Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Meeting Gold Medal Olympian Christine Ohuruogu For The Bowel Cancer Book

Last weekend I met 400m athlete Christine Ohuruogu, who won Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008, and silver at London in 2012. This meeting was quite a long time in the planning, as when Christine is not training, she is now doing a law degree. 

It was a seriously cold day at The Mile End Stadium in East London, but Christine has to train in all weathers. The degree has put paid to her winter training in the sunshine of The Caribbean this year, where she would spend some of our winter usually.

The chapter in the book will mention how the security guys were not going to allow me into the venue to begin with, and on a lighter side I don't think too many people will have been told off by an Olympic gold medal winner! Christine was brilliant fun, with a great sense of humour, and has a terrific first record! She also was very interested to find out a bit more about bowel cancer, and why I am doing this bought. I am very grateful for her support.

Doing a selfie with Christine also gave me the opportunity to wear  one of the "Stop Bowel Cancer" t-shirts which I have just started to sell for only £8 on my bowelcancerfundraising website. All proceeds raised from sales will be donated to Bowel Cancer UK / Beating Bowel Cancer, who have recently merged to form the UK's leading bowel cancer charity.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Chief Executive Deborah Alsina MBE On Board The New Book

There is much excitement in the bowel cancer charity world as 2018 begins with Beating Bowel Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK merging to become the UK's leading bowel cancer charity. This became reality on New Year's Day, so never one to miss out on an opportunity I immediately asked the Chief Executive, Deborah Alsina MBE, to be part of the new book, The Record, and the good news is she has  happily agreed. I've known Deborah on social media ever since I started fundraising in 2012. She was always incredibly kind and supportive throughout my mum's illness, and it will lovely to finally meet up. I have always admired her passion and work with Bowel Cancer UK, so I am looking forward to working with her too on my fundraising and raising awareness.

I am hoping the coming together of the two charities might open a few doors for me in terms of getting some more people on board the new book. More importantly the charity's mission is that by 2050 no-one will die from bowel cancer. The statement from charity reads, "As the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity, our purpose is clear: we are determined to save lives, improve the quality of life and support all those affected by bowel cancer in the UK. We are tremendously excited about the future and our pledge is bold, stretching and inspiring. Within ten years we will transform survival rates, from only one in every two people surviving bowel cancer over five years, to three out of four people surviving. There will be better treatment and care including information and support for every patient and screening will be optimal, leading to more cancers being detected early or prevented leading to fewer emergency presentations."

As 2017 drew to a close the fundraising total from my current publication, Lives & Times, has now passed £3450 so it's inching ever closer to the next milestone of £3500. It can be bought from my website. All proceeds raised from everything I sell are donated to Bowel Cancer UK / Beating Bowel Cancer, whose new name will be unveiled later on this year. The new fundraising book is being written in memory of my mum who passed away in August 2016 after a 4 year battle with bowel cancer.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

2017 - The Story So Far

As we head towards the end of 2017, I thought it was an appropriate time to update everyone on the book's progress. A very busy and productive year has seen me go past the half-way stage in the creation of The Record, and opens up the possibility of having the book published towards the end of 2018, although if it has to go back into 2019 I will not be too worried. The important thing is to get it as good as possible, and not rush it.

On a personal note 2017 has been a year of change. The first part of the year was very busy sorting out Mum's house, and completing the sale. It was perhaps only once it completed at Easter that I really began to realise just how different life would be without the folks moving forward. Writing the book, and meeting so many wonderfully kind and generous people has proved to be a very cathartic experience, not to mention fascinating. I will be genuinely sorry when this part of fundraising comes to an end, as I don't think I can really stretch this idea to a third book once this one s finished... I must also mention the two dogs Storm and Prince. Storm passed away in the summer after a long battle with lymphoma, but came to many photo sessions. Prince who has a serious spinal condition, but still is enthusiastic to meet as many people as I am!

This new book will feature patients, and their families affected by bowel cancer. I met Gina Shergold who lost her husband Steve to bowel cancer aged just 33, Steve Clark who is approaching the five year mark with stage 4 bowel cancer, Lauren Backler who lost her mum to bowel cancer, and who is tirelessly campaigning to get the screening age reduced to 50 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I also met 'Bowel Babe' Deborah James, a stage 4 cancer patient who is like a tornado in her fight with bowel cancer, raising awareness, and huge amounts of money. Then there was another Deborah James, who I had got to know over a couple of years on social media, and we finally met up in May. Sadly she passed away in July aged just 37 years old, and she left a lasting impression on me and many others.

Being Taught Selfies by Deborah James 
Sport has played a big part in the book too, meeting with ex-professional footballers Kevin Sheedy and Eddie Gray. Kevin is a bowel cancer survivor. I met with 4 Olympic gold medallists: Anne Dickins, Jeanette Chippington, Carl Hester and Zac Purchase. I am soon to meet with Christine Ohuruogu in the new year.

I've already met with a very eclectic list of musicians: Frank Turner, John Coghlan, Steve Hackett, Steve Barnard, James Stevenson, Amy Macdonald, New Model Army, Skinny Lister, Hazel O'Connor and Billy Ocean. Plenty more planned for next year so watch this space.

Billy Ocean in Oxford
I kept up the tradition of cricket related people I bean in the last book, Lives & Times. I met with journalist George Dobell in Birmingham, and commentators Daniel Norcross and Natalie Germanos. I am still hoping to meet Ebony Rainford-Brent and Mike Selvey. 

The world of television, media and entertainment has been very fruitful with meetings with Victoria Derbyshire, Nicola Bryant, Bill Turnbull, Sean Fletcher, David Baddiel, Janet Ellis, and Colin MurrayI spent a brilliant day in South Yorkshire where I met writer and broadcaster Andrew White, followed by the brilliant poet Ian McMillan. There was also a trip to Glasgow to meet Laura Boyd from STV - Laura who has been living with leukaemia since 2009. The year ended with a wonderful meeting with Basil Brush in pantomine at Windsor.

Boom Boom!
So as 2018 approaches the journey continues. I have a big list of people I am hoping to meet up with including, Kim Wilde, Michelle Collins, Susan George, Dan Walker, Daf Wyn-Farr Jones, Frazer Hines, Steve Norman, The Levellers, Jona Lewie, Jay Aston, Jules Peters, Adam Green Kirsty Duffy, Terry Christian, Ed Bazelgette, Stacey Heale, Sian Lloyd, Matt Allwright, Richard & Sarah Haugh, Mark Flannigan, Mari Isdale, Jacquie Beltrao, Omid Djalili, Noel Darvell, Gareth Jones, Freya North, Gail Porter, Elizabeth Alker, David Grant, Nick Robinson, and Annabel Giles. I am also still on the lookout for more people.

A big thank you to everyone who has been involved so far, and for those who are upcoming in 2018. The recent news of Beating Bowel Cancer merging with Bowel Cancer UK, creating the UK's leading bowel cancer charity gives fresh impetus to everyone, and the hope that in the future no-one will die of bowel cancer. I will continue with my fundraising and helping to raise awareness.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year, and I hope 2018 is a good one for everyone.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

New Model Army at The Forum

I was extremely grateful to Justin Sullivan & New Model Army for organising me a photo pass for their gig at The Forum in London this week. It was a brilliant opportunity to photograph the band in action, and I was then able to enjoy what was a fantastic concert. The experience of being in the photo pit to do this was amazing, and one I won't forget, although one of security guards got a bit funny about camera light meters which threatened to ruin things at one point. I got some great photos - this one will not be in the book, and just to mention Justin's first record is a cracker!

I am hoping that The Record will be published towards the end of 2018, although there is no time limit, and I am not going to put myself under any unnecessary pressure. All proceeds from sales of this book will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer. My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, and died after fighting with great courage and dignity for over four years in August 2016. Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK claiming 16,000 lives each year. However, if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. Much more needs to be done in raising awareness about this awful disease, and improving early diagnosis rates. The more we speak about it, and break down the awkwardness surrounding conversations about our bowels, the more chance we have of making people aware of the symptoms and getting themselves checked out.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Levellers Get Involved With Bowel Cancer Charity Book

I am really pleased to reveal that The Levellers have got involved with, The Record, my forthcoming  charity book that will raise funds for Beating Bowel Cancer. I can't say too much about it at the moment, except that it is going to be something very special for sure.

The new book is being done in memory of my mum who passed away from bowel cancer in August 2016, and it's the follow up to Lives & Times, which has so far raised over £3400 for the charity. Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK claiming 16,000 lives each year. However, if detected early, it is one of the most treatable cancers, and can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. Raising awareness and early detection are key to bringing down the number of deaths. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Nicola Bryant "Peri" from Doctor Who Joins Bowel Cancer Charity Book

This week I met up with actress, Nicola Bryant, perhaps best remembered for playing "Peri Brown" in Doctor Who during the 1980s. She was ever so nice, and great fun as well. We probably spent more time talking about dogs than anything else. Nicola was sporting her "Harvey" scarf, and I had Prince along for the ride, and Nicola made a big fuss of him which made her a new friend. Of course we talked about her time on Doctor Who, but also in the chapter there will be a few interesting facts about Nicola that I did not know, and her first record is a cracker! Bowel cancer has also touched Nicola's family on her partner's side, so I was really grateful for her support. The book is now over half completed. I am hoping it might be ready by the end of 2018, but there is no deadline, so we shall see. Keep following the blog for updates.

Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK. Each year 41,000 people are diagnosed with it, and 16,000 lose their lives. However, if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases, so it is crucial to raise awareness about bowel cancer, and improve early detection rates. 

My mother passed away in August 2016 after over four years of bowel cancer. She had five major operations, but managed to lead a normal and very happy life right up until the last few months when the cancer spread to her brain. My current fundraising book, Lives & Times, has raised over £3400 for Beating Bowel Cancer, and all proceeds raised from sales of the forthcoming book will also be donated to the same charity.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Frank Turner Meeting at Reading Hexagon

I met and photographed Frank Turner in Reading one year ago on November 30th, 2016 for the new bowel cancer fundraising book I am currently putting together. All proceeds raised from sales of the forthcoming book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. It turned into being a pretty amazing experience which will be told in full in the chapter in the book, As you can see in the above photo Frank was great fun and happy to do a photo wearing the charity's tie to help raise awareness about this awful illness. The reason why Frank agreed to meet me was after hearing about my Mum's 4 year battle with bowel cancer before she sadly passed away in August 2016.

I met Frank in one of the rooms back stage at Reading Hexagon. I was told that I would have 5 minutes with him, so I knew I had to be ready with my camera and that every second would count with him. There was a itinerary sheet on the wall which showed just how busy a day he had. And I saw my name on it, which was a nice touch knowing that I was a very small part in his day.

Frank couldn't have been nicer. I made sure I got the name of his first record, which has an interesting story behind it. He was extremely nice and was happy to chat and do the photos. We crammed in quite a bit into the 5 minutes. When he found out that I didn't have a ticket for the sold out show he put me on the guest which was a very kind and generous gesture.

The gig was outstanding. I've got a few of his albums and, through other fans of my favourite band, The Alarm, I have been really getting into his music this year. However this was my first experience of seeing him live. I knew it was going to be good, but seriously it would not be an understatement to say that this was one of the best gigs that I have been to. Quite brilliant! I followed this up by going to one of the The Lost Weekends gigs in London earlier this year, which was outstanding too.

I don't want to write too much here as I want to save plenty for the chapter in the book. I know that this kind of magical experience will produce the kind of chapter in the book that I am aiming for. It simply would not have happened without Frank's help. A true legend..

The book is about half finished. Plenty more interesting people to still to meet and photograph, so it is still about a year away I reckon.