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.