Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year - Let's Beat Bowel Cancer in 2016

A very Happy New Year, I hope your 2016 be full of happiness, laughter, fun, love, peace and the very best of times.

On New Years Day, 2016, the Lives & Times book had raised £707.38 for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, which is totally due to the fantastic and generous support of everyone who has bought the book so far. My heart felt thanks to everyone...

2015 was certainly a roller-coaster of a year. In February Mum had another procedure on her left lung to remove a secondary cancerous tumour related from the bowel cancer of 2012. She made a great recovery and was soon back to riding her horse (not bad for a 79 year old) and sunning herself on the Greek Islands. Unfortunately as the year drew to a close the cancer returned on her left lung, and then the news got worse when the cancer spread. On Jan 4th Mum begins three consecutive days of "cyber knife" treatment to zap the tumours and then all being well she will face another operation to remove a tumour from her lung. Mum typifies so many of the people with cancer. She has the most amazing positive attitude and is absolutely determined to beat it. I have nothing but admiration for Mum and those like her. At the same time I don't lose sight of the fact it has been another year when many people have lost their courageous battles with cancer. The bowel cancer community is the most warm spirited compassionate bunch of people I have ever known, and their support for each other, the book and Mum is wonderful.

Going back a couple of years I had thought the book would be published by the end of 2014. However as 2015 began I was still chasing Gabby Logan and Jonathan Agnew, and more and more people were agreeing to be part of it, including Lorraine Kelly, so this success in attracting new people meant publication didn't happen until November 27th. The Lives & Times fundraising book for Beating Bowel Cancer is one of the proudest achievements of my entire life. So many fascinating experiences all put together in one book. Available in paperback, hardback and digital eBook. The Lives & Times can be bought in three different formats. Here is the breakdown on how you can order your copy. Please support this book and ALL the proceeds I receive are donated to the charity.

Hardback Edition
  • Bowel Cancer Fundraising Website. This is the website I have set up. The book costs £25 + P&P of which the £8-£10 I receive will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer.
  • Amazon. The book costs £32.50 of which the approx £4.80 I receive will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer.
Paperback Edition
  • Bowel Cancer Fundraising Website. My website. The book costs £10 + P&P of which the £5 I receive will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer.
  • Amazon. The book costs £10 of which the approx £2.50 I receive will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer.
Ebook Edition
  • Amazon. The digital edition for the kindle is only available on Amazon at the moment. There are free kindle apps that can run on your iPads and laptops. The book costs £5 of which the approx £3.00 I receive will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer.
Finally I am quite happy to sell physical copies of the hardback and paperback editions directly bypassing the websites. Please contact me on email me at and we can arrange it on there.

I would like to thank everyone for the encouragement and support given so far. I am hoping people will decide to buy the hardback and paperback editions through me or my website to maximize the profits, but every purchase makes a difference. Please support me on this venture. It's taken over 18 months to put this book together and it's fantastic to finally see it come to fruition.

So who are the people featured in the book...
  • Sir Steve Redgrave CBE
  • Katherine Grainger CBE
  • Phil Parkes
  • Jonathan Agnew
  • Lorraine Kelly
  • Christopher Biggins
  • Matthew Wright
  • Freya North
  • Ben Richards
  • Carrie Grant
  • Gail Porter
  • Alan Davies
  • Shaun Keaveny
  • Mike Read
  • John Shuttleworth
  • Tom Rosenathal
  • Antonia Maariconda
  • Status Quo
  • The Stranglers
  • The Alarm
  • Clare Grogan
  • Mikes Hunt& Erica Nockalls
  • Horace Panter
  • My Mum!
And so very much more.... Over 100 photos and about 45,000 words.

Please help me in doing my small bit in helping to beat bowel cancer and raising bowel cancer awareness.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

STOMP Supporting The Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book

Alua Nascimento, pictured above with his copy of Lives & Times, is a Brazilian multi-instrumentalist who is appearing in the hit London stage show STOMP. It's the most experience that combines dance, comedy and music. Dustbins, brooms, kitchen sinks are all used to create a unique rhythmic experience. I contacted the show after I had been to see the production, and I was delighted when some of the cast agreed to meet me. I met Alua along with Paul Bend and Hugo Cortes one afternoon to photograph them for the book. The guys couldn't have been more helpful, and were happy to do some shots on stage with me before we had a long chat about their careers and the production. It was absolutely fascinating and made for quite a unique chapter in the book. I am not going to reveal too much here, but the chapter and photos are well worth a read...

The book fundraising tally for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity is now heading towards £700. The dream is to hit the £1000 mark, and with the kindness and generosity shown by everyone so far I believe that it is achievable. To see all the ways you can order the book click here. ALL proceeds are dobated to Beating Bowel Cancer.

Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Book Featured in Maidenhead United Match Day Programme

In the Lives & Times book I did a kind of then and now chapter on Maidenhead United, which is my home town club. My grandfather, Jack Darvell, was associated with the club during the 1930/40s and so I combined that era with meeting up with last season's manager Drax Hippolyte to create one of the more personal chapters in the book.

The club, or more specifically Steve Jinman, put together this great article on the book which was included in the match day programme for the game against Hemel Hempstead on December 28th, on page 18 to be exact. I went along to the game with my brother and met up with Steve. The game ended up in a 3-2 home defeat for Maidenhead. They looked down and out being 3-0 down at half time, but pulled the score back to 3-2 and then missed a last minute penalty! It was certainly entertaining.

The support for the book since publication has been terrific with over £650 raised so far and articles like this are a great way of spreading the message about the book. I should add that, apart from Steve's help, the chapter in the book would not have been possible to write without the invaluable help of the club's historian Mark Smith, who I also met up with during half time.

To see how you can buy a copy of the book click here.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Can A Book About Bowel Cancer Be Heartwarming & Uplifting?

Can A Book About Bowel Cancer Be Heartwarming & Uplifting? In a nutshell yes! The idea behind writing Lives & Times was not to produce a book that dwelled too much on what is a horrible illness that is taking far too many lives each year. Yet at the same time I very much wanted bowel cancer to be a constant theme in the book. For anyone who has come into contact with bowel cancer and think that this book is not for them, I totally respect that, but it might pleasantly surprise you... 

What I have learned over the last three years since Mum began her battle with bowel cancer is that the bowel cancer community is a wonderfully warm and giving community who are always there to support people in their hour of need. Many friendships have been made and news ones are being made all the time. This certainly gave me the confidence to approach people for the book where bowel cancer had been a part of their lives.

If you look at the photo you will see smiles in pretty much every photo. This uplifting and heartwarming reaction I got when meeting people certainly carried through to the writing. I have met people who have beaten bowel cancer, and I have met people who have sadly lost loved ones. It has been the most incredible and inspirational journey I have ever been on. 

I have been truly touched by the reaction of everyone who has bought the book so far. The messages of support have been amazing and the complimentary comments have made me feel quite emotional at times.

To see how you can buy a copy of the book click here. I have already donated £500 to Beating Bowel Cancer and there is another £100 raised this week. ALL proceeds are donated to the charity.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Status Quo -The Frantic Four - On Board The Lives & Times Fundraising Book

To see how you can buy the Lives & Times fundraising book for Beating Bowel Cancer click here.

In March 2014 I emailed a request to Status Quo's manager Simon Porter requesting to meet and photograph the band. To my astonishment the response was a "yes". This had been the very first request I had sent to anyone famous to be in the book, and how easy was that! Of course the reality was somewhat different with many rejections along the way to completing the book. However every time someone agreed to be in it, the feeling of elation that I got was always the same.

The classic Frantic Four Status Quo line-up of Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan was touring for the second year running, and billed as the final tour they would do. In spite of a huge demand from fans that still remains the case 18 months on. The management offered me the experience of photographing the band from the press pit at the Hammersmith Apollo on this tour. It really felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity and I had such a great time. I managed to take about 200 photos during the first three songs that you are allowed in the pit for. I was then ejected from the venue! The full story along with some of the very best photos appears in the charity book I have produced to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, and I am really happy with the results. My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and as Christmas 2015 approaches she is still battling secondary cancer from the bowel cancer. The book is full of my experiences photographing famous people and all the proceeds raised from sales are donated to the charity. The photo below gives shows just how close to stage I was... 

John Coghlan very kindly sent me a video message of support for the book. Thanks Quo! :)

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Lives & Times Book Helping to Beat Bowel Cancer

To see where and how to order the book click here.

The first two weeks of the book's life since publication have been an outstanding success. This is entirely down to the support of the many family, friends and complete strangers who have bought it so far. Today I have been able to make the first donation to Beating Bowel Cancer from the royalties I have received so far. Thanks to everyone I have been able to donate £500 on Justgiving, which is far beyond my expectations.

I am trying very hard not to set myself too many targets. The book itself being out there in the public domain is helping to raise awareness about bowel cancer, which is massively important. These proceeds are based on sales through my website and for purchases made directly through me. There have also been quite a few sales through Amazon and other online stores, and I have to wait three months for these payments to come through to me, so there will be more to come from there as well as from the ongoing sales I achieve. The marketing of the book is a massive challenge as it's pretty much me on my own. I am using social media to the max, contacted media organisations (not so successful to date), and I have also had some marvellous support from people featured in the book. The biggest challenge that remains is to try and get the book past friends and family and generate some more sales out in the big wide world. It just needs one lucky break.

The feedback for the book so far has been terrific, which has certainly made the 18 month journey of putting it together very worthwhile. Mum's health has not been brilliant, and she is currently under treatment again for secondary cancer from the bowel cancer. She remains very upbeat and positive, and is still able to ride her horse Shimara, which is her lovely escape route from everything.

To see just some of the people featured in the book click here

Monday, 7 December 2015

Who The Beating Bowel Cancer Charity Is?

Many people will know that I have been fundraising for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity since 2012. So who are Beating Bowel Cancer? On the charity's website you can find the following information on the Who We Are section. ALL proceeds raised from sales of the Lives & Times fundraising book will be donated to the charity. To see how you can order the book click here.

Beating Bowel Cancer is the support and campaigning charity for everyone affected by bowel cancer.
We provide vital practical and emotional help - on the phone, digitally and face to face. We're proud to run the UK's only nurse-led specialist helpline for bowel cancer which patients call a 'lifeline'.

We bring patients with bowel cancer together to share invaluable experience and support, through our website, social media and major events.

Our high impact campaigns have led to the introduction of the bowel cancer screening programme, which is helping save lives, as well as new funding and greater patient access to life-changing cancer treatments.

What we do
·         We provide practical and emotional support for the growing number of people affected by bowel cancer

·         We bring people with bowel cancer together to share experiences and create a powerful voice for change

·         We promote early diagnosis of bowel cancer

·         We campaign for the highest quality treatment and care for bowel cancer patients

·         We raise money to fund our vital work

Our vision is:
A world where bowel cancer is beaten

Our mission is:
Beating Bowel Cancer Together

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

In The Press

After 18 months of meeting and photographing people, the Lives & Times fundraising book for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity was published on November 27th. It's got off to a decent start, and I should be able to make a pretty decent donation to the charity during December. The book was featured in the Maidenhead Advertiser last week who ran a great piece. I have been trying to get interest from other media outlets, but nothing has happened yet.

The book features a collection of photographs of various people, and anecdotal stories about the photos. The process of putting the book together started back in March 2014 when I photographed Status Quo from the photo pit at the Hammersmith Apollo, and since then I have met up with and snapped many famous people who have all very kindly given up their time to support the book. Among those featured in the book are Steve Redgrave, Katherine Grainger, Lorraine Kelly, Freya North, Ben Richards, Mick Channon, Gabby Logan, Matthew Wright, Christopher Biggins, Carrie Grant, Johnathan Agnew, Gail Porter, Alan Davies, Mike Read, Shaun Keaveny, Horace Panter, The Stranglers, The Alarm, Dodgy, Antonia Mariconda, Nadine Dorries and Clare Grogan. The book also features many everyday people photos including a chapter on my Mum. The book is available on my own website,, and on Amazon. To find out how you can order the book click here. Absolutely every penny I receive in royalties is being donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

I have been supporting Beating Bowel Cancer since 2012, as it was then that my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer. In September 2012 she had a section of her bowel removed and then at the start of 2013 she underwent two further operations on her lungs where she had a cancerous nodule ,which was a secondary bowel cancer. She remained in remission for about 18 months, but unfortunately in November 2014 another cancerous nodule appeared on one of her lungs. She underwent surgery in February which was successful, and made a fantastic recovery. Unfortunately her recent CT scan revealed that the cancer has come back and she is undergoing more treatment. The treatment and care she has received throughout has been wonderful. Information about the charity and the work that is does can be found by clicking here.

Following mum's first operation I decided to try and give something back, so at the end of 2012 I published a book of various photos, and the stories behind them called "Beating Bowel Cancer". It is still available to buy on Amazon and my site, and all proceeds raised are donated to the charity.