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.

‘Grant would help sustain the vital work of our charity’

‘Grant would help sustain the vital work of our charity’

THE founder of a Warwick charity for children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses has welcomed the Chancellor’s financial support which, she says, she hopes will help sustain their vital work during the pandemic.

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.

It is estimated more than £120,000 in proceeds will be lost to their coffers with fundraising events wiped from the calendar due to COVID-19 for at least the next three months.

Molly Olly’s founder Rachel Ollerenshaw with charity mascot Olly The Brave.

At a recent Government daily news conference, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a generous UK support package worth £750m, including a dedicated £370m for small local charities.

He has also pledged to match pound for pound the proceeds from the BBC’s new Big Night In charitable appeal on April 23rd.

In his latest 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.

“At this time when many are hurting, tired and confined, we need the gentleness of charities in our lives. It gives us hope, it makes us stronger and it reminds us that we depend on each other.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw is still awaiting confirmation that her charity qualifies for the grant but said: “We welcome the announcement by the UK Government. Large and small charities work together to improve the lives of children and the virus does not make these children any less vulnerable.

“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. We all have a value and often the nature of smaller more personal charities with more direct contact can be hugely beneficial and help support the work of the larger, national charities. The flatter structure of the smaller charities can help decisions be made faster.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Molly Ollerenshaw
Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

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.

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.

There are now three books in the series, all written and illustrated by local author Diane Maybey.

Rachel added: “Molly Olly’s are continuing to support children with life- threatening illnesses at this extraordinary time through COVID-19 in a variety of ways. This is through our funding of the first Consultant in Paediatric Palliative Medicine based at Birmingham Children’s Hospital who cares for children both at the hospital and in the wider community. This post has been funded by Molly Olly’s for two years. It is also through our wish granting that provides everything from supermarket vouchers or toys that can be used to occupy or distract children whilst undergoing treatment.

“The charity is also currently working with the local community nursing teams to see if we can help widen the offer of support and information available to vulnerable children and their families at this time.

“Like so many other charities, Molly Olly’s have seen numerous fundraising activities cancelled that will lead to a large shortfall in our charitable donations and we are concerned about the long-term impact. The charity supports hundreds of children each year and has supported several key NHS projects since being founded in 2011.”

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.

Warwick MP Matt Western is taking up the charity’s case. He said this week: “Local charities such as Molly Olly’s Wishes do fantastic work to support those who are in desperate need. Every member of the community is facing hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak, and charities are no exception.

“I welcome the Government’s announcement to provide financial support to charities to ensure they can maintain their survival during and beyond this crisis. However, we are currently lacking in detail, and many organisations doubt that the funding available will be enough.

“I sincerely hope (and will be pushing for) local charities such as Molly Olly’s Wishes will receive their fair share.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw added: “While we look into this funding, 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.

Mum’s legacy to late daughter continues to help thousands of children

Mum’s legacy to late daughter continues to help thousands of children

Saturday, 6th September 2006 was the day the Ollerenshaw’s lives changed forever.

It was only a few weeks off daughter Molly’s fourth birthday, when Rachel and Tim noticed the first signs of her illness.

While on a family day out Molly became increasingly uncomfortable and the situation quickly escalated when, the next day, she found herself in A&E. A scan later detected a tumour in her left kidney.

What followed was the worst possible news – it had been diagnosed as a rare kind of kidney cancer called a Wilms tumour and she was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to begin a six-month course of chemotherapy before undergoing an operation to remove the kidney.

Pride of Birmingham, Molly Olly's Wishes
Molly pictured on her fourth birthday.

She was given the all-clear and life began to return to normal for the Warwickshire school pupil, until the news came just 18 months later – the cancer had returned, this time on her bowel. More chemotherapy followed and the tumour was again removed, but Molly struggled to cope with her treatment the second time around.

It was during this time that Molly joined the CLIC Sargent Youth Advisory Group to help improve the lives of children with cancer and, in 2010, narrated an Ardmann Studios short animated film designed as a guide for coping with radiotherapy. It is being widely used today in the UK and overseas to help improve the patient experience.

Free from cancer for a few more months, May 2010 was to bring the news the family had dreaded – the cancer had returned again to Molly’s liver. And, despite a further operation, a stem cell transplant and a further aggressive round of chemotherapy, another fourth tumour appeared in March 2011.

It was to be just two and a half precious months until Molly lost her brave battle and slipped away at the family home in Hatton Park on 15th June 2011, with mum and dad by her side.

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

Tim and Rachel had 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.

Rachel said: “It never ceases to amaze us how many people Molly inspired in her short life. She achieved more in that time than many of us do in our lifetimes. She had a great smile and a big heart to go with it.

“We miss her so very much and words cannot describe the pain we feel no longer being able to hug her, have her with us and enjoy her perspective on life.

“We take massive comfort from helping other children and their families in their dark days and that keeps Molly in all our hearts.”

The charity has come a long way in eight years, and this year marked its £2 million fundraising milestone, of which Rachel and Tim are justifiably proud.

Rachel said: “What is particularly poignant for me is that the donation that took us to the £2m was from a family that the charity had supported who wanted to give back. It is a privilege to help and I want to acknowledge all those individuals and companies who have enabled us.”

Reflecting on the charity’s early days, Rachel added: “I wouldn’t say I had any grand ideas at the beginning. There were no strategies as such. I just wanted to help as many people as possible.

“I think Molly Olly’s is part of a big jigsaw with other people like CLIC Sargent, the community nursing teams, the hospital – you put us all together and we can help get people through.

“The hospital are brilliant at helping you and looking after you and getting you through medically, CLIC Sargent will come in and be that link between home and hospital but it’s more of the emotional support that we will offer to people. It’s about putting all those pieces together.”

Tim Ollerenshaw said: “When we started the charity I never anticipated that there would be a day when we could announce that £2m had been raised. What a testament to all those who have contributed for the benefit of children and their families challenged by serious illness.

“One of my fears when Molly died is that she would be forgotten but every day she lives on with the help the charity provides to others. Molly was full of smiles, positivity and thoughtfulness and incredibly determined. The charity aims to mirror those traits in our work.”

Having gained its charity status in 2012, the charity has so far helped more than 2,000 children from newborn 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.

Rachel said: “In doing the wishes the one thing I hadn’t anticipated is how grateful people are and how they want to fundraise for you in return. As we grow and provide more wishes, more families want to help the charity.

“We know that little things can have a big impact and that time spent with family is priceless. Any request for a wish is discussed with families and the relevant health care professional to ensure that it supports the child as much as possible.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Warwick, Rachel Ollerenshaw
Olly the Brave joins the fundraising effort at last year’s Leamington Carnival parade.

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane that helps to explain and normalise the hair loss that comes with many types of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly the Brave pack that has now been handed out to 40 hospitals across the UK along with a book Olly The Brave And The Wigglys.

There are now three books in the series, all written and illustrated by local author Diane Maybey. The first two were Highly Commended by the British Medical Association at the 2017 Patient Information Awards, and the third instalment, published in March this year, helps children who struggle after treatment to return to a ‘normal’ life.

The Ollerenshaws have also been overwhelmed by the amount of fundraising support they have received including a wide variety of events from gala balls and sporting occasions through to individual sponsored challenges.

But one of the charity’s proudest achievements came in April last year with the funding of the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Rachel said: “The hospital did not have a palliative paediatrician and had been trying to get funding for the post for some time. This is a massive achievement for a small charity like ours.”

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.

Rachel added: “When children are newly diagnosed with any life- threatening or terminal illness, the shock to both parents and patients is immense. The hospital environment, full of new sights, sounds and smells can be disturbing.

“They are very quickly thrown into an environment alien to them and have to take in a whole new world of procedures, language and interactions with doctors, nurses and other health professionals. This all has to be done while accepting the diagnosis itself. It is a very frightening and challenging time for all concerned.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw is pictured with Michelle Heaton and Claudia Jessie at The
Pride of Birmingham awards event in Birmingham last year. (2019)

It’s certainly been a deeply emotional journey for the Ollerenshaws, but one that Rachel says has brought a whole new perspective.

“I feel very privileged to be able to help people and do something that I find very rewarding and that you feel is making a very real difference to people’s lives. Situations like Molly’s are rare and that can make you feel isolated and alone. We want families to feel supported and to know that we can offer help.

“Receiving the wishes and hearing all the different stories is emotional and very sad at times but sharing these experiences is also therapeutic and builds very strong friendships and a better understanding.”

Molly was the middle child of three and for brother Ben, now at university, and sister Maeve, it’s also been the steepest of emotional learning curves.

Rachel said: “Maeve was two when Molly was diagnosed and Ben was five. I never told them untruths. So while we might not have been blunt in saying this is what it is, we never skirted around the truth and when they asked ‘Is Molly going to die?’ I said ‘yes’ because I didn’t want them to hear it from somebody else. I wanted to be the one to deliver that information to my children. It helps them to come to terms with things.

“All four of us dealt with it very differently. We’re a close family but all of us reacted differently and I think it’s about accepting that. There is no right or wrong way necessarily. It’s about letting people come to terms with things in their own time.”

But what advice does Rachel have for families experiencing the crippling pain of a recent child bereavement?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We were very fortunate having people around us but still I didn’t like asking for help and you always think there is somebody more deserving than you. It’s all about connecting with the people who get what your journey is, allowing them to help you and providing you with that extra support or signposting you somewhere.”

For Molly Olly’s Wishes though, the fundraising continues in earnest with a host of events already planned or in the pipeline. Pictured above are just of the fundraising events and fundraisers over the past 12 months.

Rachel said: “The key thing for Molly while she was ill was just being normal and being able to do the same things as her peers, like wearing the clothes she wanted to wear, having her hair styled – just being a girl. So, for me, it’s about giving people those moments that make them feel they’re accepted like everybody else and not out on the edge.

“Thank you to everyone who has helped us and please keep supporting as sadly there will always be more children that need us.”

To find out more information about the charity or how to help or donate visit: https://www.mollyolly.co.uk

CORONAVIRUS: Warwick charity needs you now more than ever

CORONAVIRUS: Warwick charity needs you now more than ever

THE founder of a Warwick charity for children with terminal and life-threatening illnesses is appealing for donations following the cancellation of planned fundraising events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is estimated more than £50,000 in proceeds will be lost to the charity which has still vowed to continue its work behind the scenes granting wishes for when lockdown is over.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Molly Ollerenshaw
Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

Events wiped off on the charity’s calendar for the next three months include the Kenilworth Rugby Club Charity Lunch and Molly Olly Raceday at Warwick Race Races in March; an Easter egg collection for hospitalised children in April; a fundraising ball in Worcester in May, and a charity golf day in Wythall in June as well as lost proceeds from London Marathon runners on April 26th and Velo cyclists on June 21st.

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 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.

Having gained its charity status in 2012, the charity has so far helped more than 2,000 children from newborn 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.

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.

Rachel Ollerenshaw and Olly The Brave and one of the Olly the Brave series of books.

There are now three books in the series, all written and illustrated by local author Diane Maybey. The first two were Highly Commended by the British Medical Association at the 2017 Patient Information Awards, and the third instalment, published last year, helps children who struggle after treatment to return to a ‘normal’ life.

Part of more than £2m raised by the charity to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

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.

Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Like everyone, Molly Olly’s Wishes is feeling the effects of the isolation due to the Coronavirus. For us the key thing is being able to support children and their families who faced challenging circumstances before the outbreak due to a serious illness and are now extremely vulnerable.

“Many fundraising events have been cancelled that provide the Charity with much-needed funds at a time when additional help for these individuals would be welcomed and help to alleviate some of the emotional and financial stress.

“We continue to grant wishes although supply of some items has been more difficult and our usual Easter Egg donations to children across the region that has been supported by local companies has been unable to go ahead. They may seem small things but these gestures mean a lot, particularly at a time of great uncertainty.

“We are looking at increased ways to help. These are worrying times, we need to pull together, support the most vulnerable. If everyone reading this made a small donation if could make a big difference.”

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

Read Molly’s story here

Celebrating the Pride of Birmingham

Celebrating the Pride of Birmingham

THE mum behind a Warwick charity which has raised more than £2m for children with life-limiting and terminal illnesses, has been honoured with a Pride of Birmingham Special Recognition Award this week.

Molly Olly's Wishes
Rachel Ollerenshaw

Rachel Ollerenshaw, of Hatton Park, founded Molly Olly’s Wishes with husband Tim in 2011 a few months after their daughter Molly lost her battle with cancer, aged just eight.

And last night (Tuesday) she was among a line-up of unsung heroes from across the region who gathered for a star-studded ceremony, hosted by actress Kym Marsh, at Birmingham University’s Great Hall.

As well as being honoured with a Pride of Birmingham Award, all winners will go forward to the judging process for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges from a shortlist of nominations in several categories including Child or Teenager of Courage, Fundraiser of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Emergency Services and Outstanding Bravery Award.

Stuart Kettle, Pride of Birmingham
Stuart Kettle, from Warwick, preparing for his Bathtub Challenge last year.

Among those also being recognised was 52-year-old Warwick man Stuart Kettle who has raised more than £50,000 for Macmillan Cancer Care since 2006.

Nicknamed The Mad Fool, his crazy stunts for the charity include pushing a sprout up Mount Snowden with his nose, running seven marathons in seven days in a giant hamster wheel and, last year, cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats on a penny farthing.

Other recipients include a school boy who survived a Taliban attack on his school which killed his brother and 150 classmates, and a mum of four who, at the age of 70, continues to tackle criminals on the streets of Birmingham.

The Ollerenshaws first noticed signs of Molly’s illness while on a family day out just a few weeks off her fourth birthday.

A rare Wilms tumour was soon detected in her left kidney and she was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to begin a six-month course of chemotherapy before undergoing an operation to remove the kidney.

But, just 18 months later, the cancer had returned, this time on her bowel. More chemotherapy followed and the tumour was again removed.

Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

It was during this time that Molly joined the CLIC Sargent Youth Advisory Group to help improve the lives of children with cancer and, in 2010, narrated an Ardmann Studios short animated film designed as a guide for coping with radiotherapy. It is being widely used today in the UK and overseas to help improve the patient experience.

In May 2010 came the news the family had dreaded – the cancer had returned again to Molly’s liver. And, despite a further operation, a stem cell transplant and a further aggressive round of chemotherapy, another fourth tumour appeared in March 2011.

It was to be just two and a half precious months until Molly lost her brave battle and slipped away at the family home in Hatton Park on 15th June 2011, with mum and dad by her side.

Tim and Rachel had 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.

And it has come a long way in those eight years. In January Rachel and Tim celebrated hitting the £2 million fundraising milestone.

Pride of Birmingham, Molly Olly's Wishes
Molly pictured on her fourth birthday.

But one of the charity’s proudest achievements came in April last year with the funding of the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

“It is really important to Tim and I that the charity has a heart at the very centre of it.”

Of the award, Rachel Ollerenshaw, 48, said: “People often say how brave we are, and how they couldn’t do that, but in truth, when you are in that situation you have no choice. We all have to deal with whatever hand we are dealt. What can make the difference is the support network that you have around you.

“We consider ourselves to be very fortunate as we have a family and friends who have been incredible. Having spent the best part of five years in and out of Birmingham Children’s Hospital we realise that many families did not always have this support. We knew first-hand what a difference a little help could make, the importance of talking to others in a similar situation and the benefit of talking to all our children through what was happening, hence doing what we do as a charity.

“Since the start we have had volunteers who have helped week in week out and given so much to the charity and it is with their talents and their help that the charity has been able to help so many and raise so much. Our trustees, who play an important role ensuring the charity is managed efficiently and appropriately, are Kevin Walsh, Jon Bew, Paulette Copps and Gurmukh Hayre. They are the team that I go to for advice, who are always there when I need help and who get very little recognition on a day to day basis. But over the years they have helped us through any challenges we face and have a wealth of expertise.

Pride of Birmingham Awards 2018, held at Birmingham University.
Kym Marsh.
07/03/18

“The day to day running of the charity is helped by Jackie Evans. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be by my side. The everyday work is supported by our volunteers, Lainey Pugh, Sue Herbert, Tracey Rigby, Karen Daw, Amanda Silcock, Bev Jordan and Lottie Jay, who do everything including helping organise fundraising events, sending out Olly The Brave packs, helping with accounts, contacting families to grant wishes, standing with collection buckets . . .the list of tasks is endless and varied.”

Rachel added: “In addition to the regular volunteers there are others such as Liz Brown who was a massive help at the start, Dean Pugh who organises our annual golf day, and Ana Ward. They are all so dedicated and committed, loyal, caring and hardworking.

“It is really important to Tim and I that the charity has a heart at the very centre of it, that we never forget why we are here and who we are helping. This is personal and very real. Everyone who is a part of the team understands this and it is so much more than volunteering.

“They all go above and beyond, and no words can ever express our gratitude. We are truly all a team and it gives us all a great deal of satisfaction being able to help people through those dark days. This award is for them all.

“There are so many worthy causes and whilst in our world we have had to deal with such deeply tragic loss, we know there are people who have faced far tougher challenges with less support and have gone on to do great things, so we feel very humbled at this recognition .

“Thank you to everyone who has taken time to listen and be a part of our journey, however big or small. We just want to keep on helping.”

Pride of Birmingham, Paul Cole
Birmingham Mail editor Paul Cole.

The distinguished nine-strong judging panel included Saturday Kitchen host and chef Glynn Purnell and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and was chaired by Birmingham Mail editor Paul Cole.

Paul said: “Rachel’s charity was one of those on the shortlist that found favour with everyone on the panel. We liked the fact that it works on different levels – helping fund Magnolia House, making wishes come true, and we all fell in love with Olly the Brave!

“It’s so important that children are made to feel at ease when in hospital, and we reckoned that Olly really helps with that.

“As Rachel says, the focus of the charity is to offer help to children and families through the most challenging times they might face.

“We think she’s the Pride of Birmingham, and we’re sure Molly would be proud.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Having gained its charity status in 2012, Molly Olly’s Wishes has so far helped more than 8,000 children from newborn to age 18 with various forms of support, from granting wishes to distributing Olly The Brave packs which include a toy lion with his own Hickman line and a detachable mane that helps to explain and normalise the hair loss that comes with many types of chemotherapy. The packs have been handed out to 40 hospitals across the UK along with an Olly The Brave book.
  • There are now three books in the series, all written and illustrated by local author Diane Maybey.
  • 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.
  • For further information about the charity and to donate, visit: www.mollyolly.co.uk or visit: https://www.justgiving.com/mollyollyswishes