A night to be proud. . . and reflect

A night to be proud. . . and reflect

WARWICK mum and founder of charity Molly Olly’s Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw has spoken of her ‘night to remember’ following the 2019 Pride of Birmingham ceremony at which she received a Special Recognition Award.

Pride of Birmingham
Rachel Ollerenshaw is pictured with celebrities Michelle Heaton and Claudia Jessie who presented her with the Pride of Birmingham Award.

She said: “Well that certainly wasn’t our average Tuesday! The day started with a delivery from TSB of a box of chocolates and message of congratulations which was a lovely touch.

“At 5pm our car, organised by the Pride of Birmingham team, arrived and whisked us away to the event at The Great Hall at Birmingham University. As soon as we arrived all the team were so welcoming and put us at our ease. It all felt a bit surreal but was all a very special.

“It was so humbling to hear so many amazing stories and I felt extremely honoured to even be considered, let alone win an award. I loved having Tim, Ben and Maeve by my side. I wish the entire Molly Olly team could have been there too to be recognised for all their support.

“Thank you to everyone involved and to Claudia Jessie and Michelle Heaton who presented me with my award who were very kind. So many people have a story to tell, so many have faced adversity in different ways and it is good to share our stories. Definitely a night to remember and good to just take a breath for a moment, to reflect and remember Molly.” 

Rachel’s daughter Molly was just three when she was diagnosed with a tumour, and sadly died five years later.

Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

Rachel, 48 and husband Tim founded the charity Molly Olly’s Wishes in her daughter’s memory to give emotional support to children with a terminal or life-threatening illness, and their families. The charity, which grants wishes, has also donated £40,000 to furnish support centre Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Molly was treated.

But the star of the show is Olly The Brave, a cuddly lion who comes complete with a detachable mane and Hickman Line, just like the young cancer patients who adore him.

Speaking on stage to actress – and the awards host – Kym Marsh, Rachel said: “I was genuinely shocked and, to be honest, a bit embarrassed to receive this,” she admitted.

“This journey is about supporting other people and helping them through their toughest days. You don’t really think about getting awards along the way. But it’s very kind and massively important to me.”

“Molly was a old head on young shoulders,” she said. “A lot of kids can be like that when they have to face something so young.

“Molly very much liked to look after children and that’s why we’re here today. She guided us on this path and I know she would be really excited and proud of us.”

“I’m not a trained counsellor. I’m just another mum who has been through it.

“Even if you have great friends and a supportive family, being able to talk to someone who has been through it can really make a difference, and make you feel less isolated,” she said.

Presenting the Special Recognition Award were Line of Duty and Vanity fair star Claudia Jessie, and presenter and campaigner Michelle Heaton.

See the charity’s VT shown on the night here

To read more about the Ollerenshaw’s story and the awards click here

To see how you can support the charity while having fun in the Easter holidays, click here

Visit the charity’s website here

To donate visit here


Celebrating the Pride of Birmingham

Celebrating the Pride of Birmingham

THE mum behind a Warwick charity which has raised more than £2m for children with life-limiting and terminal illnesses, has been honoured with a Pride of Birmingham Special Recognition Award this week.

Molly Olly's Wishes
Rachel Ollerenshaw

Rachel Ollerenshaw, of Hatton Park, founded Molly Olly’s Wishes with husband Tim in 2011 a few months after their daughter Molly lost her battle with cancer, aged just eight.

And last night (Tuesday) she was among a line-up of unsung heroes from across the region who gathered for a star-studded ceremony, hosted by actress Kym Marsh, at Birmingham University’s Great Hall.

As well as being honoured with a Pride of Birmingham Award, all winners will go forward to the judging process for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges from a shortlist of nominations in several categories including Child or Teenager of Courage, Fundraiser of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Emergency Services and Outstanding Bravery Award.

Stuart Kettle, Pride of Birmingham
Stuart Kettle, from Warwick, preparing for his Bathtub Challenge last year.

Among those also being recognised was 52-year-old Warwick man Stuart Kettle who has raised more than £50,000 for Macmillan Cancer Care since 2006.

Nicknamed The Mad Fool, his crazy stunts for the charity include pushing a sprout up Mount Snowden with his nose, running seven marathons in seven days in a giant hamster wheel and, last year, cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats on a penny farthing.

Other recipients include a school boy who survived a Taliban attack on his school which killed his brother and 150 classmates, and a mum of four who, at the age of 70, continues to tackle criminals on the streets of Birmingham.

The Ollerenshaws first noticed signs of Molly’s illness while on a family day out just a few weeks off her fourth birthday.

A rare Wilms tumour was soon detected in her left kidney and she was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to begin a six-month course of chemotherapy before undergoing an operation to remove the kidney.

But, just 18 months later, the cancer had returned, this time on her bowel. More chemotherapy followed and the tumour was again removed.

Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

It was during this time that Molly joined the CLIC Sargent Youth Advisory Group to help improve the lives of children with cancer and, in 2010, narrated an Ardmann Studios short animated film designed as a guide for coping with radiotherapy. It is being widely used today in the UK and overseas to help improve the patient experience.

In May 2010 came the news the family had dreaded – the cancer had returned again to Molly’s liver. And, despite a further operation, a stem cell transplant and a further aggressive round of chemotherapy, another fourth tumour appeared in March 2011.

It was to be just two and a half precious months until Molly lost her brave battle and slipped away at the family home in Hatton Park on 15th June 2011, with mum and dad by her side.

Tim and Rachel had spent a large part of those five years in and out of hospital and soon realised that many of the patients they met did not benefit from the emotional or financial support that they had received for Molly and her siblings.

Driven by this – and a determination to keep Molly’s legacy alive -Molly Olly’s Wishes was officially born in September 2011.

And it has come a long way in those eight years. In January Rachel and Tim celebrated hitting the £2 million fundraising milestone.

Pride of Birmingham, Molly Olly's Wishes
Molly pictured on her fourth birthday.

But one of the charity’s proudest achievements came in April last year with the funding of the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

“It is really important to Tim and I that the charity has a heart at the very centre of it.”

Of the award, Rachel Ollerenshaw, 48, said: “People often say how brave we are, and how they couldn’t do that, but in truth, when you are in that situation you have no choice. We all have to deal with whatever hand we are dealt. What can make the difference is the support network that you have around you.

“We consider ourselves to be very fortunate as we have a family and friends who have been incredible. Having spent the best part of five years in and out of Birmingham Children’s Hospital we realise that many families did not always have this support. We knew first-hand what a difference a little help could make, the importance of talking to others in a similar situation and the benefit of talking to all our children through what was happening, hence doing what we do as a charity.

“Since the start we have had volunteers who have helped week in week out and given so much to the charity and it is with their talents and their help that the charity has been able to help so many and raise so much. Our trustees, who play an important role ensuring the charity is managed efficiently and appropriately, are Kevin Walsh, Jon Bew, Paulette Copps and Gurmukh Hayre. They are the team that I go to for advice, who are always there when I need help and who get very little recognition on a day to day basis. But over the years they have helped us through any challenges we face and have a wealth of expertise.

Pride of Birmingham Awards 2018, held at Birmingham University.
Kym Marsh.

“The day to day running of the charity is helped by Jackie Evans. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be by my side. The everyday work is supported by our volunteers, Lainey Pugh, Sue Herbert, Tracey Rigby, Karen Daw, Amanda Silcock, Bev Jordan and Lottie Jay, who do everything including helping organise fundraising events, sending out Olly The Brave packs, helping with accounts, contacting families to grant wishes, standing with collection buckets . . .the list of tasks is endless and varied.”

Rachel added: “In addition to the regular volunteers there are others such as Liz Brown who was a massive help at the start, Dean Pugh who organises our annual golf day, and Ana Ward. They are all so dedicated and committed, loyal, caring and hardworking.

“It is really important to Tim and I that the charity has a heart at the very centre of it, that we never forget why we are here and who we are helping. This is personal and very real. Everyone who is a part of the team understands this and it is so much more than volunteering.

“They all go above and beyond, and no words can ever express our gratitude. We are truly all a team and it gives us all a great deal of satisfaction being able to help people through those dark days. This award is for them all.

“There are so many worthy causes and whilst in our world we have had to deal with such deeply tragic loss, we know there are people who have faced far tougher challenges with less support and have gone on to do great things, so we feel very humbled at this recognition .

“Thank you to everyone who has taken time to listen and be a part of our journey, however big or small. We just want to keep on helping.”

Pride of Birmingham, Paul Cole
Birmingham Mail editor Paul Cole.

The distinguished nine-strong judging panel included Saturday Kitchen host and chef Glynn Purnell and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and was chaired by Birmingham Mail editor Paul Cole.

Paul said: “Rachel’s charity was one of those on the shortlist that found favour with everyone on the panel. We liked the fact that it works on different levels – helping fund Magnolia House, making wishes come true, and we all fell in love with Olly the Brave!

“It’s so important that children are made to feel at ease when in hospital, and we reckoned that Olly really helps with that.

“As Rachel says, the focus of the charity is to offer help to children and families through the most challenging times they might face.

“We think she’s the Pride of Birmingham, and we’re sure Molly would be proud.”


  • Having gained its charity status in 2012, Molly Olly’s Wishes has so far helped more than 8,000 children from newborn to age 18 with various forms of support, from granting wishes to distributing Olly The Brave packs which include a toy lion with his own Hickman line and a detachable mane that helps to explain and normalise the hair loss that comes with many types of chemotherapy. The packs have been handed out to 40 hospitals across the UK along with an Olly The Brave book.
  • There are now three books in the series, all written and illustrated by local author Diane Maybey.
  • Some 30 children a week in the UK are given a cancer diagnosis, and more are told that they have a life-threatening or terminal illness in one form or another. Many of these, especially those diagnosed with leukaemia, will be under five years old.
  • For further information about the charity and to donate, visit: www.mollyolly.co.uk or visit: https://www.justgiving.com/mollyollyswishes
Inspired by their thirst for success

Inspired by their thirst for success

THERE are few people we come across in our lives who genuinely inspire us.

Moores of Warwick
Martin and Lorraine Moore

I have been lucky enough to meet two this week by the names of Martin and Lorraine Moore, a married couple from Warwick who are celebrating the long-awaited launch of their new business.

And that in itself is reason enough to earn my respect. Building a business from scratch and making it a success are challenges enough for anyone. But when you are also staring down the barrel of a proverbial gun while you’re doing it – in the form of a cancer diagnosis – it takes entrepreneurial commitment and achievement to a whole new level.

Where I think it’s fair to say, most of us would mothball our business ambitions for the future to concentrate on our present health battles, Martin Moore took the opposite view. In fact, receiving the news that he had just months to live proved no barrier to his ambitions!

Trial immunotherapy treatment has stunted the growth of his tumour such that he’s been spurred on to follow his dream – and this month marked a magical moment for the husband and wife team as they celebrated the doors opening on Moores of Warwick Gin Distillery and Gin School.

Martin Moore

In 2011, after spotting a mole on his back, Martin, 59, was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma.

Despite six months of surgery, four years later the couple received the news they had dreaded – the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

Unable to treat the condition with chemotherapy, Martin was signed up for an immunotherapy drugs trial.

But the diagnosis marked a significant turning point for the couple who decided to take the leap – together.

Believed to be Warwick’s first gin distillery, Moores of Warwick makes small-batch hand-crafted gin using a selection of 12 botanicals, including honeysuckle, the flower emblem of Warwickshire and known as Shakespeare’s Woodbine.

It was around 12 years ago when Lorraine was first introduced to the drink by Weightwatchers as a lower-calorie alternative to wine. She soon converted Martin and the couple’s love affair with gin began.

But passion soon turned to ambition and today they operate out of a unit at Hatton Shopping Village where their gin school is also already proving popular.

Groups are invited to hear a short presentation on the history of gin before concocting their own unique recipe using the mini stills, then bottle it and add a personalised label, all while enjoying some G and Ts. Records of each unique blend are also kept so re-orders can be made.

What a wonderful idea – and one I know will be well received around here!

You don’t necessarily have to be an ardent gin drinker to appreciate their efforts. Lorraine told me she finds nothing more rewarding than passing on her passion – and knowledge – of the brand to customers who love concocting their own recipes and taking them away at the end. What’s not to love?!

Far from slowing down, Martin already has his sights firmly set on growing the business and there are – rather exciting – plans afoot for a Moores Vodka and a Moores Rum as well. Watch this space for more on that!

Moores of Warwick Gin Distillery
Martin and Lorraine Moore next to their main 100-litre still, Nellie – named after the elephant in the room (Martin’s cancer.)

Meeting the couple – and hearing all about their story – it’s easy to see where their motivation lies. And their infectious enthusiasm for their product will, I have no doubt, inspire theirs – and others’ – success.

To book a place on the Moores Gin School visit: https://mooresofwarwick.com/bookavisit-2/

 Photos by www.davidfawbertphotography.co.uk




Marilyn’s story – by Marilyn

Marilyn’s story – by Marilyn

FOLLOWING a successful West End run, a hit one-woman show about movie icon Marilyn Monroe is heading to Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend.

Marilyn Monroe

Presented by Breakthrough Theatre, this show gives audiences a rare glimpse into Marilyn’s troubled – and not-so-private – life.

It stops off at The Attic Theatre, in Bridgefoot, as part of a nationwide tour across 11 venues, on Friday and Saturday (March 15th and 16th)!

Marilyn’s image and persona is famous worldwide but why was she so iconic? Did people ever really know the real girl behind the mask? Or is that the reason for the ongoing fascination? This playful and poignant play is Marilyn’s story, told by her – alone in her dressing room.

Marilyn, which premiered at the Blue Orange Theatre in July 2017, made its West End transfer to Leicester Square Theatre at the beginning of this year, where it was met with rave reviews.

Founder of Breakthrough Theatre and star of the show, actress Danielle J Gearing said: “We are very proud of what a success this show has become and I am loving getting to put that Blonde wig on and share this fascinating women’s story with audiences around the country! We’ve had such an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences so far and cannot wait to bring it to the beautiful town of Stratford upon Avon!”

Tickets are still tickets available at: www.theattictheatre.co.uk and for information about other venues and tour dates visit: www.breakthroughtheate.org/marilyn-tour-2019