Glitz and glamour, smiles and tears, must be #PrideofBritain

Wow! Last night I watched the Pride of Britain awards. It was a festival of smiles & tears from the red carpet through to the end credits. A mixture of celebrities and heroes graced the stage and the programme, as usual, didn’t disappoint.

All of the award winners had stories of outstanding courage, bravery or dedication. Often they are people you’ve never heard of and the winners are not seeking recognition. But without the #PrideofBritain awards we would never hear these amazing stories, from the emergency services to the ordinary person who could be your neighbour.

There were a couple of North West people that stood out for me.

First was little George Mathias who’s been fundraising for Alder Hey. Alder Hey is a children’s hospital close to our heart, in fact I’ve even been in there myself.

George wanted to do something to thank the hospital for saving the life of his baby brother after he slipped into a coma at only a few days old.

With his sponsored running this young man has raised over £35.000 for Alder Hey and already purchased four specially heated cots for the special baby care unit. George shows no sign of giving up yet, every mile is more money for the hospital and that’s what drives him.

Pride of Britain judges said:

George is an incredible young man, motivated by love for his brother. He had a brilliant idea, and the     determination to make it happen. What’s wonderful is that the money he raised is already helping to save the lives of other babies.

Another inspirational story was that of Katie Walker. Katie suffered an horrific beating by her then boyfriend who broke every bone in her face. Katie had 3 months of surgery to rebuild her face and although the boyfriend went to jail Katie also suffered mental scars, and suffering from depression shut her self off from the world.

Katie Walker #PrideofBritain

With counselling and help from the Prince’s Trust she rebuilt her life and now runs her own beauty salon in Liverpool. But what is different about Katie’s salon is she offers support to victims of violence.

Every year on the anniversary of the attack Katie re-posts the picture of her beaten face on social media, showing women there is a way out and a future and encouraging women to speak up about violence or controlling behaviour.

Pride of Britain judges said:

Katie is just so inspirational. What she suffered is absolutely horrifying, but she refused to let it grind her down, and uses her experiences to help and empower other women.

A lot of the stories were emotional, but my absolute favourite is the winner of the TSB Community Partner Award for #TSBlocalpride This is a heartwarming award and also my favourite as it highlights people who go out of their way to improve life of others in their local community. Being involved in my local community and WI I am inspired by the good ideas some people have.

Fraser Johnston cycling without age #PrideofBritain

Fraser Johnston and Cycling without Age:  20 year old Fraser spends his spare time in Falkirk taking care home residents out for a ride on his Trishaw bike which has a seat for two attached to the front. More than half a million older people only go outside once a week or less, something 20-year-old Fraser is determined to change. Funded by Crowdfunding he helped set up the Cycling Without Age scheme in March 2016, and now Fraser and a team of 30 volunteers have taken out over 150 care home residents, all aged over 85, many of whom are not mobile. Not only are they all out and about in the fresh air and enjoying the scenery, it also looks great fun.

This really interested me as The WI are currently taking on a challenge to tackle loneliness in local communities and I wish we could do something like this. People helping people is a good thing for all of us. It looks fun for everyone and well done to such a young man for thinking of it.

I have to say I needed a cuppa by the time the Pride of Britain Awards were over. I had smiled, laughed and cried through the whole thing, and absolutely loved it.

Roll on 2018

 

Pride in your community, #PrideofBritain

Working in the community and being part of The WI means I often meet or hear of different groups and people in my local community who are making a difference where we live.

From groups to individuals who go out of their way to support others, like the ladies who set up The Lunch Bunch. A social group for carers of dementia sufferers where they can go with their loved ones and socialise together providing support and respite for each other in an understanding environment. Set up from nothing with no funding just an idea and dedication yet transforming the lives of others.

There are people who go beyond the call of duty everyday and if you’ve ever wanted to highlight them and their efforts then this is the time to do it!

summer of pride mini's for pride of britain

I saw the #PrideofBritain Summer of Pride Tour Mini’s in Liverpool

From 27th June to 12th July the  Summer of Pride Tour with the colourful Pride of Britain mini’s are whizzing around the country stopping at TSB branches and calling on the public to nominate the people they believe should be up for a Pride of Britain award. Especially the TSB Community Partner Award recognising and celebrating all those local unsung heroes we know of who make amazing contributions to their local community.

I’ve nominated a community group in Runcorn Old Town Bloomers who have transformed this:

A scrap of land between the High Street and the Canal and turned it into a community garden and outdoor library.

 

Set up by Hazlehurst Artists who walk past this scrap of land everyday to their studio they have used their creativity to enhance the local environment for all. Recycling old everyday items into garden planters and sculptures.

The Old Town Bloomers invite and encourage people to meet up weekly and join in tending to the garden, helping create new features whilst socialising with each other over a cup of tea. People of all ages are welcome and it has become a talking point in the town.

Providing a place to sit quietly or fun with the children, young an old meeting and working together. This sums it up….

 

Fun for children too..

     

     

Their motto: Using art, gardening and creativity to make a difference

 

…..and they certainly are!

If you’d like to make a nomination about someone making a difference in you community your can do it here at #PrideOfBritain

Good luck to all entrants, you’re all fabulous.

 

A mile in her shoes

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Are you a runner?

I have never seen as many running groups as I do now, with the local park run and community organised running events everyone seems to be enjoying the sport and keeping fit.

Runners are many and varied, from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes and all levels of fitness, all aiming for different goals by doing something that is free and good for your health.

Research has shown that exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, boosting your self-esteem, helping you concentrate and look and feel better which can vastly improve the quality of your emotional and mental life, and the extra benefit of running is it’s free!

A mile in her shoes encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

Various social factors put women at greater risk of poor mental health, but their readiness to talk about their feelings and their strong social networks can help protect their mental health.

amilein1

By creating running groups for women the charity is working to create, lead and support running fitness groups through a volunteer-led programme. Sessions are provided by trained and insured female volunteers who are qualified to lead mixed ability groups.

By providing all of the appropriate clothing and working to identify and remove any barriers to running, they enable participants to access the same mental, physical, health and social benefits from running as any other woman.

amilein2

The charity is run entirely by volunteers, money is raised by fundraising and most of the kit is donated second-hand by other runners. If you have any kit you don’t wear anymore and it’s in excellent condition, think about donating it.

To donate to A Mile in Her Shoes – each group costs around £5 per week to deliver – you can do so here or create a  fundraising page on the charity’s giving page.

#BloggingToJogging

This September ‘Bag it Beat it’ for the British Heart Foundation

british heart foundation bags

Have you ever had to wear a heart monitor? It’s not the best fashion accessory, and after three days of being restricted to one quick shower it can be a necessary nuisance.

Severe palpitations had led to tests to check my Rheumatoid Arthritis wasn’t affecting my major organs. An ECG, 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, a  scan and then the monitor to wear, resulting in a consultation to review readings.

Luckily I was fine, but I was amazed at the tests available as the first line in detecting any defect or abnormality in the heart.

All of these tests are available on the NHS through a GP, and they are all done quickly, detecting heart problems early can save lives.

The British Heart Foundation  is the nations  largest independent funder of cardiovascular research, and because of this most babies born today with heart defects survive. And as I watch my young cousin excitedly go off to University 18 years after having heart surgery when born I am thankful for this research, but there’s a lot more to be done:

Coronary heart disease is still the UK’s single biggest killer, surgery techniques can still be improved, and there are exciting developments in genetics and stem cell technology yet to be found and YOU CAN HELP.

heart foundation bag it beat it logo

This September take part in Bag it.Beat it.  the nationwide bag donation challenge to collect stock for British Heart Foundation shops. So whether you’re a wardrobe stuffer, a CD collector or a shoe hoarder, you can help fund vital research.

Simply donate your stuff, or organise a Bag it Beat it bag drive.
and challenge your friends, family and colleagues to clear the clutter by filling bags with good quality unwanted clothes, shoes, books, handbags, DVDs, CDs, bric-a-brac and children’s toys. They’ll even come and collect your donations for free.

Why don’t you join in, what better reason could there be to have a clear out in time for Christmas.

 

 

 

Volunteer, it’s good for you – Cancer support

cancer support logo

When I go out on a Tuesday afternoon I go to spend time with some lovely people and have a chat, cup of tea and quite often we have CAKE.  How nice is that?

The unusual bit about my social afternoon is the reason I am there, I am a volunteer and this group is run by a Cancer  Support Centre.

Centres of this type are often set up by an individual who has suffered in some way relating to cancer and usually because there is not enough support outside the clinical environment.

Typically a centre provides a community based welcoming environment where emotional and psychological support is available for people who have been touched by cancer. They offer counselling, advice and information, and complementary therapies  as well as workshops and exercise classes.

Anyone who has been affected by cancer or by the suffering of a friend or relative is welcome at our local Centre.  Friendly staff and volunteers are available to listen with a cuppa and a smile. You can choose to get involved, or just drop in when you feel like a friendly chat and most of the services are completely free of charge.

They have lots of volunteers, most people who visit the centre for support often return to offer their help in some way. Many support centres are self funded and rely on fundraising and grant applications, we also have some support from the local council too.

It’s a very positive environment and I think people return to show their support and thanks for ‘being there’ at a time when everything looked bleak.

There are lots of causes waiting for willing volunteers, you can find somewhere to use the skills you have or you can learn something new.

Have a look for your local volunteer agency or approach an organisation that is close to your heart, and of course it’s a great way to gain confidence  if you’re looking for paid employment.

 

Diary of an imperfect mum