“I’M a very lucky man. I’ve a beautiful wife, two wonderful daughters and four grandchildren who make me very proud.

“What more could a man want?”

Despite being terminally ill Les Goldingay counts his blessings every day, dismissing the cruel consequences of a disease which is gradually robbing him of all he holds dear.

“I’ve accepted I’m dying so I live every day like it’s my last,” he says.

“Coping with cancer is much harder for my family; those who will be left behind.”

Former car production worker Les, 55, and his wife Kim, 51, from Solihull, Birmingham, are preparing to check out of Albany Lodge, a 20-bedroom Southbourne hotel which caters for families trying to come to terms with cancer. The couple, who have been married for 33 years, were devastated when they were told just over a year ago that fitness fanatic Les had 10 brain tumours.

“One morning while shaving I couldn’t co-ordinate the razor,” he recalls.

“I was a Thai boxing instructor and qualified scuba diver.

“I’d lost weight but felt fine until that day.”

Radiotherapy shrunk seven brain tumours but scans showed cancer in Les’s kidney, lung and shoulder. His condition was incurable.

He says: “I’m fortunate because I’m not in constant pain. In March I was told I’d just months to live but my youngest grandchild is six weeks old and I’m determined to be around when she starts school.

“I’ve got a wicked sense of humour and want to enjoy what time I’ve left.

“Worrying about cancer isn’t going to make it go away.”

Kim gave up her hospital job to care for Les.

“It’s brought us closer.

“When you’re both working you tend to take each other for granted.

“We were leading ordinary lives.

“Then, overnight, everything changed.

“Things are fine on Les’s good days but we’re jolted back to reality on his bad days. “We’ve had time to discuss the future and make plans for his funeral.

“Cancer puts a different slant on things and we now appreciate the simple things in life like beautiful blue skies.”

Albany Lodge has provided a safe haven for the couple.

After several stays, they are planning to return in four weeks’ time.

“I never thought I’d get excited about a tinsel and turkey break in Bournemouth,” Kim jokes.

“But I can’t wait because it will mean meeting up with old friends.

“Once I arrive I feel relaxed because I know medical support is there.

“It’s like any normal hotel, with day trips and entertainment.

“The food is very good and, although some guests are poorly, the staff are never patronising.”

Kim and staff at her local building society recently raised more than £4,000 for Albany Lodge.

Returning to Albany Lodge brought back many happy memories for Londoner Dennis Johnson, 74.

He and his late wife Margaret stayed there several times before she was admitted to a hospice and lost her battle for life in May last year.

On this occasion Dennis, who organised a sponsored walk for Albany Lodge and raised more than £1,000, is joined by their daughter Emma Pratt, 41, and her children, Jessie, 11, and nine-year-old Tom.

Dennis, 74, says: “I can’t praise the staff enough; they provide a sanctuary for families like ours.

“Margaret loved it here.

“She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was ill for three years.

“We used to book holidays abroad but have to cancel them because of her treatment, losing our deposits.

“Here you can change arrangements right up until the last minute; they are very understanding.

“Having a nurse, on call, round the clock gave us both peace of mind.

“Margaret’s final wish was that, instead of flowers, people should donate to Albany Lodge and we collected £2,775.”

Emma said: “Coming back here without mum was strange but it’s been great therapy.

“It’s like a big reunion.

“Although some people are very ill there’s a happy atmosphere.”

Albany Lodge is owned and operated by Macmillan Caring Locally, a non-profit-making charity based at the Macmillan Unit at Christchurch hospital.

Trust secretary Neal Williams told the Daily Echo: “It’s the only hotel of its kind in the country.

“Guests don’t want sympathy and no one is labelled by their condition. “Carers often need a holiday as much as those they are caring for.

“We’ve bought the Grove hotel in Bournemouth which we are planning to convert and open next April to replace Albany Lodge, which isn’t ideal because there are stairs leading to the restaurant and a very small lift.

“There will be 30 bedrooms so we will be able to provide holidays for even more people.”

Albany Lodge manager Brenden Howard says: “Even though our guests are ill, we want them to have a fun holiday.

“All the staff have a great sense of humour and I think that really helps.”

To support Albany Lodge’s wish list call Brenden on 01202 428151.