Cannon Hall Farm backs hospice Midnight Walk

13 June 2012

The family who run Cannon Hall Farm are backing a huge charity walk to raise money for Barnsley Hospice – with a special reason to offer support.

Maxine Nicholson, wife of Richard who is co-director at the attraction, lost a battle against cancer three years ago. The mum-of-one had complementary therapies at the hospice which helped her to cope with her clinical treatments. 

More than 1,300 women are expected to walk through the night of June 23 for the hospice’s sixth annual ‘Midnight Walk’ to raise funds for services like those Maxine benefitted from. On finishing, the walkers will be treated to breakfast and Cannon Hall Farm has donated over 1,200 traditional sausages, worth £500, for the occasion.

Richard said:  “Having faced cancer in my own family, I know what a valuable resource the hospice provides to people suffering from cancer and other illnesses, along with their families and carers. We’re really pleased to be able to make this donation as the walkers will deserve a good breakfast when they’ve finished the route.”

Maxine was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer of the lymphatic system, in 2007. A former intensive care nurse, she left nursing to work in the gift shop at the farm before giving up work to look after the couple’s adopted son. The little boy was four when Maxine died, aged 46, in 2009.

Richard said:  “Maxine was full of life and always positive; even when her prognosis was poor she had a smile for everyone. She approached everything with enthusiasm, was a great mum and could make a friend with a single smile. She had a big personality and an infectious laugh, loved life and people and left a big gap when she left us.”

Richard added that Maxine was a “firm believer” in complementary therapies and had treatments at the hospice, as well as at the Cavendish Cancer Care centre at Weston Park Hospital, in Sheffield, where she underwent several courses of chemotherapy.

“Complementary therapies like massage and Reiki helped her relax and gave her a sense that she was doing something positive in her fight against the cancer,” said Richard.

It is hoped proceeds from this year’s ‘Midnight Walk’ will top the £100,000 raised by the event last year. Money collected goes to the running of the hospice, at Gawber, which cares for anyone in Barnsley who has a life-threatening illness, along with their loved ones.

Helen Macintosh, walk organiser, said: “We are very grateful to the Nicholson family for their donation. Support for the walk from the people of Barnsley, both businesses and the general community, has been phenomenal.  The hospice has touched so many people’s lives.”

For hundreds of years Cannon Hall Farm was home farm to the Cannon Hall Estate.  The estate was sold by the Spencer Stanhope family in 1957 when Richard’s grandfather Charles Nicholson paid £7,100 for land and buildings.  Around the same time the hall itself was bought by Barnsley Council and turned into a museum.

Richard’s father Roger took over the farm when Charles died and, from the 1980s, it was developed for visitors. Roger and wife Cynthia are still involved in the business, with Richard and brothers Robert and David, who are also directors.

The working farm keeps a range of animals including cattle, pigs, donkeys, goats and llamas and baby animals are born all year round. 

The attraction, which is planning £5 million worth of new developments over the next three years, was recently a finalist in the best tourism experience category in the national Visit England Awards for Excellence.

For more information about the farm call 01226 790427 or visit

For more information about the walk, which is five or ten miles, or to register go to


Attached picture shows Maxine Nicholson. For more information contact Richard Nicholson on 01226 790427 or at  Please note Maxine and Richard’s son’s name is not being disclosed due to issues around identification by birth relatives.

Additional media contacts: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or at or Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07792 764891 or at

Last year almost quarter of a million people visited Cannon Hall Farm, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year’s visitor numbers.

The attraction opened a new £500,000 outdoor children’s playground, with a climbing forest and tube maze, and recently gained planning permission for £5 million worth of further developments over the next three years. These include a new farmyard and indoor play area as well as an extension to its tearoom and a new farm shop.

The scheme, once complete, is expected to create 150 new jobs on top of the 160 already in place.


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