Friends climb back in the pedalo for canal fundraiser

Friends climb back in the pedalo for canal fundraiser

PEDAL power will once again be driving two Warwickshire fundraisers who are preparing to travel ten miles along The Grand Union Canal – in a pedalo!

Friends Alex Pearson from Stratford and Emma Brayne from Warwick are preparing to navigate tunnels and locks as part of their intrepid challenge, in aid of local children’s charity Molly Ollys.

The pair, who will again be joined on their journey by Alex’s canine companions Archie and Chester, are hoping to beat last year’s total of £2,000, including match-funding by The Morrisons Foundation.

The fundraiser will take place on June 15th – a hugely significant date for the charity – the anniversary of eight-year-old Molly Ollerenshaw’s death. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the charity.

The ladies, who have had the support of Leamington Boats and The Canal River Trust, will be pedalling between The View at Wootton Wawen and Hatton, where Molly’s family live. The end of the challenge will also be marked by a poignant release of 20 butterflies outside Hatton Café.

Molly Ollys, pedalo, Grand Union Canal, charity
Olly The Brave with Rachel Ollerenshaw, Emma Brayne, Alex Pearson, Adam Brayne and David Fletcher and dogs Archie and Chester

Alex, a community champion for Morrisons in Leamington, said: “At the store we really want to support our local charities and when I met Rachel it was emotional to hear Molly’s story. This is a great charity which supports so many children in both our community and around the country.

“Last year’s pedalo challenge was amazing. We just hope the weather is kind to us again this year! We’ll be trying to get in stretches and protein breaks along the way to help keep us going. Our main aim is to raise money and awareness for the charity but have some fun doing it. Last year we had a lot of laughs on the way.”

Collection tins will be in the store and there is the opportunity to find out more about the work of the charity on their stand throughout the week commencing June 20th.

Molly Ollys emotionally supports children between 0 and 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. It does that through its Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges.

Between 2017 and 2020, the charity funded Birmingham’s first paediatric palliative consultant as there was no such consultant for the region. That position has now become permanent and is currently funded through the NHS.

The charity works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community. One key project was the creation and refurbishment of Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. This is a safe and non-clinical space where medical teams and families can have important discussions.

Molly’s mum and the charity’s Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw, said: “This will be a bittersweet day for me as the 15th June is the date Molly passed away 11 years ago.

“Alex and Morrisons Leamington have been such great supporters of ours for the past couple of years and following the success of last year’s pedalo challenge, Alex was keen to offer her fundraising support again. She seems to enjoy putting herself through pain! We are cheering her and Emma on from the sidelines of the towpath.”

Molly Ollys, pedalo, Grand Union Canal, charity
Olly The Brave with David Fletcher, Adam Brayne, Alex Pearson, Rachel Ollerenshaw and Emma Brayne and dogs Archie and Chester

The girls will once again be supported by Alex’s friend David Fletcher and Emma’s husband Adam Brayne who will offer moral support and lock-keeping duties along the route – as well as raising money themselves. Donations for their sponsored 10-mile walk can be made here

Emma said: “Alex’s reputation for being so kind and generous precedes her and she has collaborated on a huge number of charitable events that I have ran. We have become somewhat of a double act!

“This year’s 10-mile course reflects the tenth anniversary of the charity. Half a kilometre of this epic journey involves travelling in complete darkness through Shrewley Tunnel which fills me with complete and utter dread, but I’m sure our strong will and determination will get us through to the light at the end of the tunnel!”

To support Alex and Emma, donations can be made here

Since Molly Ollys started more than £3 million has been raised to emotionally support children across the UK. Anyone wishing to donate can do here

Final appeal to support fundraising campaign in memory of late friend

Final appeal to support fundraising campaign in memory of late friend

FUNDRAISERS have amassed more than £115k in memory of their friend Worcestershire fruit farmer Colin Broomfield, to support a brain tumour charity established by England cricketer Ashley Giles and his wife Stine.

Members of ‘Team Colin’ are appealing for final donations for The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund before closing the fundraising campaign next month (February), which marks the second anniversary of his death.

The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund, Ashley Giles, Stine Giles, charity, Colin Broomfield
From left – Joe, Colin, Fiona and Chloe Broomfield.

Owner of Broomfield’s Farm in Holt Heath, Colin died in February 2020, aged 52, almost two years after being diagnosed with a terminal Glioblastoma brain tumour.

The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund was founded in 2015 by former England cricketer and now England’s Director of Cricket, Ashley Giles MBE and his wife Stine following her own multiple battles with the disease.

In the first year of fundraising for The Giles Trust, Team Colin have exceeded their original £70,000 target to raise lost funds due to the pandemic.

A close friend of Colin’s for more than 40 years, Ivor Allchurch, said: “Myself and another close friend of Colin’s, Jim Weston, got talking after the funeral about doing some fundraising and Colin’s wife Fiona said she would like it to benefit The Giles Trust because they knew Ashley and Stine Giles from Bromsgrove School and Stine had been helpful in supporting and giving her advice.

“The original £70,000 target was set because that is the amount the charity would have raised at the Giles Trust Gala Dinner which had to be cancelled due to lockdown.”

Jim Weston’s Broom Wagon Wobblers raised more than half of the total in a cycle challenge in May last year.

Jim said: “The Wobblers just needed a good excuse to get fitter and what was going to be four of us turned into 14. It was a good way to remember Colin, has given us all some great muddy memories and raised some funds towards the great work that the Giles’ Trust do.

“Colin was one of the good guys, great fun and a true friend. He was fit and healthy until he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund, Ashley Giles, Stine Giles, charity, Colin Broomfield

Other support included £10,000 raised from a fundraising dinner hosted by a group of Worcestershire businessmen who call themselves ‘The Fine Fourteen’ and digital support from another of Colin’s friends Steve Thomas.

Fundraising is being encouraged until the end of February in all forms, including social and sporting events – or donations here.

In 2006, Ashley Giles rushed back from Australia, where he had been part of the Ashes team, to be with his wife, Stine, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was removed successfully, but the family were devastated to learn in 2012 that more tumours had developed. In 2018, Stine was diagnosed with another tumour that required immediate treatment – and thanks to the world-class experts at QEHB, her outcome was positive.

Stine became one of the first people in the country to be treated with the
TomoTherapy machine, which had been purchased by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) Charity just weeks before. Without it, she had few treatment options available to her.

Experiencing first-hand how important research and cutting-edge equipment was, Stine vowed that if her treatment was successful and her prognosis was good, she would endeavour to raise funds for brain tumour research.

Since then it has raised more than £800,000, some of which has funded a full-time research nurse post which is helping to transform clinical research in neuro-oncology at the University Hospitals Birmingham.

As a charity the Trust operates in the medical research sector, working closely with frontline specialists, consultants, and clinicians. This helps them to target their funding to where it is needed most, including a pioneering surgical navigation system which is translating into improved patient outcomes and more rapid recovery times.

The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund, Ashley Giles, Stine Giles, charity, Colin Broomfield
Ivor and Colin

Dr Sara Meade. Oncology Consultant at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham where Colin was treated, said: “The impact from the Giles’ Trust has been incredible. The contribution from the charity has significantly impacted on the delivery of the highest standard of care in this patient group. The benefits of the Giles’ Trust donations have been felt by patients and staff.”

More information about The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund and details about how to help or donate, can be found here.

Ivor Allchurch added: “Colin was a charismatic kind and loving man and this fundraising is also our way of celebrating his life.

“Despite Colin having received fantastic treatment and fighting extremely hard, there’s still a long way to go in advancing the treatment of this disease and raising awareness.

He added: “Fiona has had to pick up the reins herself to keep the business going. This was very challenging for her as, like every other business, it was experiencing the effects on trading left by the pandemic, but two years later the business continues successfully and is supported greatly by the local community.

“Colin would be incredibly proud of what Fiona’s done and of his son Joe and daughter Chloe for the way they’ve coped.”

CASE STUDY: Jessica Weeks, from Coventry

CASE STUDY: Jessica Weeks, from Coventry

“They said she wouldn’t survive the birth but she did – she lived for 57 wonderful minutes.”

For any parent, having less than one hour of memories of their child to treasure for life is simply unthinkable. For Jessica Weeks, from Coventry, it is only too real –  but meeting her precious girl, albeit so briefly, is something she’ll never regret.

Hannah's House, Jessica Weeks, loss, My Darling
Jessica and Andy had precious little time with Emelia after she was born

It was at the 12-week scan, in January 2017, that the bottom fell out of Jessica’s world. She and husband Andy received the devastating news that Emelia had severe abnormalities and they should expect the worst.

Forty-year-old Jessica recalls: “Emelia was diagnosed with spina bifida and anencephaly and it was the biggest kick in the gut. We were told she wouldn’t make it past 20 weeks, then told 28 weeks and then that she wouldn’t survive the birth. But she was my fighter, my little miracle baby and she lived – and we had 57 wonderful minutes with her.”

Four years later Jessica finds herself surrounded by the family she so desperately craved, with two cherished children, aged 6 and 2 and another on the way. But it was in Emelia’s memory that she was invited to the launch event last week for Sandra Godley’s charity record.

Hannah's House, Jessica Weeks, loss, My Darling
Jessica Weeks and daughter Hannah, 6, after whom the charity in Emelia’s memory is named.

Emelia’s legacy also proudly lives on in the form of Hannah’s House, established by Jessica in her firstborn’s name. The charity offers a place of refuge after the loss of siblings to neonatal death, miscarriage and stillbirth.

It provides vital support through Parenting With Hope groups as well as counselling and ‘Celebration Days.’ And a feature of Jessica’s long-term aims is for the charity to work more closely around bereavement with University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire, where she both met and lost her precious girl on the same day.

“I wanted to take the pain of our loss and turn it into something to be able to help other people, by working with their other children and help them to understand death,” she said.

“My eldest daughter Hannah was two when we lost Emelia and there was nowhere for us to go. There was lots of help for us as parents but it was really hard for us to explain to a two-year-old why her little sister didn’t get to come home with mummy from the hospital.

“The following year we had another baby, our son Daniel, and I found that again there was nowhere to turn for support with pregnancy after loss.

“Sadly I knew I wasn’t going to be the last mum who would have to bury their child, who has to think about how they’re going to remember them as opposed to how they’re going to bring them up. I decided I didn’t want the pain we were feeling to be in vain.

“Hannah’s House was something I always wanted to do and finally got charitable status in February.”

She is also keen to encourage wider discussion around the sensitive subject of neonatal terminal diagnosis and available options to parents.

She said: “I knew as her mum the only thing I could give my little girl was the opportunity of life. They didn’t know how long she would survive or, if she did, how long we would have her for but there was that chance of life and she deserved that opportunity.

“We made the right decision for us but of course I appreciate it might not be the right decision for everybody. I’m just so happy that I got to see her big brown eyes.”

As Jessica and Andy continue to navigate the long path of grief ahead, they also look forward to meeting the newest member of the Weeks family in November, although Jessica admits there will always be a hole in the family that can never be filled.

She said: “I really love my children but it’s so hard when you look at them and think someone is missing. That’s what connects us as parents in the support group.

“When you get the question ‘how many children do you have?’ you can feel a bit like a rabbit in the headlights. Sometimes I’ll say I’ve just got the two and Hannah will chip in with ‘what about Emelia?’ But now four years later I am more easily able to say I have three children – soon to be four – but only three of them live with me and one lives in heaven.

“Hannah knows that Emelia is in her future so when she gets to heaven she’ll be able to meet her sister. And she has birthday and Christmas cards from her.”

Hannah's House, Jessica Weeks, loss, My Darling

Jessica, Andy, Hannah and Daniel, were proud to be among specially invited guests at the launch event for My Darling, at The Telegraph’s Rooftop Bar in Coventry on National Grief Awareness Day. (August 31st)

The release of the single, written and performed by MOBO Award-nominated Coventry musician Sandra Godley, was also marked by the release of 100 white balloons in honour of lost loved ones.

Jessica said: “Being a part of the event with my other children was just wonderful – being able to remember our daughter as well as all the other babies that didn’t get to come home. The song is absolutely beautiful. It really captures the emotion of being separated from somebody you love.”

For more information about Hannah’s House visit here

Donations can be made via this link

My Darling, Sandra Godley, Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly's Wishes, Coventry & Warwickshire MIND, balloons release
Releasing the balloons at the launch in memory of lost loved ones.


Raffle offers £1k worth of prizes in aid of five local charities

Raffle offers £1k worth of prizes in aid of five local charities

HOSPITAL charities in Warwickshire will be among those to benefit from a raffle to help good causes in the county.

Organisers of Warwickshire’s Summer 2020 Charity Raffle hope to raise £5,000 to share between five Warwickshire charities.

The charities are University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity (UHCW Charity), South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust Charity (SWFT Charity), The George Eliot Hospital Charity (GEH Charity), Coventry & Warwickshire Mind, and Coventry & Warwickshire Age UK.

Entrants will have a chance to win one of 50 prizes worth over £1,000 in total.

They include two weeks of one-to-one wedding planning assistance, a VIP pamper and prosecco party for eight people, a cooking workshop, a meal for two at Cafe Vin Cinq, and a one-month free gym membership voucher with a personalised training programme.

Organiser Sarah Cheney said: “In the past months, there has been a lot of fundraising for national charities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we want to raise funds to help our local community directly so they can continue to provide their invaluable services to Warwickshire.”

Entry costs a minimum of £5. Visit for more information.