The owner of Stump Cross Caverns, discovered by miners in 1860, have resorted to fundraising to keep the caves open after the pandemic as they did not receive funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
The Bowerman family, who own the 500,000-year-old site, decided to raffle off their campervan – and the fundraiser was won by 29-year-old Chris Riley, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer last year.
Mr Riley said: “Having had a tough 12 months, following my diagnosis, this was the best news ever. Winning the campervan is one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened to me. We’ve now got plenty to look forward to this coming summer.”
Mr Riley said he has responded well to chemotherapy and plans to use the campervan to travel the UK with his fiancée, Elle Stubbington, in the summer.
Some £70,000 has been raised to save the caves from closure.
Owner Lisa Bowerman said: “It was an emotional moment when I heard about Chris’s story. It means so much to us to know that our appeal, and the generosity of our supporters, has not only saved the caves from closure and safeguarded our team, but will also help someone who’ll really benefit from this truly amazing prize.”