Friends adopt ‘pedalo power’ for canal fundraiser

Friends adopt ‘pedalo power’ for canal fundraiser

PEDAL power will be driving two south Warwickshire fundraisers who are putting their weight behind an unusual challenge for a local children’s charity.

Friends Alex Pearson from Stratford and Emma Brayne from Warwick will be joined by two canine companions as they travel almost 12km of The Grand Union Canal – in a pedalo!

Pedalo Challenge, Molly Olly's Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw
Alex, Emma, Archie and Chester in training.

The pair have been in training to prepare for the eight-hour challenge, which will see them set off from Radford Semele and finish at Hatton Locks, on July 13th in aid of Warwick charity Molly Olly’s Wishes.

As community champion of Morrisons, in Leamington, Alex, 33, is no stranger to fundraising, recent efforts including sponsored walks for both Safeline and Clic Sargent.

She said: “We did some really good work with other charities and I was told about the work Molly Olly’s do. I was so keen to support and help raise money for this great charity.

She added: “We’ve been doing lots of pedalling on a machine whilst working at our desks with our feet going like mad underneath. We know this is going to be hard and we are having lots of practises on the pedalo beforehand to get ourselves ready.”

“I like to think outside the box when it comes to fundraising. All my family and friends say I am mad but they know what I decide to do is for the greater good. I like to do the toughest challenge and push myself as much as possible.”

Along with Emma, Alex will be joined been joined, as on most of her challenges, with her dogs Archie and Chester.

“These two are my world and I love the fact they can join me in doing these fundraisers. Also people like to donate money because of them,” Alex added.

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 Warwick-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 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.

Part of more than £2.5m raised to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Molly Olly's Wishes
Rachel Ollerenshaw

“Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “We always love new and creative ways to fundraise and Alex’s pedalo challenge is certainly that. Alex and the team at Morrisons Leamington have been very supportive. They do so much for our local community. Molly Olly’s are very grateful for the help and would ask people to support where they can. The latest delays in the rules have meant that more fundraising events have had to be cancelled so any fundraising is very welcome as we have many families who need our support.”

The girls, who have had the support of Leamington Boats and The Canal River Trust, are also adding collection tins in the store and hope to reach their fundraising target of £500. To donate visit HERE

Emma, 39, added: “I felt I wanted to play my part to help Alex. When I heard which charity it was in aid of and learned all about what they do, it only made me want to help even more. Molly Olly’s do so much for families going through the unimaginable turmoil experienced by a poorly child, so me suffering a few sore limbs is nothing.”

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

Lion hunters invited to join charity’s festive challenge

Lion hunters invited to join charity’s festive challenge

YOUNG ‘lion hunters’ are being invited to prowl the town centre for hidden clues on a new treasure trail in Warwick this Christmas.

Throughout December keen-eyed shoppers are able to follow the clues to spot Molly Olly’s Wishes charity lion mascot Olly the Brave in 14 windows. Each one will be sporting festive outfits and displaying a letter.

Entries, which will spell out seasonal words, can then be posted through the letterbox at Molly Olly’s Wishes offices in Swan Street for the chance to win a super-sized version of Olly The Brave.

Molly Olly's Wishes, treasure trail, Christmas, Rachel Ollerenshaw
Photo by David Fawbert Photography

Participants are also invited to make a donation to the charity, which supports children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses and their families. It was established by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw in 2011 following the death of their eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The cuddly lions have their 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.

Rachel said: “The treasure trail is free but if you would like to make a donation to the charity, we would be extremely grateful. As you can imagine this year has been extremely difficult for Molly Olly’s Wishes as their fundraising has significantly reduced but we are seeing a massive increase in wishes and children requiring Olly The Brave therapeutic lions and books to help explain their journey.

“Thank you for all the retailers for their support and for making us feel so welcome in our new offices. Anything people can give to help Molly Olly’s Wishes help children and their families through their darkest days would be extremely gratefully received.”

To download the treasure trail clues visit here

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

Dog trainer takes the lead to help Christmas toys campaign

Dog trainer takes the lead to help Christmas toys campaign

A DOG trainer in Warwick has taken the fundraising lead to help bring some festive spirit to hospitalised children this Christmas – despite the pandemic.

Andy O’Brien, who runs The K9 Club, has joined forces with Molly Olly’s Wishes – even pledging to dye his hair pink – the colour of the charity – if they hit the £2,000 target.

Molly Olly's Wishes, K9 Club, Any O'Brien, Rachel Ollerenshaw, Molly Ollerenshaw, toys
Andy O’Brien of The K9 Club

Andy said: “We want to give children the best Christmas ever after this crazy year. We are trying to raise as much as we can to buy toys and wrap them up for the children stuck in hospitals over Christmas.

“We know times are hard at the moment and any amount will help to make a child’s Christmas that little bit better. Our Hatton Park neighbours, Molly Olly’s Wishes, do an amazing job and we are so happy to be teaming up with them.”

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

It 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.

Molly Olly’s 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.

Part of more than £2.5m raised to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Molly Olly’s are so lucky to be surrounded by a great community and Andy and his team are very much a part of that.

“Molly Olly’s were approached by our local community nursing team to see if we could help organise gifts for seriously ill children as the normal Christmas party run by the nurses is unable to go ahead this year. The charity is putting together gift boxes which Andy heard about and wanted to help by contributing toys.

“A variety of items will be put together to make a special gift box and delivered to families in December. Big thanks to Andy and all those that have supported him to help us bring some smiles in these challenging times.”

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

She added: “Thanks to the following companies for their support – Kilby Packaging, West Mercia, Bayliss and Harding, SCC, K9, New Horizon Logistics and to all the Molly Olly Volunteers for helping to wrap and deliver all the gifts.”

The gifts will be delivered to families by community nurses mid-December. To donate to the crowdfunding page visit: Crowdfunding to to buy Christmas presents for children with Molly Olly’s Wishes on JustGiving

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

Molly Olly’s Wishes need the support of companies and individuals to enable us to help more children. We welcome the opportunity to provide more information about our work. Please help us to make those dark days brighter. For details contact Rachel on 07747 854914.

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/

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.