Melon’s Cottage: Supporting Families who Need a Break

At Freemasons Bairnsdale, the Freemasons Foundation made a grant of $5,000 and the Bairnsdale Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor donated $600 to Jodi and Peter Simpson of Melon’s Cottage.

Melon’s Cottage is just that – a cottage set up to assist Victorian families who have children with leukaemia/cancer or are bereaved, to have some much-needed respite.

The cottage is available free of charge for a week at a time and all bookings are managed by “Challenge – Supporting Kids with Cancer.”

Melon’s Cottage is named after Eli Charlie Simpson (Melon to his parents) who was born on 28 September 2007. At fifteen weeks of age Eli was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia (JMML) which effects just four in a million children each year. Unfortunately, Eli lost his battle due to complications from his bone marrow transplant at the tender age of 13 and a half months, on the 16 November 2008.

The Cottage was started in 2012 and the purpose is to allow families who have a child with a life-threatening illness or a bereaved family some time away in a beautiful environment near Lakes Entrance, Victoria. There have been in excess of 18 families a year using the cottage, of which 2-3 have been bereaved. The cottage accommodates 6-7 people and it is available to anyone in Victoria and has been recently used by families from South East Melbourne, Heyfield, Orbost, Echuca and Point Cook.

Melon’s cottage relies heavily on donations and fundraising activities every year to assist with payment of rates, maintenance and utility bills to ensure that every family can stay free of charge. The local community is very proud of the cottage and the work that is being done by the highly regarded Simpsons.

Over time Jodi and Peter have refurbished the kitchen and disabled bathroom facilities and provided disabled access. They plan to install an all ability friendly playground in the back yard. The grant and the other funds will go a long way to provide more play equipment, a circular rope swing, with soft fall under the equipment and shade sails.

One of the Brethren in his motion for the Conclave to consider supporting the Cottage said:

“This situation is very close to my heart because of my granddaughter, …who has had leukaemia for the past two and half years, is now in remission but is still on antibiotics. Our family has been helped by so many people, which includes the Eli Foundation, and we should support such a very worthy cause.”

Those at the presentation thanked Jodi and Peter for what they were doing to ease the emotional burden that these people were suffering.

A Brother present spoke of the strength that the Simpson’s has shown at a time of incredible sorrow in their life when they lost their baby boy, and the astoundingly unselfishness that they had exhibited in creating Melon’s Cottage, a place to find respite and refuse amongst people who could relate to each other.

We wish you every success and are exceedingly impressed with your courage and continued determination to make a difference and thank you for giving us something more than worthy to put our money towards.