Sorry for the delay, as I explain in the video there have been technical issues but I hope you enjoy and that normal Vlog service will resume very soon…
First apologies yet again for going quiet but as you will see have been busy editing videos. Second has anyone else ended up on the blue screen to write a new post I don’t like it and want my normal one back.
This weekend saw our first event with our new work charity partner, this year the Huddersfield Down Syndrome Support Group get our support and a great day was had by all but you don’t have to take my word for it watch the video I shall post at the end of this post.
I also got to collect my T-Shirts that were my reward for pledging as part of a Kickstarter to save one of our local shops, I was guilty of one of the greatest crimes effecting small businesses, apathy, I always assumed the shop would be there, I would see something I liked but put it off for the next payday, luckily our shop was saved and hopefully we have all learnt that very important lesson “Use it or Lose it!” For my Tees I got one Doctor Who one and another which I designed from the Charity Anthology cover…
And yes I know after a weekend in a bag I should have ironed them before taking the pictures lol
A quiet week this week for me playing catch up with writing and house work before getting excited for the athletics next week!
As you know the last couple of weeks I have been fairly quiet, those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook will have seen the picture of me from last Saturday attending the annual Casino night for the Joseph Salmon Trust, you can read more about that charity from my J entry of A – Z last year here.
The previous weekend here in the UK it was Sports Relief and across the country thousands of people were ritually humiliating themselves to raise money to make the world a better place while having a great time doing so in the process.
My contribution this year other than contributing financially by buying Onesie’s and T-shirts was to film the exploits taking place at my day job. then edit it together.
I did whether I should share it here after all I am behind the camera not actually on it but I am so proud of my colleagues for their efforts and how willing they all were to join in that I think you will get a kick out of it as much as we all have.
What is the most exciting thing you have done for charity?
Some Angels are only loaned to us for such a short time – I wrote this recently on someone’s blog (they know who they are) but it really is true some Angels are destined to spend only a short time on Earth others to remain and walk amongst us and some inspire others to be transformed. As I have helped trying to promote Charlie’s Cause I have been amazed by some of the amazingly strong and compassionate people I have come in contact with. There are events in life which if the strike will either make you or break you these people have stood up to adversity looked it firmly in the face and fought not only for themselves but for others, when most would curl up in self pity they have reached out to help others, they are each and every one of them truly inspirational and over the next few weeks I would like to introduce you to just a few of them.
I would like you all to meet Hayley Leon, her partner Lee and there son Jacob, though it was Jacob’s fight, it is the families journey and subsequent decision to become fundraisers extraordinaire that has led to their inclusion here. Not only are they raising funds to support the unit that saved their son’s life but Hayley has taken an active role in helping to promote the petition for Charlie’s cause Cords4Life UK as well. Recently Jacobs Journey launched their own website and Facebook page to compliment their twitter campaign.
First Hayley let me say thank you for agreeing to be interviewed and letting me ask lots of emotional questions which you have probably answered a hundred times before.
1) Jacobs Journey is a very apt name for your cause given the very real journey you have all been on with Jacob, can you tell us how it began?
Lee; When Jacob was 2 weeks old he became very poorly and began screaming and vomiting, we took him to Coventry University Hospital where they completed some basic tests and believed he had gastroenteritis, we were not happy with the results as Jacob was completely out of character appearing to be suffering with extreme pain, he would feed on milk, then vomit and start screaming, we couldn’t comfort him and it was very upsetting.
We noticed Jacob’s eyes were not responding normally as they appeared to be fixed in one corner, we raised this with the nurse who contacted a specialist (Dr Morgan) who checked his eyes.
Dr Morgan then immediately arranged for a CT Scan to be completed on Jacob’s head, we were now feeling very worried, one minute we were told he had an upset stomach and now he was going to have a CT scan of his brain? The results came back and Dr Morgan explain that Jacob had a large mass within his brain believed to be caused by a bleed.
Obviously we broke down, when you hear of bleeds to the brain you automatically think of the worst, we were completely unable to help our son or even comfort him.
Dr Morgan arranged for Jacob to be rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we had to wait while a specialist ambulance arrived, by this time our family was at the hospital and we were breaking the news to them, this was completely heartbreaking and would be the start of a journey that would change our lives forever.
The specialist ambulance arrived and Jacob had to be place onto a life support machine for the journey, this looked like an incubation chamber full of wires, tubes and equipment, we followed the ambulance to Birmingham, we were directed to ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and we had to wait while the Surgeon on duty reviewed his scans and symptoms, Mr Rodrigues then came to speak to us explaining that Jacob needed brain surgery to remove the clot and relieve the pressure within the brain that is causing the pain, we had to sign a consent form before the surgery could take place, there was a real risk of death from the operation but a certain risk of death without it, not really a choice so we both signed and put all of our hope into a man we didn’t know.
Jacob was prepared for surgery, we were allowed to see him quickly before he was taken into theatre, we did not want it to be a goodbye but it had that feeling to it, we waited for several hours and then we were told the surgery was complete and Jacob was still with us, this was the first hurdle in many that Jacob will overcome, we had to wait again for them to take Jacob back to ICU and place him on life support, he was unable to breath for himself and he was incredibly weak.
Jacob was in ICU for 4 days but this felt longer, after 3 days we were given accommodation in the Hospital although Hayley didn’t leave Jacobs side the whole time, our Family all took turns to visit and the support from them and friends was fantastic, we were completely torn away from our normal lives as nothing else seemed to matter.
The team at Birmingham were great, everyday in ICU there would be a different nurse looking after Jacob, we sat and watched as they constantly attended to him, feeding him through tubes and tracking his progress every hour of the day and night.
After 3 days Jacob was well enough to start breathing for himself, this was a really upsetting time as it was clear Jacob was not happy and was struggling to breath on his own, he looked confused to what was happening and it was devastating to watch him unable to pick him up and comfort him.
Jacob was taken to the Neonatel ward , this ward specialises in post ICU care and there was now 2 nurses to 4 children, we got to spend some more private time with Jacob and we able to starting picking him up briefly and feeding him normally, the care here was still fantastic and the nurses would respond to every cry. He stayed here for 8 days, in that time he had his drain removed from his head and physio started. On day 8 his surgeon was happy for us to take him home , we on the other hand were petrified, we were so scared as there was also a chance of a second bleed. Mr Rodrigues didn’t know weather he had got all of the abnormal blood vessels because it was quite deep in Jacobs brain. We were sent home with weekly appointments at the hospital and for a nurse to come twice weekly to measure Jacobs head for any swelling. He also started regular physio at home. For the next 10 months our lives were consumed with Hospital visits,scans, doctors appointments, physio , twice weekly nurse visits and developmental checks.
Hayley; Seeing Jacob on life support machine is an image that will never leave my mind. In a blink of an eye my baby was taken away from his side room after being treated for a stomach bug and taken to a HDU unit where the KIDS team from BCH arrived with all their equipment . There was wires every where , a big tube in his mouth , tubes up his nose. We were briefly allowed to check in on him but we had to leave them to do their job. Myself and Lee just stared blankly at each other. We always joked that we had so much bad luck in our lives but this was something else. Why was this happening to our baby? Was it something i had done? We started to question everything! Dr Morgan (Jacobs Paediatric Consultant) was fantastic. She kept saying Jacob was having a little rest , he wasn’t in pain and the KIDS team would make sure he got to BCH safely. It was some kind of nightmare we were in! Lee took it really bad. Because he had only taken a weeks paternity he was very upset that he hadn’t spent enough time with him. I was trying to hold it altogether , even though I just wanted to hide in a room and cry and cry and cry!
3) Jacob has two big brothers who I am guessing were told by everybody when he was born to look after their little brother how did they cope not only with his illness but with the fact that it obviously meant a lot of time spent away from you while you were at the hospital?
Hayley; When Jacob fell ill Callum was 9 and Jack was 4. We had fantastic support from our families who all took time off to look after them and to make sure their day to day life wasn’t interfered with . We didn’t want them to worry. Callum was a bit wary that something was not right but Jack didn’t have a clue as he was very young. We didn’t want them to visit Jacob in PICU because the whole experience was not nice for anyone who came to that ward . Lots of babies and small children hooked up to ventilators was heart breaking and I kept my children away from that. They did however come to visit Jacob for a few hours when he had his drain removed. We were able to go for a walk around the hospital and grab something to eat with them. They enjoyed the visit. Callum now knows that Jacob was very poorly and has since wrote an autobiography on his short life so far.
4) I obviously got to know you through Charlie’s couragous battle against cancer, how did you become involved with Cords4Life UK?
Hayley; I first found out about Charlie when we set up Jacobs Facebook group. I remember searching for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and his page popped up and I have followed him ever since. There was something quite special about this little boy. I loved looking through his gorgeous smiley pictures and his family are quite simply amazing! I got to know Joey through twitter and arranged to meet them all in hospital while Charlie was having his trial drug to drop of some presents for the family . Charlie was gorgeous, and Fiona and Joey were lovely and I was very honoured that they let us visit. Jacob had a wail of a time eating biscuits and being cheeky! It is a time I will never forget as Charlie and his family changed my outlook on life.
5) I would imagine that you got to know a lot of parents during your stay at Birmingham Children’s Hospital many of whom won’t have been as lucky as you have been, have you ever felt I guess what would be termed as survivor guilt?
Hayley; We have never felt guilty because Jacob survived , in fact I have never even thought about this before. Myself and Lee prayed so hard for Jacob on the night of his op and we hoped our loved ones above were listening to us because we didn’t want him to leave. My Grandma Died 7 days before Jacob fell ill and my family always say she left so Jacob could stay and I will always believe this.
6) I have gotten to know you well enough to become Facebook friends and have seen how well Jacob is doing but can you tell everyone where he is on terms of treatment now, and his prognosis for the future?
Hayley; Jacobs prognosis for the future is excellent. He has some left sided weakness due to the bleed but its not anything that anyone would notice. Its only something he would notice himself as he got older. He has another scan in July to check his brain and another developmental check to rule out mild cerebral palsy. The future is very bright for Jacob he is a very determined little boy!
Hayley; Jacobs bleed was caused by a group of malformed blood vessels in his brain which burst as they became weakened by the blood flow. His last scan showed that Jacob had no AVM in his brain and that everything was normal. We are certain that this will never happen again but he will have 2 yearly scans to double check.
8) What made you decide to fundraise for the hospital rather than merely send a thankyou card? And how would you counter those that argue we already pay for the NHS?
Hayley; When we came home from hospital , we set up a Facebook page for Jacob so we could raise money for Ward 10. No one knows if their child will ever need help from their local hospital and we all pray that this will never be the case, but we would like to know that if there was ever a need, they have the equipment, money and knowledge to be able to treat babies and children in the best possible way. Fundraising for Birmingham Children’s Hospital has become my hobby and passion and along with my friends and family we will continue to help and hold events to raise as much money as possible. Some people will just send a thank you card but lots of people want to give something back, how can you ever repay someone who saved your child’s life! The only way you can do this is to raise funds and make the hospital the best it can be.
Hayley; We were over the moon when we received our award , it was lovely to know that the hospital wanted to show their appreciation. The night was filled with amazing stories of brave people who were fundraising to say thank you for all the help and support the hospital gives them.
10) Your next event is your charity night can you tell us a little about that and where people can watch out for further events
Hayley; We are holding a charity night at the Willenhall Social Club Coventry on Saturday 30th March from 7pm We have some fantastic entertainment , live music, Children’s entertainer , Peppa Pig and George, Mickey and Minnie mouse, face painting , Raffle and a DJ! Tickets £5 adults £3 child. The amount of people helping me out with their time and generosity is amazing! We will also auction off a signed Coventry city shirt, a Coventry Blaze signed goalie stick , a signed photo of Man Utd Player Ashley Young and a signed Photo of Liverpool Player Luis Suarez. This will be taking place on Jacobs Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Jacobsjourney/ 25th March til 8th April! You can follow Jacob on his face group page which is listed above or on twitter @jacobs__journey for further events . Jacob also has a webpage http://jacobs–journey.webs.com/
I just want to say a huge thank you to Hayley and Lee for sharing their story and if you want to bid on anything or even maybe if any of your writers would like to sign a book and donate it to a good cause here are the links again.
The weekend started badly. Friday I received a call telling me my trip had been cancelled ao headed out to hand the monster over to his sister in a bit of a foul mood. I came back only to discover due to unforseen circumstances the hair cut had to be delayed twenty for hours but sometimes fate has twists in store for you that are in your own interests.
Saturday morning I got up to sunshine and was at first even more disappointed my trip had been cancelled I debated going off somewhere else for the day but knew time wise it would be a push so I decided to do something else I love doing but rarely get chance to and headed off to the second-hand market.
Here are the two star buys for the day..
Next was another star find..
After retail therapy was a little peckish so time for a spot of lunch and a coffee.
These pics aren’t brilliant as I took them on my phone and when my food came was far too ravenous to take a pic before diving in, but it was so relaxing to sit and eat in such lovely surroundings which were completed by the pianist at the grand piano playing classical music as we ate.
Then it was home for a couple of hours before setting off for the big chop!
Now let me say these are rare pics not only am I in front of the camera but I also am baring myself to you without make up. Anyone easily frightened should look away now.
The pics are courtesy of my hairdressers hubby who is the photographer in their company Box Of Frogs and copyrighted to him.
So here we have before…
So there we go all that is left to do is send the hair off which I will post pics of once it is ready for the post, if you wish to see more pics from the cut please visit my fb page or Nikki my hairdresser page here
On Sunday it will be my birthday and I have been thinking about how much my life has changed over the last year, I had two main aims one the hair cut challenge and secondly to write my novel both of which are sort of done. The novel is written though from the silence from the publishers I am starting to think that it didn’t make it through to the second round which means more work on it before sending it out into the world again. The hair will soon be going and hopefully raising a few pennies for a good cause along the way.
I decided to make a semi bucket list which will be appearing as a page on here it will be a list of 50 things I want to achieve before 50 not as simple as you might think, as I am trying to be realistic about what I put on there and make them achievable goals. I hope once the page goes up you will take a peek and maybe share a few of your own dreams and wishes maybe that will inspire me for a full bucket list at some point.
I posted about Charlie the other day for those who read the post he continues to have good and bad days but is generally still in good spirits at the minute they are exploring various options for further treatment and continuing to raise awareness and believe it or not despite their own troubles money for other charities, just shows what special people they are. As time is short on the hair cut thing I am forced to leave that soley with the charity I had chosen while Charlie was in remission which is Clic Sargent, this is a children’s cancer charity here in the uk.
Their mission statement is simple
Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer.
Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening experience and the emotional, practical and financial implications of treatment are intensely challenging for the whole family.
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical, financial and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. We are there from diagnosis onwards and aim to help the whole family deal with the impact of cancer and its treatment, life after treatment and, in some cases, bereavement.
They work within the hospitals giving children like Charlie and his family, hope and support and are a great cause. The promise for the Ghost stories collection still stands and as soon asI get the book done I will arrange with Charlie’s family a way to ensure that money raised from that goes directly to him and is visable for all to see the money is going there. For anyone wanting further details on Clic Sargent you can see there website here
If you can spare a pound or a dollar towards helping this charity help those in need please visit my page here at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/locksoflove
I will be booking the appointment to arrange for my hair to go in the next week it is hair dressers anniversary next week so she always has a well deserved break but I promise lots of pics of the big chop aswell. All being well it is pencilled in for the 5th and I do confess to being a little nervous
Okay guys you know how much I love you all, but I will be getting further behind on your posts over the next few weeks but it is in a good cause.
As I have mentioned last year I turned 40 and made some changes in my life I also started on some personal quests, the novel you are all aware of but the other I have been meaning to mention but unsure if it really belonged here but sadly matters have been pushed back to the fore by recent developments and now I really hope you will help if you can.
Let me introduce you to Charlie
This is the picture of Charlie I want you to hold in your mind as we speak he is my friends great-nephew, last year he battled cancer and we thought he had won. He went home and all was well for the first time in his short life he could run and play like any other child but cancer is and does not cruel give up its victims so easily, this is the other side of Charlies life once more,
Any and all prayers are welcome, but this is now where I explain why I shall be concentrating on my writing. Last year in a joke with my hairdresser about how quickly my hair grows we decided to do a charity chop I would grow it for a year hopefully get a few sponsors to raise money for a children’s cancer charity and send the hair away to be made into wigs for cancer suffers. I had plodded away at growing the hair intending to post the link to raise money this month on fb rather than here on my blog but this morning I received news which has changed it all. The chemo has failed and Charlies only hope is treatment abroad which of course requires funds. While his mum and dad plan various events I am changing my fundraising page to split the proceeds and as soon as I have that sorted I shall provide the link incase anyone is in a position to add even a dollar or two as every bit will help.
But the other thing I shall be doing is getting the short story collection done and working out a way to ensure 50% of anything I may make on it also goes towards helping Charlie get the treatment he needs, obviously the sooner this happens the better while he is stronger his chances are so much better, I shall continue posting and reading when I can but I need to do this. Please visit his fb page and give him a like if nothing else, the support his family have received has been great but they are such wonderful people they have set up a charity, not only for their own son but to help all other children in the same position you can find their page here Save Baby Charlie Beard-Harris
Thankyou in advance for his extra likes and I shall keep you all posted on his progress
Very occasionally in life we have the pleasure of meeting truly remarkable inspiring people. I have been blessed with the privilege of getting to know Neil and Rachel Salmon. Joseph was a healthy happy three-year old enjoying all the things three-year old boys do trains, cars and doing stuff with mummy and daddy. On the 1st of April 2005 their lives were turned upside down when their beautiful son Joseph fell into a slumber from which he would never awake. While many people in their position would fall apart they set up the Joseph Salmon Trust in his memory. Please when you have finished reading this click on the link and check out their website.
The Joseph Salmon Trust help families who suffer the loss of a child not just by offering support but by helping them financially. It is a time which is devastating enough without the added worries of how to give your child the respect in their final journey while many of us may think about starting trust funds for a child’s education no one would ever think about saving for a headstone this charity through their own experiences realise the pain and pressure bereaved parents fell and work tirelessly and selflessly to help as many people as they can. While at the minute the trust is still a local one it is telling they are one of the only charities in the country to offer financial as well as emotional support, it is this that inspires their followers to go to great lengths to help fundraise and raise awareness.
Last nights event was a charity comedy evening, and was a great success. The weather certainly attempted to put a downer on this evening but no amount of rain could spoil what turned out to be a wonderful evenings entertainment.
The evening was held at The Keys restaurant in Huddersfield. The Keys is actually the crypt of St Peter’s Church in the town centre and made the perfect location for an intimate gathering which suited the evening immensely.
It was heartwarming to see how many people had come out and braved the weather in order to support this worthy charity. I am always a little nervous when it comes to comedy after all people’s ideas of humour can vary wildly in fact even in our house we are split in terms of what we find humourous so we settled in with a couple of drinks and enjoyed the pie and pea supper. My daughter not a huge pork pie lover wanted to know where they got the pies from and enjoyed a second helping. I am not sure how many comedy evenings have ever been held in crypts but the low ceilings certainly added to the atmosphere possibly the only thing lacking was an actual stage. Instead the two performers did their acts in a clearing in the centre of the room which worked just aswell. Neil drifted around the room greeting his guests and making everyone feel welcome and I have to say you really do appreciate the family feeling that the charity and its supporters cultivate at these gatherings. Rachel was not with us last night instead she was home caring for the couples other children to allow the grandparents a night out to enjoy the show.
The compere for the evening was Riley who was more than the average warm up act and could easily have been qualified as a third name on the billing.
The two comedians were the perfect balance for the crowd gathered Kai Humphries was a risqué Geordie who had my other half in stitches as he told jokes about sex, relationships. The highlight for me were the alternating advice on relationships gleaned for his two grandfathers or as he described the angel and devils on his shoulders all told while doing a rubic’s cube.
The only real judge of comedy is the laughter in the room and there was plenty of that from all corners of the room.
The second performer was Mrs Barbara Nice and I have to say she had me in stitches. She reminded me of a mad aunt who was not afraid to comment on life in the way most of us think but are too politically correct to comment on.She talked about relationships, the problems of growing older and general social commentary. She had the whole room up on their feet joining in singing, dancing and clapping along.
All in all it was a wonderful evening everyone had a good laugh and went home happy and the real winners of course are the families that will benefit from the brilliant night out we enjoyed.
It is a real testament to the trust that they pull off these events and i look forward to enjoying many more that I can come back and share with you here. You can also check out their facebook page here and see the other things they get up to including Marathons, half marathons, swims and maybe even if you don’t live near enough to come to one of their wonderful events you might consider sponsoring some of the people competing in these various events or even just click like and spread the word,
And in the spirit of sharing just so you can see what we got up to I took a quick video sadly the sound is not brilliant but enjoy.