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Helping to set up a school and orphanage for deprived kids in Kenya; saving distressed horses from Welsh mountains, and making life better for the homeless and hungry on her doorstep...Those are just some of the dozens of good causes championed by one of Teignmouth's most prolific charity fundraisers.  Widely described as ‘a remarkable woman’, Melissa's charitable efforts over 40 years were recognised in 2017 with a well-deserved British Empire Medal in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List.

For 22 years, Melissa with her husband Bill ran the Whistestop Café at Teignmouth rail station, which became a vital charity hub for the whole community.

One of Melissa's many charitable enterprises is welcoming bikers every Tuesday evening. where she provides teas, coffees and cakes, and bikers meet and swap stories in the large carpark outside the café.  Each biker willingly gives a small donation and Melissa chooses different charities each week to benefit.  Over the years, The Helen Foundation has been an occasional beneficiary of these wonderful collections.  We are very grateful to Melissa and her remarkable efforts. Ill health has, alas, forced her to step down from running the café. in October.

She says

"My doctors have been asking me to give it up for the last 12 years, it is just pure stubbornness and believing in the work I’ve been doing, and my love for each and everyone of you, the friends I’ve made, customers who have passed and the new friends I’ve made that has kept me going

During this time we have raised over half a million pounds for charities local and national, wards on Torbay hospital, and local people who have had needs. I say we, because you have all been bloody amazing.

Our pay it forward (kindness programme) has fed so so many struggling people.

I would like to thank the teams I have worked with past and present, as an employer I have been very blessed.

Biker nights will continue until October, I love these nights they bring me warmth and friendliness, you should all be proud of the amount you have achieved."


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