Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Bowel Cancer Screening Lottery - Make The Age 50 Across the UK

Today Beating Bowel Cancer held a reception at the Houses of Parliament to call on MPs to back reducing the screening age from 60 to 50 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland is the only part of the United Kingdom where the age for screening is 50. It is estimated that if the screening age was 50 across the whole of the UK, then 4,000 patients a year might benefit from early detection and have a much better chance of beating this awful illness.

The charity have put up a link for anyone to write to their local MP to ask them to back the age reduction. It's really easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes to complete. Please do this as every letter in support helps. To go to the page click here.

Well done to the charity and everyone involved today in putting on the reception and getting the great coverage in the media. Myself and those people who have lost someone to bowel cancer appreciate your efforts. It could be argued that the screening age should be a lot lower. More and more younger people are being diagnosed with bowel cancer. Raising awareness is also a key factor, and that's something I shall continue to try and do...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Author Freya North Part of The Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book

Freya North with the Beating Bowel Cancer tie

On an a chilly spring evening in 2015 I met up with the author, Freya North, in North London and photographed her for the book. This was a fascinating chapter to write up for a couple of reasons. Freya is an Ambassador for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity having lost a close friend, Hannah Berry, to this awful illness. Also while we were making arrangements to meet up we discovered a shared love of The Charlatans, so we decided to do the photo before their gig at The Roundhouse. In the above photo she posed with the Beating Bowel Cancer tie which is helping to raise awareness through a group on Facebook.

Freya with her copy of Lives & Times

I sent Freya an advanced copy of Lives & Times, and I was very pleased, not to mention a little relieved, when she gave it the thumbs up. She also very kindly ordered some more copies of the book when it was published. In 2015 Freya published her 14th novel The Turning Point which became another bestseller for her. It is brilliant, and one I would highly recommend. Here was I taking 18 months to produce my 2nd book, so I have some way to catch up on so many levels! But the good news is I now am in the early stages of book 3, which I am very pleased will once again feature Freya.

Freya was absolutely lovely and it was great to finally meet up with her. It was in fact the perfect evening. Having met Freya I then went to Belgo in Camden for a meal, which is one of my favourite restaurant chains, and then The Charlatans were simply stunning.

My mother fought a long and courageous battle with bowel cancer over four and a half years. She never complained and was always prepared to endure any treatment or procedure it would take to beat the cancer. However the cancer spread to her brain and she sadly lost her battle with bowel cancer passing away peacefully on August 29th, 2016. Naturally the whole point of my fundraising and raising awareness about bowel cancer has been even more reinforced having lost Mum.

All support for the book is greatly appreciated, and the proceeds raised from sales of the Lives & Times fundraising book are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The book has raised over £3250 so far.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Bowel Cancer Metastasis

This lovely photo was taken back in September 2013 celebrating my niece Anna's 7th birthday. I love looking at these photos and seeing the lovely relationship Mum had with Anna. During this period it was at a time when Mum was 18 months in remission and all was going so well. It was a couple of months later when the cancer returned. 

Mum suffered from secondary cancer, otherwise known as cancer metastasis. This is where the cancer spreads to other parts of the body from the primary site. In Mum's case the cancer spread from the bowel to her lungs, and then finally to her brain. Sadly, the cancer on the brain was a battle she couldn't win and she peacefully passed away on August 29th. Her positive approach and determination throughout to beat the cancer was amazing, and she will always be regarded in my eyes as a true inspiration...

I spent 18 months putting the Lives & Times book together. Aside from the fundraising, if the book can help raise awareness and help prevent just one person from going through what Mum and too many others like her have had to go through, then it will have more than done its job. The total amount raised so far stands at  a little over £3100. This total includes sales of the wonderful Lives & Times Screen Print created by Reigate artist Adam Green. I am truly thankful to everyone who has bought either the book or screen print so far, and both are available to buy from my website.

I am now in the very early stages of putting together a new fundraising book in memory of Mum.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Book Reviews

The role that reviews play in getting the book out to a wider audience is an important part of taking the book forward. In basic terms when people see an item on Amazon has a high number of good reviews they are more likely to buy it. This is both irrational but predictable behaviour...

At the moment less than a quarter of the sales have been on Amazon with the vast majority being sold on my own website This is good for the fundraising as more money goes to the charity from purchases made on my website.

However it does not matter where you have bought the book as you can still post a review on Amazon.

The reviews so far have been great with some maximum five start reviews. If I know someone has bought the the book I always ask them if they would be kind enough to post a review. However it is more important to get a  high quantity of reviews, as a book with 500 four-star reviews will sell more copies than a book with 15 five-star reviews.

So for anyone who has kindly bought the Lives & Times fundraising book and not managed to do a review yet, please could you post one on Amazon as every review really does help. Please take a look at the reviews posted so far by clicking here.

To see how you can purchase the Lives & Times book click here. All proceeds I receive are being donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity with over £3250 raised so far. My mother died in August 2016 after the bowel cancer spread to her brain by way of her left lung.

I am also very keen to get the book reviewed by the media and book reviewers. This has so far proved to be very challenging. If anyone reading this has any ideas to help I would be very grateful.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The Original Members of The Alarm Supporting The Bowel Cancer CharityBook

One of my ambitions when I started doing the book was to try and photograph the four members in the original line-up of The Alarm, Mike Peters, Eddie MacDonald, Nigel Twist and Dave Sharp. This was never going to be an easy challenge especially with Twist living in the United States. I knew it would be virtually impossible to get the band back together in the same room, as they hadn't appeared together on stage since the Bands Reunited concert back in 2003. I set about contacting them and seeing if I could meet and photograph them. Over the course of 12 months I completed this task, and it is one of my proudest achievements in the book. I will explain why these meetings account for three chapters and not four.

The first member I approached was Eddie, and I was delighted when he immediately came back with a yes. It took some time for us to arrange a meeting, but fate was on my side as he was seeing Twist in London while Twist was over for a rare visit from the States. I met them close to Oxford Street and it was a fascinating experience. It was also the 11th anniversary of the Bands Reunited performance at The Scala. Eddie has been a terrific supporter of the project and last year he sent me a photo of himself with his copy of the book.

Going to watch Mike in concert each January at The Gathering and on his UK tours gave me me the potential for photographing him. His wife Jules said it would be no problem doing a photograph with him, so it was a case of trying to sort out where and when. I ended up doing the photo at Abbey Road, where I took part in The Scriptures recording sessions. It was an amazing day and I got some brilliant photos. I managed to photograph Mike with his copy of the book when The Alarm supported The Stranglers in Reading last year.

As I neared completing the book I still hadn't managed to make contact with Dave. I was going to see him play at Winchester, so I made one final attempt to contact him the week before the gig, and fortune was smiling on me as Dave messaged me saying he would be happy to meet me. This was another great experience as I got to see the sound-check before meeting and photographing him.

Like many fans of The Alarm I have followed the band for over 30 years, and I have some wonderful memories. This experience probably tops the lot, well maybe except for the very first time I saw the band at The Marquee in 1983.

On August 29th, 2016 my Mum lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer. She fought this awful illness with great courage and dignity throughout. She never complained and bounced back from each operation and round of treatment she had. Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK, but can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases if diagnosed early. Not only is the book raising funds for Beating Bowel Cancer, but it is also helping to raise awareness. Please support me in this fundraising venture. To see how you can order the Lives & Times fundraising book for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity click here. Over £3250 raised so far, with particularly amazing support from fans of The Alarm.