Friday, 18 August 2017

Meeting Lauren Backler for bowel cancer fundraising book

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Lauren Backler has turned the devastation of losing her Mum to bowel cancer in 2015, into an amazing campaign to get the bowel cancer screening age in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reduced form 60 to 50. In Scotland the screening age is already at 50. She very kindly agreed to meet me in London this week to take part in the new book. In this photo she happily posed with the bowel cancer tie to help raise awareness, and I had a specific idea in mind of the photo I wanted to take for the book with Lauren, as we were able to use Buckingham Palace as the backdrop. It's one of those photos that I can't wait for everyone to see, as it came out just as I hoped it would.

The chapter will go into detail about Lauren's story, and how her campaign and petition have taken off in such a massive way, leading her to be featured across the national media, and even speaking at Westminster. If the screening age was to be reduced from 60 to 50, over 4,000 people could have their bowel cancer detected at a much earlier stage, giving them a much greater chance of survival. Lauren's mother would have been screened a number of times if this had been the case, and most likely still be here today. Unfortunately by the time she was diagnosed her condition was terminal, and she lived for just a few months. Lauren's online petition has, to date, got a staggering 279,803 signatures. It's ever so easy to do, and takes just a minute or two of your time, so please support the petition here.

I've met so many amazing people on my book writing adventures, and Lauren was another one of those, a true inspiration. She is a very kind, giving and generous person, but also with a steely determination to achieve a successful outcome to her campaign. Although the reasons why I come into contact with so many people for the book are based on a common loss and sadness due to bowel cancer, the wonderful thing is how new friendships are being made with some very special people.

It's approaching a year since my Mum lost her battle with with bowel cancer, after a 4 year brave and dignified battle. All proceeds raised from sales of this book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. 41,000 people are diagnosed each year with 16,000 losing their lives to it every year, making it the second highest cancer killer in the UK. If detected early is is very treatable in over 90% of cases, so raising awareness about it is so very important...

Please don't forget to sign Lauren's petiton!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Deborah James 1979 - 2017


Today is the funeral of Deborah James, who passed away on July 27th aged just 37. My thoughts today are very much with her family and friends. I know an awful lot of effort has been put into making today a very special send off, and celebration of her life.

I came into contact with Debs on social media in 2015 around the time that I published my last book, Lives & Times, which she kindly bought, and we stayed in regular contact. She was one of the first people to agree to be in this new fundraising book I am putting together for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. We met at the beginning of May at the Sixfields Leisure Park in Northampton. At that time Debs was still very positive, and determined to do everything she could to stay healthy, and live as long as possible in spite of an awful prognosis. She told me that when she was younger, she said she would live to be 100, and with her lovely infectious laugh she then said that it was still possible. In fact Deb's laugh was constant throughout, even during the bits where we chatted about the most difficult subjects relating to her illness. Although I only got to meet her once, that experience definitely left a mark on me, and I'm sorry that I didn't get the opportunity to know her a little better and see her again. She wrote a wonderful blog, My Joyful Gut!, which is well worth a read. She had set up her own business, which was raising awareness about cancer at the workplace, supporting businesses, cancer patients and their families affected by cancer. She was a quite special person, who will be missed by so many people.

Debs and I agreed that the chapter on her in the book should be written as of that moment in time of our meeting. I wanted her to see the chapter as it would appear in the finished book. I wrote it up and sent it to Debs, who thankfully was very pleased with it. I will not change it, apart from a few lines of explanation that I've added to the start of it. 

Bowel cancer is the most terrible disease. The second highest cancer killer in the UK, claiming 16,000 lives each year, and yet if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. So much more needs to be done in raising awareness about bowel cancer to reduce the numbers losing their lives, and the sadness and devastation caused to the families left behind. My Mum lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer in August 2016, and all proceeds from sales on the new book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Meeting Billy Ocean in Oxford


I met up with Billy Ocean at Oxford on his recent UK tour. He gave me a few minutes after the show to have a chat and photograph him for the new book. He was a lovely man, interested in what I was doing, and revealed a very interesting first song.


The concert was great, if not my usual kind of stuff 😆 However, to see him sing his classic hit 'Red Light Spells Danger' was worth the ticket price alone. I must have been the only person there wearing an Alarm t-shirt and a Frank Turner hoodie!

My Mum lost her four and half year battle with bowel cancer almost a year ago. All proceeds raised from sales of the forthcoming book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. As well as raising funds the book will hopefully help to raise awareness about this awful disease. Please check out my www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk website for all the items that I am selling to raise funds for the charity.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Photo Pass for Amy Macdonald


My heart sank when I saw that singer songwriter, Amy Macdonald, was playing my home town of Reading this November. Her date is on the fireworks weekend and I shall be looking after my dog, who comes first with all the loud noise that comes with it. However, she is also playing Guildford on the tour, which is not too far from home. I have bought a ticket for the show, and I've also been in touch with her management. Although a meeting with her is unlikely, they are going to try and organise a photo pass for the gig, and to find out about the first record that she bought. This will allow me to get a great shot of Amy performing, so it's another great addition to The Record, which is the fundraising book I am currently putting together to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK claiming 16,000 lives each year. However it is also one of the most treatable cancers if caught early with a 90% success rate. My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, and fought this awful illness hard for over 4 years before passing away in August, 2016, a week after her 80th birthday. As well as raising funds, the book will help raise awareness about bowel cancer, which is key to reducing the amount people who pass away each year.

Monday, 10 July 2017

South African Cricketing Broadcaster Natalie Germanos On Board The Record, A Fundraising Book For Bowel Cancer

Me and Natalie in Green Park

I am very happy to reveal that South African sports broadcaster, Natalie Germanos, will feature in The Record. Natalie has been in the UK this summer covering the Women's Cricket World Cup. When I saw that she would be working as part of the BBC Test Match Special team, I thought that she would be a great person to photograph for the new book, and she joins Mike Selvey, Daniel Norcross and George Dobell from the world of cricket already on board. We met up in London and Natalie was extremely kind with her time, and we chatted for about an hour in Green Park. It's going to be a great chapter in the forthcoming book.

My Mum passed way in August 2016 after fighting bowel cancer for over 4 years. All proceeds raised from sales of the book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. This book is the follow up to 2015's Lives & Times, which has raised over £3250 for the charity so far. As well as raising funds, the book will help to raise awareness about bowel cancer. It is the second highest cancer killer in the UK claiming 16,000 lives each year, but if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Bowel Cancer Survivor Dilek Ercos Features In New Bowel Cancer Charity Book


I met Dilek Ercos in London on one of the hottest nights in a very long time. Dilek is in remission from bowel cancer, and contacted me to see if she could help with the fundraising. The obvious thing was to see if she would be part of the book, to which she happily agreed. Dilek is another example of how bowel cancer can affect people at any age. Raising awareness about this is very important, as Dilek is yet another patient whose cancer was not spotted straight away. Dilek now lives her life very much in the moment, and without fear. It was really lovely meeting and chatting to her, and another great chapter for the forthcoming book.

My mother passed away at the end of August 2016 after fighting bowel cancer for four and a half years. All proceeds raised from sales of this new book will once again be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK - 16,000 lives are lost to it each year, but if detected early can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Freya North To Feature In Forthcoming Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book


For those who have read my last book, Lives & Times, you will know that I met and photographed author Freya North, before we both went to a Charlatans concert at The Roundhouse in 2015. Freya has sent me this great photo of her with Tim Burgess from The Charlatans at their recent gig at Rough Trade, to promote their new album in London. The very good news is that Freya has very kindly agreed to be in the new book, which I am calling The Record - in fact she has already revealed her first record to me, and it's a corker! Freya is an Ambassador of Beating Bowel Cancer and has been a great supporter of the charity and to me and my fundraising. So I will have to come up with a different photo idea for this book.

All proceeds raised from sales of The Record will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. My mother passed away in 2016 after fighting bowel cancer for over 4 years, and Freya lost a dear friend, Hannah Berry, to bowel cancer in 2013. The aim of the book is to also help raise awareness about this awful disease, which is the 2nd highest cancer killer in the UK - yet if detected early it is successfully treated in over 90% of cases.