Reuben’s Retreat has been awarded £150,000 by the Thomas Cook Children’s Charity fund  – the biggest single donation it has ever received.

The news, announced at the Thomas Cook retail conference in Cyprus, will help the charity achieve its aim to convert a former hospital into a family support centre and retreat in the north of England faster than it had expected.

Reuben’s Retreat was set up by Nicola and Mike Graham in 2012 after the death of their son Reuben from a sudden, aggressive brain tumour. Nicola, who previously worked at Red Sea Holidays, and Mike, who works for Travel Counsellors, described the donation as “staggering”.

In 2014, the charity bought Woods Hospital, a property located in 1.63 acres in the Peak District. The first three phases of the build are complete, including the renovation of The Lodge, a bereavement counselling support centre which offers counselling suites, office space, a function room and upstairs living space for visiting families.

The £150,000 donation will be used to fund phases four and five of the project, which in total will cost £500,000. This involves the renovation of the west wing of the hospital to include a hydrotherapy suite and a day care activity zone for families, featuring a movie room, arts and crafts, sensory rooms and make-believe play areas.

Nicola said: “Words cannot express our gratitude for this staggering donation, which will make such a huge difference, allowing us to provide families with much needed help so much sooner.

“We have already helped over 200 families but 2017 will also see us increase support for families and once our day care zone is ready we have plans to increase our beneficiary work significantly.”

Matt Harding, trustee for Thomas Cook Children’s Charity, said: “This is a charity close to many of our Thomas Cook colleagues’ hearts and we know our donation will have a huge impact on the families and children who use this service. A huge thank you goes to our Thomas Cook colleagues and customers for their generous donations which make partnerships like these possible.”

The Thomas Cook Children’s Charity was set up with the aim of improving the lives of children in the UK and overseas. Since 2009, it has raised more than £7 million by offering customers the chance to donate when they book a holiday, collecting unwanted coins in stores and on return flights to the UK on the Thomas Cook airline and from employees’ fundraising events.