in Canterbury in 1994 by the then Director of the Chaucer Hospital, Steve Gough, along with Consultant Oncologist Howard Smedley, has recently benefitted from a £400 donation as part of the Kent Mark Benevlonet Fund’s matched-funding scheme. Since then, Odyssey has been quietly transforming the lives of any adult who has had a cancer diagnosis by creating a magical, fun and often ‘life-changing’ adventure for them, and helping them regain their self-confidence and enjoyment of life.

Odyssey helps people ‘live well’, while living with the uncertainty of cancer. The charity takes participants to an unknown (to them!) destination, whilst drawing on the majesty of the outdoors, where they are challenged by a series of physical, creative and artistic tasks during a free 5-day residential course. In turn these adult cancer survivors overcome the physical and emotional devastation caused by their illness without which their quality of life would be diminished.

After the first few years of only running courses in Kent, Odyssey expanded its operation to venues including Wales and Scotland, and several other locations in England. More recently courses have been restricted to Wales and Kent, with Kent being the consistent venue throughout, with 2 to 3 courses held in the county each year.

To date around 1500 cancer patients have benefitted from attending one of the courses. Odyssey is a small, well-managed charity with low overheads and has no full-time staff. The Operations Manager in charge of running Odyssey day-to-day works approximately the equivalent of 0.6 of a full time employee (FTE). Other part-time staff who work on an hourly basis amount to another approximately 0.6 FTE, thus the total for the charity is only 1.2 FTE.

The charity receives no statutory funding, so all income has to be from externally sourced, with the majority of this coming via donations from applications made to grant giving organisiations, the charity’s own fundraising events, alongside donations from individuals and other sources.

Odyssey Trustee George Chandler from Graveney near Faversham, and a member of the Mark Lodge of Harmony, was instrumental in introducing the charity to the KMBF, and Odyssey is understandably extremely grateful for the match-funding donation of £200 to double the figure donated by the Lodge of Harmony.