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: https://www.mollyolly.co.uk

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 https://warwickshire-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/warwickshire_minerals_plan_examination_website

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 http://www.barfordresidents.co.uk/latest-stop-the-quarry-updates/

New-look business awards will honour local COVID ‘heroes’

New-look business awards will honour local COVID ‘heroes’

NOMINATIONS are being invited to recognise COVID Resilience, as part of a new-look preliminary event for next year’s Leamington Business Awards.

Newly named The Leamington Business Resilience Awards, the seventh annual event will see the introduction of three additional categories recognising Business Resilience, Business Pivoting and Lockdown Hero.

Established in 2014, the LBAs champion and celebrate the work of local businesses, individuals and organisations while also raising vital funds for local charities, culminating with a glittering black-tie ceremony next year.

While the main awards categories are set to be announced in the new year, nominations have now opened for a first ceremony celebrating resilience.

Leamington Business COVID Resilience Awards, Jonathan Smith, Talk Business UK
Jonathan Smith of Talk Business UK

2020 Business Resilience Award: This award will go to a business that has demonstrated determination and resilience throughout the pandemic and tackled challenges head-on.

Business Pivot Award: This category is open to any business that can demonstrate how they have ‘pivoted’ their product or service during 2020, ie. adapted their offering for new or existing customers, thus allowing their business to survive – and even thrive.

Lockdown Hero Award: This award recognises the Leamington business that has gone ‘above and beyond’ during 2020. The business may have provided products to vulnerable groups free of charge, offered their services pro-bono to struggling local businesses or individuals, or spread positivity during challenging times. In this category, one can either self-nominate, or nominate another business.

The COVID-friendly hybrid event, organised by Talk Business UK founder Jonathan Smith, will take place on December 11th at a venue to be announced.

Award sponsors already include chartered accountants and financial advisors Harrison Beale & Owen, Lodders solicitors, and The Box Factory but more are invited to get onboard by contacting Jonathan Smith at: leamingtonbusinessawards@gmail.com or jon@talkbusinessuk.co.uk

Jonathan said: ”With the challenges and restrictions that the current COVID crisis has given us we decided to postpone the main full Business Awards to early 2021 but felt it was perfect timing to recognise the inspiring effort and achievements many have made with their businesses and their communities.

“We have now designed a unique Awards program to celebrate these achievements which is likely to be a new Hybrid event involving a small live venue with online links to all the finalists and supporters.”

Leamington Business COVID Resilience Awards, Talk Business UK, Jonathan Smith

Nominations for the main Leamington Business Awards will open on January 21st 2021 when businesses have the opportunity to enter 12 categories: New Business of the Year; Business and Community Award; Customers Service Excellence Award; Young Person of the Year Award, Employer of the Year; South Warwickshire Achievement of the Year; Innovation of the Year; Outstanding Achievement of the Year; Independent Business of the Year; Property Business of the Year, Warwick District Charity of the Year and The People’s Choice Award.

A winner from all the categories will also be selected for the prestigious Judges’ Choice Award – Business of the Year.

Further details about the awards categories and how to nominate are available at: www.leamingtonbusinessawards.co.uk

To nominate a business visit: https://www.leamingtonbusinessawards.co.uk/whats-happening-in-2020/ Nominations close on Friday, November 13th after which a shortlist of three finalists for each category will be announced. Finalists will be contacted by email and via the website and social media.

Author sets out to help others with new books about bereavement

Author sets out to help others with new books about bereavement

A life tinged with heartbreak prompted one mum to take up the pen – and Baby Loss Awareness Week marks the launch of her latest book tackling the subject.

Angel Warrior is Sharon Luca-Chatha’s touching and personal account of the past eight years of her life, following the stillbirth of her son at 36 weeks.

It comes just a month after the launch of her illustrated children’s book Why Did Grandad Die? – geared at helping three to ten-year-olds understand bereavement.

Sharon Luca-Chatha, stillbirth, Why Did Grandad Die, Angel Warrior, The Luca Foundation, Baby Loss Awareness Week
Sharon with her new books

In a life plagued by trauma, including domestic violence in a previous arranged marriage and crippling illness which has left her unable to walk unaided, grieving for Luca is described by Sharon as her ‘darkest and most devastating time.’

But none of it has got in the way of her sheer determination to keep his memory alive. As well as changing her surname to Luca-Chatha, Sharon, from Coventry, has gone on to establish a charity in his name which has already raised thousands of pounds.

It’s agonising for Sharon and her husband Jas to know they’ll never have the answers they crave as to the cause of their son’s death eight years ago. But it was six years later after suffering a breakdown on the anniversary of Luca’s death, that Sharon vowed to help other parents suffering the same tragedy.

The Luca Foundation, which counts among its ambassadors Poldark actor Christian Brassington and retired Hollywood screenwriter Marie Rowe, raises funds for the purchase and repair of refrigerated cuddle cots which allow grieving parents precious extra time with their ‘angel babies’ – time the couple desperately wish they themselves had had.

Sharon, 44, said: “A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. We were beyond devastated, our world had fallen apart. From the moment he died on the Monday inside my womb, to the Thursday when I gave birth to him, everything was in a daze.

“ ‘Growth restriction’ was eventually given as cause of death. When we got the post mortem results, I was hoping it was going to say they’d found some sort of defect that would have shortened his life and that he would have suffered – something to give me some sense of closure.

“We had exactly the same danger alert for our second son Ky who came up small on the growth chart at 24 weeks exactly as Luca had and that did scare us. But from then on I was monitored weekly and, on my persistence, he was induced early. I couldn’t bear the thought of him going past 36 weeks in the pregnancy because that’s when we lost Luca.

“He was delivered exactly a week before Luca’s birthday and the cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so if he had gone any longer he would have suffocated in my womb and we’d have lost a second child.”

Sharon Luca-Chatha, stillbirth, Why Did Grandad Die, Angel Warrior, The Luca Foundation, Baby Loss Awareness Week

Her second book Angel Warrior, which took a year to complete, relives the last eight years of Sharon’s journey. But she admits it was hard going at times.

She said: “While it was a cathartic experience getting my feelings down on paper, I struggled to get through the first couple of chapters because they made me emotional.

“The title came to me when I was grieving for Luca. The definition of a warrior is to keep fighting on and find your inner strength.

“My son up there in the sky is the angel and I’m the warrior down here, having to live my life without him. I’ve thought for a long time, why don’t bereaved parents have a title, like a widow or an orphan etc. Why can’t angel warrior be the title for bereaved parents?

Sharon Luca-Chatha, stillbirth, Why Did Grandad Die, Angel Warrior, The Luca Foundation, Baby Loss Awareness Week

“We have to live with such strength to get through the rest of our lives because we’ve gone through the most horrific kind of loss that you can.”

Meanwhile, Why Did Grandad Die? is receiving positive feedback following its release on September 4th.

Sharon’s ambition for the book, which features illustrations by Exhall artist Phaedra Elson, is to one day see it in every classroom in the country.

Sharon explained: “When my son Ky was at school and he would tell his classmates ‘I have a brother in the sky’ and said some of them laughed because they didn’t understand that so it would have been nice for the teacher to then pull a book out and say ‘this is what Ky means.’

“The book explains death in a very child-friendly way and I would like it to end up in all primary schools so it can aid a real life conversation as a tool for bereavement, and so the rest of the class can understand why that person is upset.

“People touched by loss and ex-teachers are saying it is a wonderful book and much needed and something that has been missing from the bookshelves for a long time.”

Why Did Grandad Die? is available, priced £9.99 from The Luca Foundation website where 100% of the proceeds will go back into the charity. It is also available on Amazon.

Angel Warrior, priced £12.99, is available to purchase through LK Eco Style and Amazon.

Sharon Luca-Chatha, stillbirth, Why Did Grandad Die, Angel Warrior, The Luca Foundation, Baby Loss Awareness Week, CARIAD Personal Ceremonies
Sharon receives her Harmony Glass angel glass memorial from Ali Fleming of CARIAD Personal Ceremonies

Sharon recently commissioned a glass memorial containing the remnants of Luca’s ashes which is now in pride of place in her home.

She said of the angel memorial, from Harmony Glass (www.harmonyglass.co.uk): “I think it’s important for people to understand that there are options as to what people can do with their baby’s ashes.

“When I was presented with the angel it blew me away. I was so emotional. I couldn’t believe that my son is in the glass.”

Celebrant spreads harmony with new glass ceremony

Celebrant spreads harmony with new glass ceremony

A MUM-of-two who found love the second time around through the Lost and Found columns of her local newspaper, is using her new business to pioneer unique ideas – celebrating relationships!

Celebrant Ali Fleming, from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, has become the first in the UK to offer a bespoke Harmony Glass ceremony at her weddings and funerals.

The highly personalised experience – the latest to be launched by CARIAD Personal Ceremonies – marks a new collaboration with local glass artist Kayleigh Young from Market Bosworth and can even provide memorials containing a loved one’s ashes.

CARIAD Personal Ceremonies, Harmony Glass, Ali Fleming

Guests at funerals, weddings and other ceremonies are invited to come forward and pour pre-selected coloured glass crystals into a receptacle to create a bespoke piece of art to mark the occasion.

This is later blown into a chosen design at Kayleigh’s studio at Shenton Railway Station where relatives are also given the option of adding ashes into the piece to create a truly bespoke memorial following a funeral.

Ali, 61, said: “I’m always on the lookout for the chance to offer a mini ceremony within a ceremony. My big focus is also on the guests. The couple give a lot of thought and time to who they want with them on their day.

“The guests are often sat there bored, waiting for the bar to open, looking at the couple’s backs. I love to write the ceremony so the guests themselves can be involved in the process. And over the years I’ve come up with lots of different ideas to help it all flow.

“Harmony Glass is written specially into the ceremony with music playing and the family come forward and, at the same time, pour their chosen individual coloured crystals into a glass receptacle which then gets sent to the studio to be transformed into their chosen piece of glass art. They can also order a video of it being made if they want to.

“There are also six smaller pieces that can be made into unique gifts for members of the wedding party, such as baubles and paperweights etc.”

CARIAD Personal Ceremonies, Harmony Glass, Ali Fleming

Kayleigh said the ashes memorials were also becoming a more popular choice among the bereaved.

She added: “They help people have a small piece of their loved one displayed in a beautiful way without the need to have an urn or a wooden box sat on the mantelpiece. It also enables people to scatter the remainder of the ashes if they want to.”

The Harmony Glass Experience is one of several ceremonies CARIAD offers as part of weddings, funerals and baby namings, others including Ring Warming (passing rings around the family or guests to warm in their hands while thinking loving thoughts); Handfasting (Binding hands in symbolically coloured ribbons); Sand Ceremony (guests unite to pour different coloured sands into a shaped receptacle); and Tree of Life (guests write heartfelt messages onto wooden hearts or doves and hang them on a steel tree to create a special memento.)

CARIAD Personal Ceremonies, Harmony Glass, Ali Fleming
Kayleigh Young

The latest collaboration marks a proud chapter for entrepreneur Ali who continues to expand the business she established in her mid-fifties following a return to education.

“It was all a bit of a shock being a single mum at the age of 36. I realised at this point I was going to have a carve out my own career to pay for the boys so I moved back to my home town to be near my parents and decided to take an intensive A-level course and then studied a degree. This involved me having to study in Leicester so I then uprooted myself and the two boys again,” she said.

“I met my second husband Paul through a lost and found newspaper column in the Leicester Mercury. It was love at first sight! We often say we don’t know who was lost and who was found!’

“When we were planning for our wedding we went to visit a register office and I was really taken with it. I said to Paul afterwards, ‘that looks like a really nice job.’

“About three months I noticed they were advertising for staff at Leicestershire Registration Service so I applied. The interview process took place in the same room we got married in!”

After working as a registrar for 12 years, it was while helping plan her best friend’s wedding, that an ambitious Alison encountered what she describes as her ‘lightbulb moment.’

She said: “She wanted to get married in her garden and we planned a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. There were so many unique themed and personalised elements they wanted, such as a string quartet and the children to do readings.

“It was absolutely amazing and I thought to myself afterwards, why can’t this be done all the time? Registration is very rigid and celebrancy is the complete opposite. You have carte blanche to do whatever you like with the couple.

“So I booked myself in on some residential training while I was still working and took the leap into self-employment as a celebrant.

And so CARIAD was born.

The Welsh word for love, CARIAD (Ceremonies And Rituals In Any Destination) was also so-named as a romantic tribute to her own love story – with Welsh husband Paul.

She said: “The most rewarding part of the weddings for me is the journey you go on with the couples, which can be up to two years, and the privilege of working so closely with them. You get to know them as if you’re a member of the family or a close friend.

“When I see everybody all assembled in a ceremony and the bride walking down the aisle I love looking back and the scene gives me goose bumps. It’s lovely be part of such a wonderful journey. I call this a vocation, not a job.”

CARIAD Personal Ceremonies, Harmony Glass, Ali Fleming

But this year has brought the work of celebrants into even sharper focus as they’ve seen first-hand the raw, and often devastating, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since lockdown Ali has helped 14 couples rearrange their postponed wedding ceremonies and, although herself forced to shield due to Paul’s underlying health conditions, says many of her colleagues conducting funerals have been through a challenging time.

She said: “I know many celebrants who went through funerals with families and it was heartbreaking with the restrictions on the number of guests allowed. There was no contact allowed with the coffin and most relatives had to rely on experiencing the funeral through a virtual link.

“I was relieved it was something I didn’t have to be a part of because I know it was very traumatic and exhausting for a lot of celebrants and many of them had to take time out and seek counselling.”

But Ali is now looking forward to the next chapter for CARIAD with high hopes for the Harmony Glass Experience launch.

She said: “In funeral services nobody comes forward and does anything. In your traditional chapel or crematorium ceremony, everybody sits and there’s no interaction so the fact that during a quiet time of reflection in the service there is the opportunity there for family members to come forward and do the blending of glass and have the ashes added at a later stage, is unique.”

CARIAD Personal Ceremonies, Harmony Glass, Ali Fleming, Sharon Luca-Chatha
Sharon Luca-Chatha receives her angel ashes memorial from Ali Fleming. Read about her journey with stillbirth here

Harmony Glass gift vouchers are also available to purchase.

And her advice to others contemplating a new enterprise?

“If you’ve got that drive and determination then go for it because you’ll always regret it if you don’t. There is no better time than now. And there is so much help out there with business start-ups and free advice.”

Visit CARIAD Personal Ceremonies at: www.harmonyglass.co.uk