Saturday, 31 December 2016

Raising Bowel Cancer Awareness

To see how to buy the Lives & Times book click here.

It wasn’t until I published the first book, Beating Bowel Cancer, in 2012 that I realised just how important it is to help raise awareness about bowel cancer. Initially I thought the job of the book was to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. After a few weeks when the sales started to drop off I was left feeling a little flat, as I wondered what next? The charity were amazing, and they pointed out that as well as raising money, the book was also doing a great job about raising awareness. The penny then dropped! Since then I try do to as much as I can to help raise bowel cancer awareness.
I have to be totally honest that until Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2012 I knew precious little about bowel cancer. Over the last 4 years I have got to know a lot more about the disease, and it has become clear how important it is to raise the awareness of this disease. Sadly Mum passed away on August 29th, 2016. The information is readily available out there but how many people actually actively seek it or are even aware of it? The Beating Bowel Cancer charity which I am supporting has excellent information on its website just click here, and it is from their website that I have sourced my facts. 

The basic facts are that bowel cancer is the 2nd biggest cancer killer in the UK, and 41,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and it claims 16,000 lives. If diagnosed early 90% of cases can be treated successfully. Whilst it is more common to affect people over 50, it is increasingly affecting younger people.

The symptoms can include a persistent change in bowel habit, bleeding from the bottom, abdominal pain, a lump in your tummy, and unexplained weight loss and tiredness.

Risk factors include a high intake of saturated fats, processed or red meat. Drinking more than 4 units of alcohol per day, being overweight, and having an immediate relative with bowel cancer all could increase the chances of being affected by it.

To reduce the risk eat or healthy diet with plenty of fruit, regular exercise to reduce weight, cut down on alcohol, and be aware of any change in bowel habits. My Mum recognised a change in her bowel habit and when she was sent to have an endoscopy the bowel cancer was discovered.

In November 2015 I published Lives & Times, of which all the proceeds I receive are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The amount raised so far stands at over £3250. The idea of photographing people for it was not just about trying to generate more sales. By hopefully reaching a wider audience it will help spread the message about bowel cancer. The people who feature in the book gave up their time and services for free, and many of them have also helped to promote the book, thereby spreading the message about bowel cancer as far and wide as is possible. Some of these people such as Ben Richards have beaten the illness, whilst others like Freya North, Matthew Wright and Christopher Biggins have lost people to it. The message is clear, that by raising bowel cancer awareness, more people can be detected early and lives can be saved.
By raising awareness about bowel cancer we can share the message that bowel cancer, bums and poo are nothing to be embarrassed about, and learning the symptoms and acting on them could save lives.
If just one person gets checked out and has their life saved as a result of reading the Beating Bowel Cancer or Lives & Times books, or any other bowel cancer literature / raising awareness scheme then the efforts become so worthwhile.
When you go to the loo don’t forget to check your poo!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

MP Nadine Dorries part of the Lives & Times bowel cancer charity book

When I began writing Lives & Times I tried contacting a few of the local politicians in Berkshire where I live. I was somewhat disappointed when I didn't get one single reply, and this included my own Reading East MP Rob Wilson and my Mum's Maidenhead MP none other than Theresa May... So I gave up on the idea of including MPs in the book. However this was to change when I came into contact with Nadine Dorries, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire. Through an exchange of messages on Twitter I found out that she had bought my first book Beating Bowel Cancer. With nothing to lose I asked Nadine if she would be in the new book and I was delighted when she agreed. Nadine had in fact lost a close friend to bowel cancer, so she was keen to support the book project.

The chapter in the book describes exactly what happened. It was an amazing experience that was very typical of many in the book. I thought that Nadine would meet me at her constituency office, but instead I was invited up to the Houses of Parliament and I met her on outside terrace that overlooks the River Thames. Over the course of an hour I went through tunnels under Parliament Square, had tea with Nadine and ended up being given a grilling by an armed police officer. It's all in the book!

Nadine is of course also a very successful author in her own right. I look on in envy at her wonderfully high rankings on the Amazon best sellers list, and I can only dream for such success. It would be nice to borrow just a few of her avid readers for Lives & Times. Her support throughout has been brilliant and it was fantastic meeting Nadine.

My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 ans in spite of successful surgery to remove the tumour she went on to suffer from secondary cancer from the bowel in her lungs and brain. She went through a number of operations and endured each treatment without complaint. She fought with courage and great dignity for 4 years, but sadly she finally lost her battle with bowel cancer on August 29th. I am carrying on with my fundraising and raising bowel cancer awareness.

Please support the book. To see how you can buy a copy click here. ALL proceeds raised are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Olympic gold medalist Dame Katherine Grainger features in bowel cancer fundraising book

Five-time Olympic medalist Dame Katherine Grainger has been a big supporter of the book. Her historic silver medal at Rio 2016 makes her Britain's most successful ever female Olympian. I sent a copy of Lives & Times to Katherine earlier in the year, and she sent me this great photo of herself in GB attire holding the book. Fortunately she was also very complimentary about it. When I first contacted Katherine about being in the book she was in the process of deciding whether or not to return to rowing and aim for Rio 2016. She was honest enough to say at that time she wouldn't be able to be in the book. As things transpired the publication date ended up being a year later that I originally planned due to the success of getting people to be in the book. So I contacted Katherine once again and with the time factor not being so critical she happily agreed to be in the book.

We arranged to do the photo for the book during the 2015 Henley Royal Regatta, but things didn't quite go to plan. Going into the final day on the Sunday I still hadn't been given any arrangements from Katherine, who understandably was in great demand during the regatta, so I was beginning to think it wasn't meant to be. Then right at the end of the afternoon I spotted Katherine watching the prize giving presentations, and it was one of those moments which you just have to go for, so I went and introduced myself to her. Those who know me, will know that this is the least typical behaviour you would normally expect from me. Katherine couldn't have been nicer and we had a nice chat and were able to take a photo of her by the river. She also posed for a photo with the Beating Bowel Cancer tie.

Just before the book was published in November, Katherine sent me a video message with a message for the book. It was an idea I'd had to get some of the people in the book to record a short video to help with the promotion. Once again Katherine was a great sport.

It was a devastating blow when Mum lost her four and half year battle with bowel bowel cancer at the end of August. She peacefully passed away with me, my brother and sister at her bedside. She was brave, courageous and dignified throughout the long fight. I knew pretty much straight away that I would not be stopping my fundraising and Lives & Times is now a book dedicated to the memory of my wonderful mother. Please support this book as every sale counts both in raising money and raising awareness about bowel cancer. The book, and the recently produced screen prints, have so far raised over £3000 for Beating Bowel Cancer. I am so proud that Mum got to see the finished book.

Over the course of 18 months I met and photographed people from all walks of life to form the chapters of Lives & Times. Every single person taking part has given up their own time to do it and all funds raised go to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. As well as Gabby, others included are, Sir Steve Redgrave, Katherine Grainger, Jonathan Agnew, Nadine Dorries, Lorraine Kelly, Christopher Biggins, Matthew Wright, Freya North, Gail Porter, Alan Davies, Shaun Keaveny, Carrie Grant, Mike Read, Status Quo, The Stranglers, The Alarm, Clare Grogan and many others.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Lives & Times Meets Antonia Mariconda for Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book

It was during the summer of 2015 that I spent an amazing evening in the swanky W Hotel off Leicester Square meeting and photographing Antonia Mariconda @CosmedicCoach for the Lives & Times bowel cancer fundraising book. Antonia was there to help launch a new app called the Beauty Tracker designed to help patients buy cosmetic surgery treatments safely. This was surely one of the most unexpected photos in the book for me, in so much as I think I could have lived to be 100 and never gone to any event like this without having done the book. A lovely champagne reception and I was looked after very well by Antonia. I had linked up with her on social media, and she was keen to be involved with the book. I have learnt an awful lot from her in the positive ways to use social media and networking to promote and sell the book. 

We were also photographed by professional photographer Joe Alvarez who was covering the event. It's not often that I have been photographed in such a way if ever! I also met Doctor Hilary Jones, who was a really nice man. In fact it was a lovely crowd there.

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. Mum remained in remission for about 18 months, but unfortunately in November 2014 another cancerous nodule appeared on her left lung. She underwent surgery in February 2015 which was successful, and made a fantastic recovery. Unfortunately her October CT scan revealed that the cancer had once again come back on her left lung and more bad news followed in November following a seizure we found out that the cancer had spread to her brain. Mum had "CyberKnife" treatment in January 2016 for the brain cancer. Two months later she had more lung surgery, this time to remove the lower lob of her left lung where the cancer kept returning to. Sadly the treatment on the brain cancer was only partially successful, and a seizure in June 2016 left her virtually paralysed down her her right side and severely affected her speech. Following the seizure she spent almost 6 weeks in hospital where we had the devastating news that her condition became terminal. She moved into a nursing home for end of life palliative care where she spent the last month of her life. The staff there were brilliant and she got the 24/7 care that she needed. She passed away peacefully on August 29th, 2016 a week after celebrating her 80th birthday,

I would like to thank Antonia for her continued support. She was really keen to do something for Mum when she found out about her terminal condition, but sadly Mum passed away before this could happen.

Lives & Times has now raised over £3250 for Beating Bowel Cancer. All proceeds are donated to the charity so please support the book and the recent stunning screen print both of which are available on my website.

Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book Sale Now On...

The Lives &Times book sale is now on until January 2nd. Prices of both the paperback and hardback editions of the book have been reduced on my website. All proceeds raised from sales of the book are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, which is the charity I have been supporting since my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. Sadly Mum lost her 4 year battle with this awful illness on August 29th, but this has only served to make me more determined to continue with the fundraising and to help raise awareness about bowel cancer.

It was the first Christmas without Mum, and having lost Dad in 2009 it was a complete change and very different to not have parents around at my favourite time of the year. However I have to say that I had a lovely time with friends and family. Everything got changed at the 11th hour as one of the dogs was diagnosed with cancer the week before Christmas. So the one down side was not being able to go for Christmas lunch with my sister and her family. Of course it was not a case of forgetting about Mum, but more to remember those happy festive moments with a fond smile. Her hopeless attempts at lighting the Christmas pudding each year, the useless Christmas crackers she had an amazing ability to find, how could she miscalculate the amount of roast potatoes and the list could go on and on... She was an amazing lady, and is hugely missed. But I know that I am going to be ok and will try to make her and dad proud in whatever I do...

The new fundraising book is underway and work will continue on it during 2017, but please continue to support Lives & Times, which is a heartwarming and inspirational read. Yes it mentions bowel cancer, but focuses very much on the amazing experiences I had meeting and photographing so many wonderful people.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

RIP Rick Parfitt from Status Quo

It was with great sadness today that I learned of the passing of Rick Parfitt from Status Quo. Lives & Times was published in November, 2015 and sadly during 2016 three people featured in the book have since passed away. My mother, the inspiration behind the book, lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer in August. In September the wonderful Billy Franks died quite suddenly, and now on Christmas Eve, Rick Parfitt has also been taken.

I didn't get to meet Status Quo in person when I photographed them. However it was a fantastic experience as their management organised a photo pass for me for The Frantic Four gig at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014. They were the first "celebs" I'd approached for the book and had come back with an immediate yes. I had the first three songs in the photo pit by the stage and it was without doubt the most nervous I was for any of the photos I did for the book. I took over 200 photos and here are acouple of Rick in his classic poses.

I can remember Rick catching my eye as I was I was snapping away gesturing me to photograph bass player Alan Lancaster. I can only speculate as to why he did this, but maybe he wanted to make sure that Alan and John, who had rejoined the band for the tour, were given as much attention as himself and Francis. A very unselfish attitude and that of a true gent... The result of this small gesture by Rick was that I turned towards Alan who was playing on the other end of the stage and took what I still consider to be one of the best photos in the book.

Today is a day when thoughts are naturally with Rick's family, friends and his fellow band members past and present. One of the best rhythm guitarists we have known has been lost, but has left a legacy that will not be forgotten.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Merry Christmas From Bowel Cancer Fundraising

A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the website. During 2016 the amount raised for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity has gone past £3000 and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has supported me and bought something. As well as friends and family, particular thanks is given to the bowel cancer community who have bought the book in large numbers. Another set of people I must also give special thanks to is fans of my favourite band, The Alarm, who have been incredibly supportive towards both me and the book. A special thanks to, Alarm fan, Tina Atkins who helped me sell the book at the Beating Bowel Cancer Patient Day in April. We had never met before, but she very kindly came along to help. These acts of kindness by people, of which there have been many, have combined to make the last few years incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, even in the face of Mum's health deteriorating.

Initially the website was set up to sell the Lives & Times fundraising book, and the paperback and hardback editions have sold well throughout the year. In the summer, Reigate artist, Adam Green produced a limited edition of 25 silk screen prints. These are still available on the website, and with every penny being donated to Beating Bowel Cancer from the selling price, they have made a great addition to the fundraising contributing about £1000 to the total raised so far.

Lives & Time Screen Print

Sadly 2016 saw my mother lose her 4 year battle with bowel cancer. She fought with great courage and dignity throughout and passed away peacefully on August 29th a week after celebrating her 80th birthday. I am sure Christmas will be a time of much happiness as it always has been in our family, though of course not without some sadness this time around, the first one without Mum.

Mum 22/08/1936 to 29/09/2016

2017 is going to see me continue work on the new fundraising book. No title yet and no completion date, but it is going to be based on similar lines to Lives & Times. With that in mind I feel the ending of this year is now the right time to scale down the promotion of Lives & Times and concentrate on the new book. I will continue to post new blogs here as and when there is something to say. But in the main the focus for 2017 is very much going to be one of looking forwards for me. This means that on both Facebook and Twitter I am going to have to come up with other things to say now! 😊

2016, sadly, also saw the passing of another person I photographed for Lives & Times. Singer and songwriter, Billy Franks, passed away in September. A wonderful musician, but more importantly a very kind and lovely man. 

Billy Franks at The Union Chapel, 2014

Please take a look at the shop on the website. I am currently offering free postage on all items, and I have reduced the price of Lives & Times as well. All proceeds raised from sales of everything are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Lives & Times Christmas Offer

Good news for anyone wanting to support the Lives & Times bowel cancer fundraising book and also the artwork and printed mug that are for sale on my website. Firstly the price of the Lives & Times book has been reduced over the Christmas and New Year period. The hardback now sells for £24.99 and the paperback is selling for £9.99. The second piece of good news for people buying stuff from the website in the UK is that everything now has free shipping! No nasty hidden charges when you come to checkout. So there never has been a better time to support my fundraising. 100% of the proceeds raised from sales on the website are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK claiming 16,000 lives each year. Yet if detected early it is very treatable with a survival rate of over 90%. There is still so much work to do in raising awareness about this awful illness. Even if you are not interested in purchasing the book please take a look at the Beating Bowel Cancer website as it just might save your life..

My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, and she had a successful operation to remove the tumour from her bowel. Over the next 4 years she had further operations to remove secondary cancerous nodules from her lungs. On November 27th 2015, the very day that I published Lives & Times, Mum had a seizure, which was when it was discovered that the cancer had also spread to her brain. She underwent cyberknife treatment, but one of the two lesions on her brain did not respond and her condition slowly deteriorated. She fought long and hard with courage and dignity, but sadly she peacefully passed away on August 29th, 2016. The fundraising continues and all support is greatly appreciated. Please have a look on the website.

Over the course of 18 months I met and photographed people from all walks of life to form the chapters of Lives & Times. The book features a collection of portrait photographs of various people, and anecdotal stories about the photos. All proceeds are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Every single person taking part in this book has given up their own time to do it and all funds raised go to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Among those included are Katherine Grainger CBE, Sir Steve Redgrave, Gabby Logan, Jonathan Agnew, Nadine Dorries, Lorraine Kelly, Christopher Biggins, Matthew Wright, Freya North, Gail Porter, Alan Davies, Shaun Keaveny, Mike Read, Status Quo, The Stranglers, The Alarm, Clare Grogan, and many others.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Lives & Times 2016 Christmas Video

It's time to reveal the updated Lives & Times Christmas 2016 video to promote the book this festive season. A lot has happened during 2016, but of course losing Mum to bowel cancer in August has overshadowed everything else. The video has been updated to reflect this, but at the same time focuses on the book and the fundraising for Beating Bowel Cancer. The book would made a wonderful Christmas present this year, and at the same time all proceeds raised are donated to the charity. So go on over to my website and support the book.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Lives & Times Meets Tom Rosenthal

I made a rather difficult tube trip to Arsenal to meet up with and photograph comedy actor and writer Tom Rosenthal after earlier having met Christopher Biggins in central London back in April 2015. Covent Garden tube station was closed to passengers entering so I had to walk to Leicester Square, and then there was a signal problem on the Piccadilly Line. So a journey that should have taken me about 20 minutes took twice as long, but I got there just about on time to meet up with Tom. We went to the same school, Reading Blue Coat, although I have a few years head start on him!

We are both fans of Arsenal so it made sense to me at the stadium to do the photo. We just missed out on the setting sun which was a shame, but we still managed to get some good photos, and the one in the book features Tom standing by a statue of Arsenal legend Herbert Chapman.

No messing from Tom with the bowel cancer tie, and he was happy to wear it like a tie should be worn. When we met, Tom was working hard on his recent BBC Three comedy series Flat TV. 

It was also interesting to discover that Tom supports a Sepsis charity. This medical condition can be fatal, and sadly my dad died from it after having contacted pneumonia in 2009. It's another illness that needs talking about and have awareness raised about it.

My mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. She had a successful operation to remove a tumour from her bowel. Unfortunately the cancer spread to her lungs and then to her brain. After a brave and courageous 4 year battle she peacefully passed away on August 29th. Please support this fundraising book as every sale counts both in raising money and raising awareness about bowel cancer.

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Perfect Stocking Filler This Christmas Supporting Beating Bowel Cancer

For Christmas 2016 why not treat someone to a copy of the Lives & Times fundraising book in support of the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The cost of the paperback and hardback have been reduced on my website to £9.99 & £24.99 respectively and with free postage in the UK. ALL proceeds raised from sales are being donated to the charity and it really does make the perfect stocking filler.

The book is a heartwarming and uplifting read inspired by my own mother's battle with bowel cancer. Sadly Mum lost her brave and courageous 4 year battle with cancer at the end of August. As well as raising funds for the charity the book is helping to raise awareness about this awful disease. Bowel cancer is the 2nd highest cancer killer in the UK, but is one of the most treatable if detected early with a 90% survival rate. If one person gets checked out and successfully treated as a result of reading the book then it will have more than done its job.

Lives & Times features photographs of celebrities who came together to help beat bowel cancer. Each photo is accompanied by the anecdotal story behind the meeting. It was not just celebrities who supported the project and the book also features chapters on some amazing and fascinating everyday people. Everyone gave up their free time to take in the book. It took 18 months to complete and contains over 100 photos and 44,000 words. To date the book and other items on the website have raised over £3100.

The book is available in hardback, paperback and eBook formats and can be purchased from and AMAZON. To see all the ways to buy the book click here.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Vapors Back On Stage in 2016

So here's something I never thought I would get to see. Dave Fenton back on stage performing with The Vapors. Last night I went to the Wolverhampton gig of their 2016 tour. It meant a round trip of over 200 miles, but there was no way I was going to miss going to see them on this tour. They were on superb form. Dave alongside original members Ed Bazalgette and Steve Smith with new drummer Michael Bowes played everything you could have wished for. From a personal point of view I was looking forward to hearing News at Ten and Letter From Hiro and they were indeed the high points of a fantastic evening for me. I am looking forward to seeing them play live again in 2017.

About 18 months ago I went up to London to meet and photograph Dave for the book. It's interesting just how much things can change in that period of time. Back then he was working as the in-house lawyer at the |Musician's Union and said he rarely played the guitar at all. Since then he has retired and life has changed a great deal allowing him the opportunity to perform with the band again, Ed is now a highly successful director so I'm thinking he could be on my hit list for me new book. Of course 18 months has seen big change for me too. In August my Mum lost her 4 year brave and courageous battle with bowel cancer. The cancer had spread to her brain and she passed away a week after her 80th birthday. The new fundraising book is being done in her memory. When we met Dave's brother was beginning treatment for lung cancer, but sadly by the time I published the book he had passed away. Another example of just how awful cancer is. 

I decided to try and track Dave down for the book after I had spoken with Mike Read about Jimmie Jones, which was a minor hit for the band. We met up outside Westminster tube station and Dave was extremely helpful and happy to let me choose the location. There could only be one place for me to take the photo, and that was with Big Ben in the background. So the photo in thee book is a belter! The Vapors best single in my opinion was News At Ten, and the picture sleeve of the single was the classic ITV image of Big Ben striking 10 o'clock for their news programme.

We were able to chat about not just the band and some of the difficulties they had at the time with record companies, but life after the band finished and his life working at the Musician's Union and the problems the bands of today face. All in all it was a fascinating experience, and a great chapter to get for the book.

David sent me a photo of himself with his copy of the book, so it's fascinating looking at these contrasting photos seeing Dave at work and now of course back on stage. 

Lives & Times has now raised over £2600 for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. To see how you can order the book, which is available as an eBook, paperback and hardback, click here.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Alan Davies Features in the Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book

Alan Davies was a great addition to the Lives & Times book. I got to meet up with at Reading Hexagon when he was on his Little Victories tour in 2014. It was fascinating turning up to the venue and getting to talk to and photograph him with not another soul in the house. Alan was another one of the celebrities who I had made contact with on Twitter, and had immediately said yes to my request. He only really found out the fundraising I was doing for Beating Bowel Cancer when we met, so he was a top man for taking a chance on meeting this unknown person on Twitter...

When I met Alan my mother was in remission from bowel cancer. She had successful surgery for bowel cancer in 2012, and then on her lungs in early 2013. It was towards the end of 2014, a few weeks after meeting Alan, that the cancer returned. Mum fought bravely and hard, but in spite of having a couple more lung operations the cancer kept coming back. In November 2015 the cancer spread to her brain and ultimately this proved to be a battle that she couldn't win, and she peacefully passed away a couple of months ago on August 29th. 

The book, along with the silk screen prints, has done amazingly well thanks to the generosity of everybody. It has raised over £2650 for the charity so far. Please continue to support it as it would be fantastic to push on towards to £3000. All proceeds raised from sales are donated to the charity. I am in the early stages of putting together a new book scheduled for 2018...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

My Mum Loses Her Long Battle With Bowel Cancer

Two months ago on Monday August 29th my wonderful, brave and courageous Mum lost her long battle with bowel cancer. She died peacefully and I was at her bedside with my brother and sister as she passed away. She was aged 80 years and 7 days having celebrated her 80th birthday the week before.

For the last few weeks of her life she had been living at the St Marks Nursing Home in Maidenhead on an NHS Continuous Care end of life path package. I cannot emphasise enough how brilliant the staff were there, ensuring that Mum's last few weeks were happy ones and that she didn't suffer. I take great comfort that she is now at peace and is with my Dad.

Her positive attitude towards her four and a half year fight with bowel cancer was truly inspirational and she lived her life to the absolute maximum. Even towards the end when her health was failing she would go down to the garden each evening in her wheelchair and enjoy a glass of wine. She was an absolute rock for the family and we will miss her terribly. 

The funeral was on 21st September at St John the Evangelist Church, Littlewick Green, Maidenhead. Mum specified that the dress code should be bright colours. The church was full and as terribly sad as it was to say goodbye to her, it was a fitting celebration of her wonderful life. Thank you to everyone who came paying their respects and supporting myself, Noel and Ali.

I will be continuing to fund raise for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity and raise awareness about bowel cancer.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Eddie Macdonald & Nigel Twist of The Alarm Reunite For Lives & Times

Just over two years ago in October 2014 I met up with Nigel Twist and Eddie Macdonald from The Alarm in Central London to capture them for the Lives & Times fundraising book supporting the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Interestingly the date also marked the 11th anniversary of The Alarm's reunion gig at The Scala.

Eddie was one of the first people I approached to take part in the book, and he immediately came back to me with an enthusiastic yes. It was Eddie's idea to do the photo with Nigel who was on a rare visit to the UK from the United States. Since the band split in 1991 Eddie has established himself as a highly respected professional photographer, and Nigel is a Senior Investigator at the San Francisco Public Defenders Office.

It was great being able to chat the guys about The Alarm. I had not met either of them before in spite of being a huge fan of their music for over 30 years. With Eddie also being a professional photographer there was a little bit of added pressure for me to get the photo right, but they were both lovely and made me feel so relaxed. We even grabbed a passer by to take a picture of the three of us.

This year has also seen a welcome return to music scene for Eddie with his new musical project Smalltown Glory and the release of the brilliant The Tenement Commandments EP Vol. 1 I think everyone who has heard it is now eagerly awaiting more music. Nigel also made a guest appearance on the EP. Even going back to October 2014, when we met, I remember Eddie talking to Nigel about the new songs he was recording. I also managed to photograph Mike Peters and Dave Sharp for the book completing the original line-up of The Alarm.

Ultimately the reason why Eddie and Nigel, and if fact everyone in the book came on board, was to help raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The book also helps to raise awareness about bowel cancer, which is the 2nd highest cancer killer in the UK, and yet one of most treatable if detected early. Lives & Times is the second book I have published for the charity that I have supporting since my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. Mum fought a long, hard and courageous battle, but sadly she lost her battle with the cancer on August 29th. It's been a terribly sad time and just devastating, but it just serves to  increase my determination to carry on fundraising and raising awareness about bowel cancer.

Please support the book and the recently released silk screen prints. Over £3000 has been raised so far. Both are available on my website.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Ben Richards Features in the Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book

One of the first people I approached and photographed for the Lives & Times book was the actor Ben Richards. Ben is in remission from bowel cancer, having been diagnosed in 2012, and was very enthusiastic to get involved.

In the above photo he posed with the Beating Bowel Cancer 2012 Olympic tie, which is now use to support and promote the Follow The Bowel Cancer Tie group on Facebook. You can take a look of what that is about here. I won't reveal too much of what happened when I met Ben back in 2014 and instead hope you might buy the book and read the chapter instead, because the afternoon turned into a great story in itself with me getting unique access to rehearsals for the Rock of Ages musical that Ben was about to go on tour with. Once again the support for this project never fails to surprise me and every time that I think things couldn't get any better they did!

Thanks so much to Ben for his help and support and I followed up our meeting by going to see Rock of Ages in Oxford on the tour a few months later which was fantastic. Ben is currently playing Sergeant Ben Bradley in the Channel 4 series Hollyoaks.

Similar to Ben my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. She fought bravely and with great dignity over four years. She was very positive and never complained and was happy to have any treatment that was required. It was pretty much a continual battle for her as the cancer spread to her left lung and then latterly to her brain. She sadly passed away on August 29th. 

I have no intention of stopping my fundraising for Beating Bowel Cancer so please take a look at all the fundraising products I am selling on my website. I am also in the early stages of doing a new fundraising book.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Lives & Times Screen Print at the River Thames Medmenham

I took my Lives & Times silk screen print down to Reigate, where its creator, Adam Green, put it into a frame. He has done a terrific job as it looks fantastic! I took the opportunity to go down to the River Thames at Medmenham and take a few photos of the framed print.

I am hoping when people get to see photos of the print in various locations, and hopefully from some of its new owners, that this might persuade a few people to buy one. The prints cost £125 from Adam has very generously donated them for free and Ochre Print Studio have donated the materials, so this means that the whole £125 gets donated to Beating Bowel Cancer from each sale.

The screen print is a limited edition of 25 prints. Not only would they make a lovely addition to any home, but they are also a good investment at just £125. The Lives & Times screen prints, alongside the book, have so far raised over £2650 for Beating Bowel Cancer. My mother, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, fought a long and brave battle, but sadly she passed away on August 29th. Please support the screen print and help raise funds and also awareness about bowel cancer.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Lives & Times Meets The Wonder Stuff

Back in March 2015 I went to meet and photograph Miles & Erica from The Wonder Stuff at their acoustic gig at The Railway Inn in Winchester. They were really lovely, and I got to spend a few minutes with them shortly before they went on stage. Through the wonders of Twitter, Miles had quickly responded to my book request with an enthusiastic yes, and with the help of their manager Tom it was arranged for me to go to the Winchester gig to do the photo. I got some terrific photos, a couple of which I have used in the book. Those will not be revealed here, so all I can show you here is one of the other photos I took from the gig not included in the book. You will have to buy the book and see for yourself of course :) I am now the proud owner of one of Erica's prints from her other job as an artist, and of Miles' book The Wonder Stuff Diaries '86-'89.

As soon as I met them they made me feel at ease straightaway. I got a taster of Miles' wonderful ability to tell anecdotes, which he continued to do throughout their set. The performance was amazing, and it was brilliant seeing some of the older Wonder Stuff material performed in this stripped back fashion. Like so many people who so very kindly gave up their time to be photographed for the book, Miles & Erica were great sports and posed with the Beating Bowel Cancer tie for the Facebook group that I am part of which is helping to raise awareness about bowel cancer. Have a look at the page here.

In 2016 The Wonder Stuff released a brilliant album, 30 Goes Around The Sun, which is still getting a pretty heavy hammering on my iPod. I haven't managed to get a copy of the book to them yet, but there's one waiting for them for sure.

Sadly my mother, the inspiration for doing the book, passed away last August following her long and courageous four and a half year battle with bowel cancer. She made her 80th birthday on August 22nd and peacefully passed away a week later. If anything the whole point of doing the book has been even more reinforced by this heartbreaking turn of events. Please support this fundraising book as every sale counts both in raising money and raising awareness about bowel cancer.

To see how you can purchase the Lives & Times charity book, which features a chapter on Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls click here. All the proceeds I raise are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity with over £3100 raised so far.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Lives & Times Meets Charlie Nicholas

My brother Noel was on a stag do in Edinburgh earlier this year, and on the Saturday afternoon I  was on the receiving of a slightly alcoholic fueled phone call from, Drain, one of his oldest friends. Drain has got a copy of Lives & Times and he decided to call into question my "vague recollections" as quoted from the book of the 1969 FA Cup Final. I stand by that quote as although being just three, I do have a vague memory of the game, although I wouldn't put my mortgage on it if pushed. The cheeky so and so then committed the more heinous crime of accusing me of not meeting with, Arsenal footballing legend and now SKY Sports analyst, Charlie Nicholas! 

Charlie Nicholas, as I wrote in the book, was the greatest footballer I ever saw play live. If Malcolm Macdonald was my childhood footballing hero, Charlie was the first proper hero I had when I was going to watch the games. I met Charlie for the book at a hotel in Brentford not far from SKY Sports before a European Champions League night he was covering. A nicer man you couldn't wish to meet. Having been told I might get half an hour with him, we ended up chatting for an hour or so. It was absolutely fascinating and a brilliant experience. It is one of my favourite chapters in the book so get the book and have a read.

I didn't tend to ask celebrities in the book to have my photo taken with them, but maybe after Drain's mischievous accusation it's something I should have done! The above photo was taken of Charlie with the bowel cancer tie and not used in the book, and is especially for Mark "Drain" Gillet!

Sadly my mother, the inspiration for the book, passed away in August after a four and half year battle with bowel cancer. To see all the ways to order the book click here

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Lives & Times Hardback Edition Discounted Price On Amazon

At the moment Amazon are selling the hardback edition of the Lives & Times fundraising book at the discounted price of £11.53, which is a saving over £20! That is even way below what it costs me to get the books printed. So it's a great way of buying the delux version of the book for a limited time.

There are four copies of the book available on Amazon at the moment and once they are gone the book will no doubt revert to the £35 list price on there. In some ways this must have come about as a result of almost everyone buying the hardback edition of the book through me and my website. I will still get my royalty margin from Amazon for these copies, so grab one while you can...

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book On Sale at Book Bean & Ice Cream in Kirkham

I am happy to announce that the paperback edition of the Lives & Times book is currently available to buy at the Book Bean & Ice Cream shop in Poulton Street, Kirkham near Preston. I was contacted by its owner Elaine Silverwood who was really keen to get involved. Elaine very generously ordered 10 copies of the paperback edition of the book and paid up front, so this money has already been donated to Beating Bowel Cancer. For anyone who lives in Preston / Blackpool area and wants to get hold of the book, this is a great way to get hold of a copy and support your local independent bookshop at the same time. Elaine has sent me this great photo of the book on display in the shop.

Elaine previously ran the shop as Silverdell Books before selling it last October. Elaine has recently taken it on again under the new name of Book Bean & Ice Cream and is building it back up again, so it is well worth supporting. Elaine also runs Silverwood Events which takes children's authors around schools in the North West as well as hosting unusual author and illustrator events.

The Lives & Times book, and now screen prints, have so far raised almost £2400 for Beating Bowel Cancer. My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, fought a long and brave battle, but sadly passed away on August 29th. Please support the book and help raise funds and also awareness about bowel cancer.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Lovely Letter of Condolence From Lorraine Kelly

Lorraine Kelly sporting the Beating Bowel Cancer tie

One of the final photographs I took for the book was of ITV daytime TV presenter Lorraine Kelly. It was a glorious sunny autumn morning in September 2015, and I ended up meeting Lorraine in the studio right after her daily morning show had finished.

The chapter in the book describes the experience in full, and it was absolutely fascinating spending time watching a live show from the back of the studio behind the cameras. I wasn't expecting to be able to take Loraine's photo in the studio, so that was a real bonus. She was lovely and couldn't have been more helpful and accommodating, and the studio set was even kept in place for a few extra minutes to enable me to do the photography.

I have received the most lovely letter of condolence from Lorraine. This epitomises the kindness and support I have received from so many people since Mum died, including messages from a number of people who feature in the book.

Lorraine Kelly with the Lives & Times book

I received a photo from Lorraine with her copy of the book after publication. When I met her she also very kindly did me a short video message to help with the book's promotion which you can view on youtube.

My Mum passed away on August 29th. She had been fighting bowel cancer for over four years. It was a couple of months after meeting Lorraine that Mum's cancer spread to her brain. Having undergone four lung operations in addition to the bowel operation in 2012, this was a battle that Mum sadly couldn't win. She fought with great courage and dignity. The final brain seizure at the beginning of June had pretty much paralysed her right side and put her in hospital. She then moved to a nursing home in Maidenhead where she spent the last few weeks of her life under palliative care. She remained in amazing spirits right up until when she celebrated her 80th birthday just a week before she passed away.

If anything the whole point of doing the book has been even more reinforced by losing Mum. Please support this fundraising book as every sale counts both in raising money and raising awareness about bowel cancer.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Billy Franks RIP

2016 has been a year when so many well know faces have been taken from us. For me it was particularly sad to learn of the passing of the wonderful Billy Franks a few months back. Billy was a lovely man, a hugely underestimated songwriter and musician. I saw Billy's band The Faith Brothers support The Alarm back in the 1980s and they were without doubt the best support band I ever saw. Much more than that they became one of my favourite bands and it was always a mystery how commercial chart success just eluded them. I was reacquainted with Billy's music through the joys of social media and the internet. It was over the last 15 years or so that I got to know him through his wonderful live gigs and solo albums. He always had time for his small, but loyal band of fans and would always have a hug for you and he knew everyone at his gigs by their first names. 

The news of Billy's passing came during the week thatwe had my Mum's funeral after she lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer, so hearing the news about Billy was another terrible blow. Billy had recently completed the Camino Frances 780km from France across the Pyrenees into Spain. When I donated to his crowdfunding appeal for the walk he returned my donation. Knowing at that time how poorly my Mum was he said that there were more important things in life. It was a measure of the man and something now that I will never forget. 

For some chapters in the Lives & Times bowel cancer fundraising book I was able to combine business (not that I considered the book as work) with pleasure. One such chapter was photographing Billy at The Union Chapel in London. He was a keen a supporter of my fundraising efforts and more than happy to meet up to be photographed for the book. The original idea we came up with for the book photo was to photograph Billy in Fulham, doing a now and then type idea with present day Billy versus Billy from the 1980s. However when the concert at The Union Chapel was announced it was too good an opportunity to miss. For the first time in his career Billy played an acoustic show back by a gospel choir. To see his songs performed in such a way was truly magical and The Gospel Touch Choir were magnificent. It made for a wonderful chapter in the book, and all proceeds I receive are donated to Beating Bowel Cancer.

Only a few months ago Billy released his latest offering, A Far Cry From Sunset, which is a wonderful collection of beautifully crafted songs. I can't believe that we have lost such a diamond.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Charity Vote

I have recently been in contact with Christine Foley on Twitter and I was wondering if anyone reading this would be kind enough to vote online to support their charitable work.

Ayllah-Beau is their 22 year old daughter. Sadly at the age of just 16 following a trip to India to help school children, she became unwell with intestinal failure. Her health has deteriorated since and as a result she is fed artificially. This is done wither directly via her blood stream or directly into her bowel. The result of that is high infection risks, and she has suffered five bouts of septicemia in the last two years, the last episode in April nearly too her life.

Two years ago her parents, Christine & Neil decided to dedicate their lives to fundraising for the specialist unit in London that have saved her life "St Marks Hospital Foundation"  reg charity number : 1140930. To date they have raised over £46,000!  This money is going directly to a tissue engineering project, using patients own stem cells to grow replacement tissue. We hope to help create a future free from the fear of bowel disease for everyone. They hope this will see a way forward for bowel cancer, crohns colitis and intestinal failure. They are second in a competition to win £10000! They are 2000 behind at the moment, so can you help them make it to number by the time the vote closes on Sept 25th.

Please vote in the Mountain Warehouse Charity Challenge. Free to vote doesn't cost a penny, just takes a moment of your time.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

An Idea For My Next Book

I have been thinking long and hard over recent months about whether or not to do a third fundraising book for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. I got so much pleasure out of doing Lives & Times I knew the chances are that I would want to do another book. Now that we have sadly lost Mum to this most awful disease I think that it is only fitting that I do a book dedicated to her memory and her long battle with bowel cancer.

But of course what to do? I think that the idea of meeting and photographing people is a winner and has great universal appeal. So my thinking is that I will once again do the same thing. However this time the book will have a theme running through each chapter. I am thinking possibly asking the people I meet to tell me about their first or favourite record they bought perhaps? Or their favourite book?

Now I fully appreciate that everyone who has bought Beating Bowel Cancer and Lives & Times might be thinking "not again already...". I understand this and I wouldn't want people to feel under any pressure to support me yet again anytime soon. So another book will take me a good 2-3 years giving everyone a rest! Hopefully by the time I come to publish everyone will once again be happy to support me. Of course the other thing is to get people on board a new book. To date I have tried sending out a some feelers to a few new celebrities and I have had no luck with positive replies yet! So that might scupper the idea too! So if anyone has ideas of who I might approach for the new book please let me know...

And remember if you want to buy any of my fundraising items, including the books and screen prints, head to

Monday, 12 September 2016

Seeing Mum in the Chapel of Rest

Today we got the opportunity to pay our respects to Mum at the Chapel of Rest. Most importantly, for me, it was the opportunity to take away a final image of her completely at peace. Watching Mum pass away was a very difficult thing to do, something I am glad I was able to do, but it left a pretty raw final image of her. To see Mum peacefully at rest today was quite beautiful and gave me that wonderful final image to take with me. She was simply fast asleep and no longer in pain. 

The last 2 weeks since Mum died have been full of differing emotions. I think my sister hit the nail on the head when she said she felt like she was kind of acting. It's very difficult to know what is right way to feel and behave. Ali my sister, Noel my brother and myself have very different ways of coping and getting through each day. I firmly believe that there is no right way or wrong way and we each must do what works for us. For myself I seem to have blocked out a lot of memories which I have put down to my body's way of self preservation and protection. What happened today was very emotional and it stirred up a lot of feelings inside of me. Over the last 2 weeks I have felt a sense of relief that Mum is now finally at peace, but today the complete sense of loss certainly came very much to the fore again. 

The funeral is the next big hurdle on September 21st. I believe we could be looking at a church packed out which would be a lovely way to say goodbye to Mum.

Mum's four and a half year battle with bowel cancer came to the end we never wanted to see. Bowel cancer is a horrible disease and takes away far too many people unnecessarily. I will continue to try and raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity and do whatever I can to help raise awareness about this awful illness. If you would like to support my fundraising please take a look at my fundraising website.