Animal charity launched in memory of ‘selfless’ Eastbourne man

Tristan and Rebecca on their wedding day
Tristan and Rebecca on their wedding day

The family of an Eastbourne man who died just three days after marrying the love of his life is launching a charity in his memory.

Twenty-seven-year-old Tristan Hoedemaker wed Rebecca MacDonald in an emergency ceremony at St Wilfrid’s in December, a few days after they found out he had terminal cancer.

Tristan and Rebecca

Tristan and Rebecca

Devastatingly he died on December 11.

Rebecca is now in the process of registering Tristan’s Pawprints as an official charity to fulfil her husband’s dream of opening a dog rescue centre.

Related story: Devoted Eastbourne couple wed two days after tragic diagnosis

She said, “Tristan was the most selfless person you could meet. He was so generous and so passionate.

“He worked as a veterinary nurse and absolutely adored animals. He had six dogs, he sponsored and fostered a lot of dogs, and it was always his dream to open a dog rescue centre. I promised him I would fulfil his dream.”

Rebecca says almost £9,000 has been raised for Tristan’s Pawprints so far, but a lot more is needed.

“We’re in the process of registering as an official charity but it will take a little while. We’ve raised about £9,000 so far but we think we’re going to need about £50,000 to get it up and running.

“It will either be a dog sanctuary or a dog trust that raises funds for other dog charities. We have to be realistic about what we can manage.”

Friends and family are pitching in to fundraise – including one man who cycled 1,000 miles for Tristan’s Pawprints – and Rebecca is taking on the Beachy Head Marathon in October.

She said, “Tristan and I had planned to do it together, but a lot of my friends will be doing it with me too.”

While Tristan’s sister Dominique Eldermans said of the charity, “It was something he always wanted to do and we thought it’s something for the animals he loved so much. He gave his life to animals.”

A vegan, she said he volunteered at WRAS and rescued around 30 dogs and fostered more. Tristan had just landed a dream job at St Anne’s Vets before he died. The team there hosted a fundraising day which raised more than £300 for the cause.

“He was totally selfless,” Dominique said, “I don’t know anybody like him. He was a voice for the animals.”

Visit www.facebook.com/tristanspawprints/ for more details on Tristan’s Pawprints and ways to donate – t-shirts and hats are available for anyone wishing to make a contribution.

And click here to see the online fundraiser.