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.
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.
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.
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