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

New premises unlocks latest chapter for Warwick children’s charity

New premises unlocks latest chapter for Warwick children’s charity

WHEN Rachel Ollerenshaw collected the keys for an office building in Swan Street, Warwick, it unlocked a whole new chapter for her charity.

The premises, the first dedicated HQ for Molly Olly’s Wishes, has opened its doors just weeks before Rachel’s late daughter – and inspiration behind the charity – would have turned 18.

Molly Olly's Wishes, new premises, Rachel Ollerenshaw
Rachel Ollerenshaw outside the charity’s new premises

Molly died in June 2011 after a five-year battle with a rare kidney cancer. And what followed, in Molly’s memory, has resulted in support for thousands of children around the country with terminal or life-limiting illnesses.

Rachel and husband Tim, from Hatton Park, 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.

Having gained its charity status in 2012, the charity has so far raised more than £2.5m and helped more than 15,000 children from new-born to age 18 by granting individual wishes.

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 70 hospitals and community teams, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Molly Olly’s Wishes has signed an initial two-year lease on the new office space, thanks to the support by Oakland International, which has a site in Redditch. The charity has also been helped with legal advice from Warwick solicitors Moore & Tibbetts.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “It’s a really big moment for the charity to get this space. The focus has always been on keeping costs to a minimum to ensure  that, as much money as possible goes to the children we help. As we’ve grown as a charity it’s been harder to work from home and have space for the volunteers, so getting an office has been vital to the long term strategy and vision of the charity.

“Warwick is a hugely significant town for us. It is our local town and where many retailers and people know us and to have a presence in the town is important. Because we have been based at my house and haven’t had a big sign outside a lot of people don’t know we exist, so to get that high street presence will help awareness.”

And Rachel is confident Molly would also approve.

Molly aged eight.

“I think that Molly would like it. For me the space has a heart. Having worked at home for so long and the charity being so personal, having a space that felt that it was professional but wasn’t too corporate was important.

“That’s why I love Warwick and the new office, because it feels personal and friendly and it has that heart to it.”

It comes at a crucial time for the small charity which, like many others, is feeling the impact of COVID-19. It is forecast more than £250,000 in proceeds may be lost to their coffers with fundraising events wiped from the calendar, including the charity’s biggest event of the year, the Molly Olly Ball, in November.

Rachel said: “Fundraising prior to lockdown had been on track and the reserves that the charity had has enabled us to continue our work, but this is not sustainable long term.”

“The past six months has seen donations drop by over 40%, a trend which, if it continues, will see a significant reduction in the number of wishes we can provide to children with life threatening illnesses. The ball alone would have generated around £60,000 for us.

“For the events that we plan now we have to be prepared for things changing very quickly so have to think carefully about how we organise them. We are looking at fundraising that people can do individually where we haven’t got huge outlays such as golf days or cycling events or online raffles.

“What would really help us is if people would sign up to a monthly donation. If the people who usually come to our events and spend £85 on ball tickets, for instance, could maybe commit to spending £5 or more a month and donate regularly, that would make a huge difference to us.”

Lockdown has also added immense emotional and financial pressure on many of the families being supported by Molly Olly’s which, despite diminishing funds, is working hard to continue granting wishes – although the nature of the requests has shifted from days out and experiences to gifts and equipment for bedrooms and gardens.

Rachel said: “But we have also worked with families where both parents have been made redundant a lot of the requests we receive are for necessities. For those struggling financially wishes can be for items such as a bed for sick child or supermarket vouchers to help buy food.”

“The families are scared and anxious and it has put more pressure on them and the health professionals and a lot of the organisations we work with have had to work virtually so we’ve seen big changes in how our families are supported.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, new premises, Rachel Ollerenshaw

The new premises will help futureproof the work of the Molly Olly’s team as they continue to navigate their way through a climate of huge uncertainty and ever-changing COVID legislation.

Rachel said: “We talked about doing this before the virus was even heard of. It was a worry with what has happened but actually it’s proven to be really important that we had office space which has given us an opportunity and a way forward so we can work safely.

“The team really like it and it’s great for them to have space to work properly rather than being cramped on my kitchen table or squeezed into my office at home. This way they can work more smartly and efficiently,” she said.

“This space makes us more accessible to people who can knock the door and come in and ask us what we do and that’s really important. People were probably afraid to knock on my front door at home.”

As Rachel does her best to plan the unknown road ahead, there is no time to really take stock and celebrate the latest milestone.

“This is a real milestone but it’s a journey we’ve all done together” she said. “If ever you have any moments of doubt, you then receive a phone call and you know why you’re here and it takes you right back to where we were and why it all started. Yes, we’re proud but the key thing is we want to carry on doing it and continue to grow and help as many families as possible.”

Support can be in many forms and more information about the charity’s work and how you can help is available by contacting Rachel Ollerenshaw at: rachel@mollyolly.co.uk or on 01926 698735.

Donations can also be made direct via the website at: https://www.mollyolly.co.uk/learn-about-donating/

Community hungry to help charity neighbours

Community hungry to help charity neighbours

A HUNGRY community in lockdown has helped a Hatton Park business raise hundreds of pounds for a charity close to home.

Salt and Pepper’s presented charity neighbours Molly Olly’s Wishes with £548 – its first in a series of donations this year to local good causes.

The charity was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and grants wishes and donates therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw

Its mascot 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.

But the charity has been forced to find new ways of fundraising to compensate for lost proceeds throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the cancellation of all its planned fundraising events, amounting to a forecast loss of £250,000 the charity failed to qualify for any cash grants.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Molly Olly’s Wishes want to thank Ess, Parmy and all their customers for their support. The pizzas are clearly a big hit on Hatton Park and in the wider community. The money raised is very gratefully received. These donations are vital to help Molly Olly’s continue our work supporting families. We have received so many wishes recently of things such as essentials like cots, beds, prams to electronic devices to climbing frames and swings. All of these items may not seem that important but to child who is seriously ill spending long periods in hospital or who cannot go out as they have a weakened immune system, these gifts can make a huge difference. A big thanks from Molly Olly’s.”

Parmy said: “We’ve had so much local support and help from the Hatton Park community so giving something back was always important to us and part of our business plan.

“Molly Olly’s had to be the first charity we supported, we were so touched when we found out about the amazing work they do and it’s certainly a cause we’ll support again.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Molly Ollerenshaw
Molly Ollerenshaw, aged eight.

Further details can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk

Ess Sangha and Parmy Dhillon who run Salt and Pepper’s, have pledged to continue their support of local charities through their culinary efforts.

Salt and Pepper’s provide hand-made pizza, friend chicken, sides, drinks and desserts with free delivery service throughout Warwick on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Visit: www.pizzawarwick.co.uk

Unique NHS bench goes under the hammer for children’s charity

Unique NHS bench goes under the hammer for children’s charity

A one-of-a-kind copper bench is being auctioned off to raise funds for a Warwick charity for children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses thanks to the generosity of a Solihull couple.

The bench, which bears the topical message: ‘2020 Love NHS’ was crafted from copper piping by plumbing firm Rudkin & Herbert in Leicester and bought for £2,000 by Simon and Lorraine Cave, from Solihull.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Rudkin & Herbert, COVID-19, NHS, plumbers, fundraising

The couple donated the proceeds to Leicester’s Loros Hospice and Cancer Research before then regifting the bench to Molly Olly’s Wishes, a charity which was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The Hatton-based charity works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Mascot of Molly Olly’s Wishes 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.

The donation will come at a critical time for Molly Olly’s which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is forecast to lose around £250k in fundraising this year.

Simon Cave said he became familiar with the charity after moving to Solihull with his wife Lorraine more than 20 years ago.

He said: “I wanted to donate some money to Loros but I’ve been involved in some of Molly Olly’s fundraising events for a few years now and I think it is a great cause that’s long been close to our hearts. We’re also aware how much charities are suffering at the moment.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, COVID-19, copper bench, fundraising
Ian Herbert of Rudkin & Herbert with the bench and, inset, Simon and Lorraine Cave.

Bids can be placed on the bench by texting BID to 07747 854914 with the amount, your name and preferred form of contact. (Delivery to UK address only.) The successful highest bidder will be announced on June 15th, which marks the ninth anniversary of Molly’s death.

Ian Herbert, director of Rudkin & Herbert, where a heating engineer spent a day making the bench from copper piping, said: “We felt this was the least we could do and wanted to show our appreciation for what the NHS are doing under the current circumstances. Also, my daughter has recently become an ambulance driver so it is very close to home.

But he added: “It’s not just the NHS that need our help and donations, there are hundreds of smaller worthwhile charities in our communities that need our help and donations now. Every donation helps, whether big or small.”

Molly Olly's Wishes
Rachel Ollerenshaw

The charity’s founder Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Molly Olly’s Wishes are very grateful to the team at Rudkin and Herbert and Simon and Lorraine Cave for donating this unique bench to the charity to help raise funds. It is certainly a piece that is symbolic of these extraordinary times and recognises the amazing work of the NHS.

“We hope to get lots of interest and the highest bidder will be the new owner and in the process will have helped make a difference to the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses. “

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk

Children’s charity refused COVID emergency cash

Children’s charity refused COVID emergency cash

THE founder of a Warwick charity for children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses is appealing for vital support after missing out on emergency cash to ease the impact of the pandemic to the tune of £250,000.

Many charitable organisations are learning they don’t qualify for grants due to a number of loopholes despite applications for smaller charity grants opening.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The Hatton Park-based charity helps with the emotional wellbeing of the children and their families as well as granting wishes and donating therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw with the familiar Molly Olly’s pink van.

It is forecast up to £250,000 in proceeds will be lost to their coffers with fundraising events wiped from the calendar due to COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, including the charity’s biggest event of the year, the Molly Olly Ball, in November.

Last month Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a UK COVID-19 support package worth £750m, including a dedicated £370m for small local charities.

In a live speech to the nation, Mr Sunak said: “Some charities provide critical services to support the vulnerable people and communities. For them, shutting up shop at this moment would be to contravene their very purpose, their entire reason to exist. Those charities have never been more needed than they are now and they’ve never faced such a sudden fall in their funding.

“Some £370m of the funding will support small local charities working with vulnerable people. We all know who they are, those small charities in our village, our market towns, in pockets of our cities, the unsung heroes looking after the vulnerable and holding together our social fabric.

Despite struggling to qualify for the cash lifeline, Molly Olly’s founder Rachel Ollerenshaw says the work to provide vital support must continue.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw

She said: “Children and families need our support now more than ever. The wishes that the charity grants, the consultant based at Birmingham Children’s Hospital that the charity funds, the Olly The Brave packs distributed to hospitals across the UK – all have a significant positive impact for the children and their families.

“Organisations such as the local children’s community nursing team have turned to us through the pandemic for help connecting with families and a new webpage has been designed by them which will be hosted by Molly Olly’s.

“The work of Molly Olly’s is considered to be relevant and significant by the health professionals and individuals for supporting children with life-threatening illnesses and needs to be maintained.

“Large and small charities work together to improve the lives of children and the virus does not make these children any less vulnerable.”

She added: “Sometimes the work of smaller charities can be overlooked and thought to be less significant. However, from our experience and knowing the work that other small charities do, our belief is that we are all part of a larger jigsaw here to help support vulnerable children through extremely challenging times.”

Having gained its charity status in 2012, Molly Olly’s has so far helped more than 2,000 children from new-born to age 18 by granting individual wishes. They may take the form of equipment to help a child live day to day with their condition; an alternative therapy treatment to complement traditional medicine, or even a special occasion or day out.

Molly Ollerenshaw, Molly Olly's Wishes

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.

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.

 

Matt Western MP
Matt Western MP

Warwick MP Matt Western is taking up the charity’s case. He said this week: ‘‘I’m deeply disappointed that local charity Molly Olly’s has been denied Government support, given all that they do to help children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses, and their families.’

“There are many amazing charities in Warwick and Leamington that work tirelessly year-round to help residents in need of support, and many have gone above and beyond during this crisis. But to continue this work, charities are in urgent need of financial assistance. I am urging the Government to step up and provide a comprehensive support package to the sector, so that charities like Molly Olly’s don’t fall through the cracks.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw added: “These remain worrying and uncertain times and we need, more than ever, to pull together and support the most vulnerable. If everyone reading this made a small donation it could make a big difference.”

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or details of how to donate can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk or contact Rachel on 07747 854914.

Read a case study for Molly Olly’s Wishes here.