Sometimes when families are faced with the unthinkable, it's the simple things that can make the biggest difference.

That's what the Slaters from Drayton found when their son Joseph was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2014.

With help from Hannah's Holiday Homes and the Portsmouth Lottery, the Slaters and their three children have been given an opportunity to reconnect as a family. Hannah's Holiday Homes offers children and their families free breaks in luxurious holiday homes on Hayling Island and in the New Forest. The charity used money raised from Portsmouth Lottery ticket sales to send the Slaters on a trip to remember.

Ben Slater, Joseph's dad, said: "Joseph’s fight with leukaemia has led to some very hard times over the past three years for the whole family, particularly for his older brother, Hayden, and sister, Madeline, who have had to deal with the attention Joseph’s illness has demanded, the countless hospital stays and separation from both Joseph and either my wife or me."

Ben continued: "Trying to generate quality family time and childhood memories throughout treatment has been one of the most difficult things amongst the darkness of caring for a child with a life threatening illness.

"The feeling as a parent to see your children smile for the entire weekend having been through so much is indescribable. Seeing Joseph's face during his first swimming experience as he exclaimed 'I’m swimming, I can float' having been too young prior to his diagnosis to swim is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced.

"To be able to get away for a weekend, reward the children and remove them from the environment that holds so many difficult memories is priceless. I can't even begin to explain the impact this break has on our family’s ability to reset and continue our fight, even when things become too difficult to cope with."

Good causes serving communities in Portsmouth can register for free to sell tickets through the Portsmouth Lottery. As Pam Marshall - who runs the charity with the support of volunteers - has found, the lottery is a great way for good causes of all sizes to raise vital funds for their work.

Pam said: "Everyone who plays the Portsmouth Lottery helps us raise money - it's free to join and it doesn't take long for a few ticket sales a week to add up to a holiday for one of our families. All fundraising allows us to offer our continued support to people just like the lovely Slater family.

"Last year we were able to help over 150 families by offering them breaks, which takes us to over 850 families supported. We have 57 booking in already for this year. 

"When a child is diagnosed with cancer the dynamics of the family can suffer with the stresses and strains of hospital life and siblings find it hard to adjust too. Although we are unable to fund research or vital medication, we pride ourselves in providing fun to families who have been through such a bleak time. The family can spend some quality time away enjoying fabulous park facilities, the sites have fantastic entertainment teams, restaurants, arcades, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, whilst spending time in our luxurious homes.

"We are a small team with a huge heart and just want to be able to help more special families and put as many big smiles on lots of little faces as possible.” 

People can support the great work the charity does by visiting and searching for 'Hannah's Holiday Home Appeal'