Mums keep the candle burning for Halloween fundraising

Mums keep the candle burning for Halloween fundraising

A Warwick community renowned for its flamboyant annual Halloween celebrations is keeping the tradition alive despite the pandemic.

Innovative parents Charlotte Fawbert and Lucy Field were determined to salvage the spooky fun which draws hundreds of children on Hatton Park – by this year turning it into a COVID-safe pumpkin trail.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Hatton Park, Halloween
Evie Field, Charlie and Rosie Fawbert with Olly The Brave. Photo by Dave Fawbert Photography.

Children are being encouraged to download a trail sheet and, between Thursday and Sunday, hunt for 12 Halloween-themed pictures displayed in windows throughout the estate.

Local families are then being invited to donate money they would have otherwise spent on sweets for trick and treaters, to Hatton Park-based charity Molly Olly’s Wishes.

Molly Olly’s was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer, and works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families.

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Hatton Park, Halloween, Molly Olly's Wishes
Lucy Field, Charlotte Fawbert and their children Evie, Rosie and Charlie. Photo by Dave Fawbert Photography.

Mum of two, Charlotte said: “Hatton Park has a reputation for creating a fantastic atmosphere at Halloween and I didn’t want the children on the estate to miss out due to COVID restrictions, so Lucy and I came up with some safe and fun ideas that we could still do.

“And when another mum, Emily Burgess suggested we do it in aid of Molly Olly’s Wishes, we thought was a great idea. Our hope is that many people will support this amazing charity while the children are still able to enjoy themselves this Halloween.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Halloween on Hatton Park has always been a family time, my children always loved it and often their friends wanted to come to here for Halloween as the residents always seem to do it so well. The fun of dressing up, silly games and trick or treating.

“We have lots of happy family memories. Halloween fell not long after Molly, aged four, had her first major operation to remove her kidney. She had a big scar the width of her stomach, her hair was falling out from the chemotherapy, and despite not feeling great, she wanted to join in and would joke with us about trick or treat, her trick being that she would scare you with her scar!

She added: “So many residents of Hatton Park have been a great support to the charity. It is a shame that it can’t quite be the same for the children this year but the ideas that some of the parents have come up with will mean it is still lots of fun. Olly The Brave will be joining in too so the children will have to see if they can spot him on their trail.”

Trail sheets can be obtained from the Hatton Park Locals Facebook forum or by emailing Lucy Field at:

Donations, in lieu of sweets, can be made to Molly Olly’s Wishes at:

Unique COVID-inspired artwork under the hammer for charity

Unique COVID-inspired artwork under the hammer for charity

A Hampshire animal portrait artist whose anticipated London exhibition was closed down by COVID-19, is pledging to raise money for charity with the auction of one of her unique pieces.

Georgea Blakey’s pandemic-inspired Political Animal uses a deer skull sourced from a junk shop as the basis for the artwork adorned with newspaper headlines and Corona bottle labels displayed in a curiosity cabinet.

Political Animal by Georgea Blakey Art

It is among several of the artist’s animal pieces which were commissioned for a show called Empties Into Art at Soho Sanctum in May, sponsored by Bombay Sapphire.

But she’s now hoping it will raise money for Flora & Fauna  International, the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organisation and biodiversity champions.

She said: “As a reaction to feeling boxed in and caged up like animals I produced my very own ‘memento mori’ -a traditional style of artwork designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the shortness and fragility of human life.

“Having felt bombarded by news and salacious headlines I felt it was important to produce a piece of art that reflected my reaction but also comical take on the pandemic. I took the concept of the pun Political Animal and turned it into a physical piece of art to commemorate the turbulent times in which we live but with my usual humorous twist.

“I tore up pieces of paper with some of the most alarming headlines and buzz words of our time, mixed in with some Corona labels, using a papier maché technique and then sealed the whole thing in resin and mounted the finished sculpture in a Perspex box. I like the synergy between us being penned in with the animal trapped in a cage by politics.”

Georgea, 49, added: “I’d been working for a year on all the collages and then lockdown hit and that was it. We can’t reschedule the exhibition because no one can predict what’s going to happen, so I’ve got these pieces here stuck at home. It was a huge anti-climax after a whole year of work.”

Georgea, who was made a Senior Art Scholar at St Pauls Girls School and studied at Chelsea College of Art, has staged celebrated exhibitions across the country and boasts a Who’s Who of clients from the worlds of British aristocracy, showbusiness and sport.

But she admits, had it not been for a serious accident resulting in half her left wrist being removed when she was younger, her future career would have panned out very differently.

She explained: “I worked as a groom on a polo ranch in Argentina when I was 20 because I got a bit side-tracked by ponies for six months.

“While I was out there I did have quite a serious injury. I got hit in the wrist with a polo mallet so couldn’t work there anymore, and that’s when I started drawing pictures of the polo ponies instead and selling them. Instead of singing for my supper I was painting for it, if you like!

“I underwent several operations over several years and eventually decided to come back to England to study at Chelsea College of Art – while wearing a sling. I couldn’t make up my own canvasses so the teacher had to stretch them for me. I still can’t stretch them to this day.

“I knew then that I was never going to be able to play guitar anymore. Without the injury I wouldn’t be painting now, I’d be in a rock group in Los Angeles or acting or doing something ridiculous!”

She added: “Ever since I was little I have always exchanged pictures for accommodation or payment, like Van Gogh used to do when he handed over one of his paintings in restaurants to cover his bar bill.”

Georgea Blakey Art, Political Animal, portrait artist

But Georgea’s come a long way since selling her first work to a school friend for just 10p nearly 40 years ago.

Her latest art style is as a result of lockdown – when she became inspired by everyday objects around her including discarded alcohol labels. Many of her pieces are now also available in a range of décor and gifts.

“At the point of lockdown I had to kind of start again. That’s when I started doing these collages using drinks labels. I don’t like to think of myself as just a pet portrait artist. I want to elevate the animal and make it so incredibly beautiful, using unusual materials to bring out its character. And sometimes alcohol labels are really striking,” said Georgea.

“The collages were like a release for me by adding a bit of wit and humour to bring them together.”

In fact wit plays a huge role in inspiring Georgea’s art, but never more so than through her alter-ego, stand-up comedienne Chenille Steele.

Chenille’s musical and Victoria Wood-inspired one-woman shows will be familiar to the London comedy circuit.

She said: “I was always going to be either an actress or an artist and I actually got into the Old Vic musical theatre course but I couldn’t do it because of my wrist. Even though I had to choose art because of my injury, I never lost that yearning deep down to perform.

“My whimsy comes out in these collages. It’s such a wonderful release.”

Art and humour – have proved huge sources of comfort for Georgea in a life’s journey that’s thrown up a series of huge health challenges, including breaking her back in a horse riding accident, a broken shoulder in a skiing accident and surgery to remove her coccyx.

Georgea Blakey Art, Political Animal, portrait artist
Georgea and daughter Romilly

But it was whilst living in America that Georgea and husband Jamie faced their darkest time when two-year-old daughter Romilly was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, eventually leading them to resettle in Britain to be nearer family.

She recalls: “Every time we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge it wasn’t exciting like it is for most people, it was a time of anxiety because we knew we were on our way to hospital. The bridge actually became like the gates of hell for us daily,” said Georgea.

“Our time in America, which should have been this incredible new life for us, wasn’t, and after everything we’d been through, we decided to go back to England because we had a better support network there.”

Romilly is now seven years cancer-free and her mum is determined to focus on a brighter future beyond the pandemic.

Georgea, who cites 19th-century animal artist Edwin Landseer as a source of inspiration, said: “My ambition is to see one of my paintings hang in The National Gallery and have my own TV show where I paint portraits of people’s animals. There’s so many cookery and DIY shows and I’d love to do Animal Artist of the Year or something like that.

“In the meantime I wanted to do create something to mark these historic times we’re living through as well as offer practical support. The donation is my way of helping a charity that stops waste and promotes recycling and protecting animals. It is about creativity beyond consumption and is fitting because I use people’s rubbish to help portray animals. Flora and Fauna is all about the environment saving those very same animals I am recycling and upcycling.”

Bids for Political Animal, which has a reserve price of £2,000, can be made to: by December 31st 2020.

Her website can be found at: and her Etsy shop can be found at:

Final books in Olly The Brave series released

Final books in Olly The Brave series released

WARWICK-BASED charity Molly Olly’s Wishes has released the final three chapters in its series of therapeutic books for children battling terminal and life-limiting illnesses.

The books follow the final stages of the charity’s mascot lion Olly The Brave in his journey with illness and palliative care as well as exploring emotions around bereavement.

They form part of the Olly the Brave packs, which also contain a toy lion with its own Hickman line and detachable mane and are distributed to hospitals and health professionals across the UK.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Olly The Brave, new books
Rachel Ollerenshaw with the Olly The Brave series of books. Photo by Karen Massey Photography.

The charity was founded by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw following the death of their daughter Molly in 2011. Molly was diagnosed with a rare kind of kidney cancer five years earlier at the age of just three, after becoming ill during a family holiday.

Despite undergoing several operations and extensive treatment, throughout her battle with the illness, Molly got involved with work to help improve the lives of other children with cancer, including narrating an Ardmann Studios short animated film designed as a guide for coping with radiotherapy.

Having gained charity status in 2012, Molly Olly’s has so far helped more than 1,500 children from newborn age to 18 by granting individual wishes.

All the books have been written and illustrated by artist and author Diane Maybey from Warwick, the first three even earning a Highly Commended accolade by the British Medical Association Patient Information Awards.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Olly The Brave, Diane Maybey
The books’ author and illustrator Diane Maybey

Diane trained as a primary school teacher, specialising in children’s literature and the creative arts and worked therapeutically with children for a learning disability charity, as a foster carer and in various teaching and therapeutic roles.

Rachel said: “The books are a fantastic way of opening up lines of communication when you find yourself in this unimaginable world where your child has been diagnosed with a serious illness. They help answer those difficult questions the children may ask and help them to talk about things they don’t know how to vocalise.”

Book 4, Ben’s Big Stuff, is created with brothers and sisters in mind, helping them to talk through their different emotions.

Rachel said: “Siblings can really struggle sometimes when mum or dad can’t give them the same level attention. The child who is ill may be getting lots of gifts and are the main focus. Life for siblings changes too and takes some adjustment and feelings can be supressed and cause anxiety. This book helps explore those feelings and supports emotional well-being.”

Book 5, Nights of Cuddles, tackles the difficult subject of preparing for the death of a child and the help and conversations which are needed.

While the final book in the series, Finding Life After Olly, focuses on coping with the emotions and thought processes around bereavement and seeking the support to find new beginnings.

Olly The Brave, Molly Olly's Wishes, new books, charity

Rachel said: “These books offer emotional support to children and their families. They look and feel like any children’s story book and explain Olly’s journey very sensitively but openly. The feedback from families and health professionals is incredibly positive and they are very grateful to have them as a resource”

The Charity hope Olly’s journey will soon also be appearing in a new app geared at older children who need similar support.

“The books are geared towards younger aged children but we are looking at doing an Olly The Brave App as the questions that arise in the books apply at any age, they just require a different format for older children and young people,” explained Rachel.

Plans for the app, which have been put on hold due to the pandemic, are now back on track with high hopes of a 2021 launch.

To find out more information about the charity or how to help or donate or apply for a copy of the book, visit:

Bringing the best tastes of autumn to our plates

Bringing the best tastes of autumn to our plates

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, autumn menu

AUTUMN is my favourite time of the year.

It’s also Harvest Festival time – which brings a bounty of flavour and fresh ingredients to our dinner plates.

And the chefs at The Rose and Crown in Warwick are heralding the season in style with their new menu of comforting and satisfying seasonal fare. From new deli plates and mains to puddings and cheese, hunkering down for those winter months in a year quite like no other, is somehow less daunting.

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, autumn menu

A Warwick resident for more than 20 years, The Rose and Crown is not an unfamiliar haunt and I was delighted to be invited back to be among the first to sample the new menu, which again, did not disappoint.

From a choice of eight starters, (ranging in price between £6 and £9.50), I opted for the Baked Somerset Camembert, Truffle Honey, Walnut Crust & Toasted Sourdough (£8) – a tasty opener to proceedings.

The Rose and Crown is not afraid to be bold in its flavour and texture combinations but, while I still devoured it, on this particular occasion, I wasn’t as convinced by the addition of the walnuts to this dish if I’m honest.

My husband had no such qualms with his selection from the Specials Menu however and offered high praise for the Moules Mariniere, Aoli and Sourdough Baguette (£7.50).

He stayed with the specials Menu for his main course and what was a new culinary first for him, Whole Roast Partridge, Bacon, Bread Sauce, Red Cabbage, Game Chips and Juniper Jus (£18). His verdict? Delicious and something he’d definitely return to again.

For someone who appreciates a fine cut of meat, my 8oz Rump Cap Steak (£19.75). sourced from local butchers Aubrey Allen, was mouthwatering and lived up to expectations. A 10oz Rib Eye cut (£27.50) and Steak Diane Fillet Steak Medallions, with Creamy Mushroom and Shallot Sauce, is also available for £25.

The tempting line up of main courses has satisfying British cuisine at its heart, but with some international notes, including Sri Lankan Spinach, Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry, Cashews, Coconut Sambal, Basmati Rice & Chapati (£14.75); Honey-glazed Merryfield Duck Breast, Savoy Cabbage, Smoked Bacon, Puried Celeriac, Green Peppercorn Jus (£22.50) and 14-Hour Braised Beef & Ale Pie, Buttered Mash, Greens and Gravy. (£15)

Or, interesting new options from the specials include Whole Roast Grouse and Roast Trout.

Do pay close attention to the description of the dishes though as you may wish to order a side of vegetables to accompany some of them. Options include Braised Red Cabbage, Seasonal Green Vegetables and a variety of chips and potato dishes.

For those who want a lighter snack, the deli plates offer a great alternative. Choices include olives, devilled whitebate, hummus and flatbread and beetroot falafel.

The colder weather also gives us a great excuse to indulge in some of our favourite puddings – well, it would be rude not to!

For those still able to make room, highlights include Banoffee Cheesecake, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Bananas & Pecans (£7.50); Lemon and Pistachio Polenta Cake with Black Cherries (£6.75) and Warm Chocolate Fondant and Honeycomb Ice Cream (£8).

There’s also the option of a Mini Pud and Tea or Coffee (£5.95) or a very good cheese board selection to finish in style. (1-5 cheeses from £3.75-£12)

But it was a return to the Specials Menu for me with an irresistible Brioche French Toast, Caramelised Apples and Rum and Raisin Ice Cream (£6.50) that did not disappoint.

Meanwhile hubby’s Crème Brulee and Shortbread (£6) was tasty and plentiful – and a great way to round off this delightful Rose and Crown autumn experience.

For those of us who still want to enjoy the fruits and flavours of autumn, check out The Rose and Crown’s new Dinner and Sunday menus.

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, autumn menu

It’s easy to see why this restaurant, part of the Peach Pubs franchise, is a favourite with the locals. It has a cosy, comfortable and friendly vibe and boasts a clutch of awards to its name. It also feels safe in the current environment without being intrusive on your visit. The art of hospitality and conviviality has certainly not been lost against the backdrop of this horrific virus.

It truly is a jewel in the crown of a town blessed with a not insignificant number of fine eateries – and one we must continue to do our best to support.

Visit it and pre-book at:

Last chance for Barford residents to stop quarry threat

Last chance for Barford residents to stop quarry threat

FOR the last five years Barford Residents have been campaigning hard against the Warwick County Council Mineral Plan to open a large sand and gravel quarry on the edge of the village.

If the quarry goes ahead it will expose 1,500 villagers and 200 primary and nursery school children at the village school to the real risk of inhalation of toxic fine particulate dust with consequent permanent damage to their lungs. It will also permanently destroy the existing high-quality agricultural land, destroy ancient hedgerows, and scar the landscape.

A Government Inspector will hear the argument from both sides of the debate at an inspection to be held on 20 & 21 October at 10am. The debate will be held virtually online due to COVID-19. As the Inspectors Office can record the number of people watching, the villagers hope as many people as possible will listen to the inspection. The Inspector will also be considering the merits of the other five proposed sites and then later make his judgment. Those that wish to observe the hearing will need to click on the link to the dedicated Examination website which can be found at

The strength of feeling by Barford Residents was epitomised after the last Consultation when 880 residents responded. The second largest number of responses to another site in the County was 41. The local MP for Warwick and Leamington, Matt Western, has supported the Barford residents’ campaign for over a year, securing a debate in Parliament and presenting a national petition urging the Government to step in and halt the proposals.

Mr Western said “For me, the proposed quarry has wide-reaching negative implications for public health and environmental protections. The quarry near Barford and Wasperton is the only site in the minerals plan in such close proximity to a residential area, and it simply isn’t needed. The basis for which the site was proposed was predicated on overinflated figures for housing demand. I’ve submitted my objections to the County Council’s plan and will be speaking at the hearing, to do all I can to halt this quarry from going ahead.”

Malcolm Eykyn, one of the committee members said “We have worked tirelessly for the last 5 years raising awareness about the proposed quarry threat as well as raising substantial funds to help fight our cause. We sincerely hope that the Inspector listens to our concerns and removes the site from their plan which will otherwise permanently scar this “Barford Valley” and risk permanent scarring of residents lungs”.

Back in March the villagers raised £15,000 in less than two weeks to raise vital funds to provide professional advice to prepare the best case to take to the Inspector.

Oxford University’s wealthiest college St. John’s owns the land near Barford and Wasperton. The college, which has assets of over £650 million, has requested that Warwickshire County Council include it in their minerals land allocation plan which will allow a developer to extract vast quantities of sand and gravel from this 220-acre site which borders Barford.

If the quarry goes ahead it will see 60 lorries a day (120 lorry movements) exiting off and trying to pull across and onto the A429 for over 15 years transporting minerals along the A429 and onto the Longbridge roundabout. This will greatly impact on dirt, noise, vibration, safety and traffic congestion. Slow water-spraying lorries will also block the road which is already over congested and it is likely the lorries will use the Wellesbourne roundabout as a turning point for the M40.

For more information please visit