Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Steve 'Smiley' Barnard, The Man Behind Smiley's Friends In The Afterglow, Features In Bowel Cancer Charity Book

This week I received this cracking CD in the post. Smiley's Friend In The Afterglow is the 5th album from drummer, and music producer Steve 'Smiley' Barnard. Among the many artists he has banged the drums for include Robbie Williams, Joe Strummer, The Mock Turtles, and From The Jam. He currently is drumming for Archive and The Alarm, and it is through my love of The Alarm that I have got know more about him.

The original plan was to do the book stuff with him at the 2017 Gathering in Llandudno, but we kept missing each other, so in the end I met Smiley at his recording studio in Fleet a few months later. At the time he was in the early stages of recording his album, which he was very excited about, as well being kept very busy with recording and touring commitments with The Alarm and Archive. We chatted for over an hour, and he couldn't have been nicer, and was a true gent. As you can see he was also a great sport donning the bowel cancer tie. The new charity book is still some way from completion, but with chapters like this one, I can assure you that it will be worth the wait.

The new album is quite brilliant, and his albums just seem to get better and better. The songs are superbly crafted, and have energy, passion, great melodies, and not surprisingly high production values. It's simply pure class, and is available from his Sunshine Corner Studios website ,and the CD is only a tenner.. He is also a little more old school, in that he is managing to release an album each year, which is a kind of throw-back to the bands we grew up listening to in late 1970s, where an album a year from them was more the norm. Times have certainly changed on that score... Hopefully album number 6 this time next year? 😉

I took the photo of Smiley and bassist Craig Adams when I joined them and the rest of The Alarm at the Abbey Road recording studios for The Scriptures project. To find out more about that amazing experience you will need to buy the Lives & Times book, my previous bowel cancer charity book, published in 2015.

My mother passed away after in August 2016 after a four year battle with bowel cancer, and all proceeds raised from the new book and everything else I do are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The photo of Mum was taken a few days before her bowel operation in September 2012. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, but if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. Increasing awareness about this awful disease is key to reducing the numbers being lost to it. Early diagnosis gives patients a really good chance of beating it, but these rates are still too low. All proceeds raised form sales of the forthcoming book will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer / Bowel Cancer UK, the UK's leading bowel cancer charity. There are lots of items currently for sale on my www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk website.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Jon & Jillian Maclaren-Odgers to Feature in Bowel Cancer Charity Book

This weekend I will be heading to Llandudno for the annual Gathering. The music of The Alarm takes centre stage for two nights. I say two nights, but some people will be making it into a 4 day event! It's one of the highlights of the year, and a time to enjoy the music and catching up with many friends.

So I am really happy to announce that, two friends, Jillian & Jon Maclaren-Odgers have agreed to be in the new book, and I will catch up with them for chat, and to do the photo over the weekend. I first met Jillian at Abbey Road studios in 2014, and I met Jon at last year's Gathering. Jon plays drums for The Men They Couldn't Hang. I bought the band's debut album, and have just pre-ordered their forthcoming record, so there is quite a gap in between! It should be a cracking chapter 😊

Jillian with her copy of Lives & Times

My Mum lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer in 2016. Although the operation to remove the tumour from her bowel in 2012 was successful, the cancer spread to her lungs and she underwent a further 4 operations. Finally the cancer spread to her brain, and she died peacefully with me, my brother, and sister at her bedside, at the nursing home where she spent the final weeks of her life. Bowel is the second highest cancer killer in the UK, but if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. Raising awareness is key, as is improving early detection rates. All proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to Bowel Cancer UK / Beating Cancer, who have recently merged to become the UK's leading bowel cancer charity.

The book is the follow up to 2015's Lives & Times, which has so far raised over £3500. This total also includes sales of art, mugs and the recently added "Stop Bowel Cancer" t-shirts. Please take a look, and all support is very deeply appreciated. www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Meeting Levellers Bassist Jeremy Cunningham

This week I had a fantastic experience meeting Jeremy Cunningham, bass player with The Levellers, at the band's studio in Brighton. I missed seeing the whole band rehearsing by one week, but what it did mean, was I got to spend an hour with Jeremy. He gave me a fascinating tour of the studio, and then I photographed him before chatting about the band for the chapter in the book. He couldn't have been nicer, and more supportive for what I am doing. The story doesn't quite end here though, as I will also be photographing the band from the photo pit at their Basingstoke gig in March. Like many fans I am eagerly waiting the March release of 'We The Collective', and have preordered the signed deluxe vinyl and CD package. 

The new book is progressing well, and is now over halfway towards completion. There is a possibility of it being ready by the end of the year, but as I am doing it myself there is no deadline, and it will be ready when it's done. The Record is being done in memory of my Mum, who passed away in 2016 after a 4 year battle with bowel cancer. All proceeds raised from sales of the book will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer  / Bowel Cancer UK. The book is the follow up to Lives & Times, published in 2015, which has raised over £3500 to date. I have my own fundraising website www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk which sells my books, t-shirts and art to raise funds for the charity. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK taking 16,000 lives each year. However, if caught early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. Much more work needs to be done in raising awareness about this awful disease, and improving early diagnosis to give patients the best chance of beating bowel cancer.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Rick Witter From Shed Seven Joins The Record

More good news for the book with the news that I have managed to get Rick Witter from Shed Seven on board. They are a band who I have always enjoyed listening to, and in 2017 they released their first studio album in well over a decade, the brilliant Instant Pleasures. Since reforming in 2007 they have toured regularly to a large and loyal following. Seeing the band live is on my "must do" list..

Rick is based in York, so it looks like I shall either be heading there or waiting until he is in London possibly. It will no doubt be a fascinating experience, meeting the man behind so many classic indie anthems from the 1990s, as well as one of the stand out albums of last year.

Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK. Each year 16,000 people lose their lives, but if caught early it is one of the more treatable cancers, with a survival rate of over 90%. Much more needs to be done in raising awareness, and improving detection rates at an early stage. My Mum died in 2016 following a four year battle with this awful illness. The bowel operation was successful in 2012, but the cancer spread to her lungs, and she had four further operations. Sadly it was when the cancer also spread to her brain that her condition deteriorated and she died a few days after celebrating her 80th birthday in August 2016.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Meeting Gold Medal Olympian Christine Ohuruogu For The Bowel Cancer Book

Last weekend I met 400m athlete Christine Ohuruogu, who won Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008, and silver at London in 2012. This meeting was quite a long time in the planning, as when Christine is not training, she is now doing a law degree. 

It was a seriously cold day at The Mile End Stadium in East London, but Christine has to train in all weathers. The degree has put paid to her winter training in the sunshine of The Caribbean this year, where she would spend some of our winter usually.

The chapter in the book will mention how the security guys were not going to allow me into the venue to begin with, and on a lighter side I don't think too many people will have been told off by an Olympic gold medal winner! Christine was brilliant fun, with a great sense of humour, and has a terrific first record! She also was very interested to find out a bit more about bowel cancer, and why I am doing this bought. I am very grateful for her support.

Doing a selfie with Christine also gave me the opportunity to wear  one of the "Stop Bowel Cancer" t-shirts which I have just started to sell for only £8 on my bowelcancerfundraising website. All proceeds raised from sales will be donated to Bowel Cancer UK / Beating Bowel Cancer, who have recently merged to form the UK's leading bowel cancer charity.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Chief Executive Deborah Alsina MBE On Board The New Book

There is much excitement in the bowel cancer charity world as 2018 begins with Beating Bowel Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK merging to become the UK's leading bowel cancer charity. This became reality on New Year's Day, so never one to miss out on an opportunity I immediately asked the Chief Executive, Deborah Alsina MBE, to be part of the new book, The Record, and the good news is she has  happily agreed. I've known Deborah on social media ever since I started fundraising in 2012. She was always incredibly kind and supportive throughout my mum's illness, and it will lovely to finally meet up. I have always admired her passion and work with Bowel Cancer UK, so I am looking forward to working with her too on my fundraising and raising awareness.

I am hoping the coming together of the two charities might open a few doors for me in terms of getting some more people on board the new book. More importantly the charity's mission is that by 2050 no-one will die from bowel cancer. The statement from charity reads, "As the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity, our purpose is clear: we are determined to save lives, improve the quality of life and support all those affected by bowel cancer in the UK. We are tremendously excited about the future and our pledge is bold, stretching and inspiring. Within ten years we will transform survival rates, from only one in every two people surviving bowel cancer over five years, to three out of four people surviving. There will be better treatment and care including information and support for every patient and screening will be optimal, leading to more cancers being detected early or prevented leading to fewer emergency presentations."

As 2017 drew to a close the fundraising total from my current publication, Lives & Times, has now passed £3450 so it's inching ever closer to the next milestone of £3500. It can be bought from my www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk website. All proceeds raised from everything I sell are donated to Bowel Cancer UK / Beating Bowel Cancer, whose new name will be unveiled later on this year. The new fundraising book is being written in memory of my mum who passed away in August 2016 after a 4 year battle with bowel cancer.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

2017 - The Story So Far

As we head towards the end of 2017, I thought it was an appropriate time to update everyone on the book's progress. A very busy and productive year has seen me go past the half-way stage in the creation of The Record, and opens up the possibility of having the book published towards the end of 2018, although if it has to go back into 2019 I will not be too worried. The important thing is to get it as good as possible, and not rush it.

On a personal note 2017 has been a year of change. The first part of the year was very busy sorting out Mum's house, and completing the sale. It was perhaps only once it completed at Easter that I really began to realise just how different life would be without the folks moving forward. Writing the book, and meeting so many wonderfully kind and generous people has proved to be a very cathartic experience, not to mention fascinating. I will be genuinely sorry when this part of fundraising comes to an end, as I don't think I can really stretch this idea to a third book once this one s finished... I must also mention the two dogs Storm and Prince. Storm passed away in the summer after a long battle with lymphoma, but came to many photo sessions. Prince who has a serious spinal condition, but still is enthusiastic to meet as many people as I am!

This new book will feature patients, and their families affected by bowel cancer. I met Gina Shergold who lost her husband Steve to bowel cancer aged just 33, Steve Clark who is approaching the five year mark with stage 4 bowel cancer, Lauren Backler who lost her mum to bowel cancer, and who is tirelessly campaigning to get the screening age reduced to 50 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I also met 'Bowel Babe' Deborah James, a stage 4 cancer patient who is like a tornado in her fight with bowel cancer, raising awareness, and huge amounts of money. Then there was another Deborah James, who I had got to know over a couple of years on social media, and we finally met up in May. Sadly she passed away in July aged just 37 years old, and she left a lasting impression on me and many others.

Being Taught Selfies by Deborah James 
Sport has played a big part in the book too, meeting with ex-professional footballers Kevin Sheedy and Eddie Gray. Kevin is a bowel cancer survivor. I met with 4 Olympic gold medallists: Anne Dickins, Jeanette Chippington, Carl Hester and Zac Purchase. I am soon to meet with Christine Ohuruogu in the new year.

I've already met with a very eclectic list of musicians: Frank Turner, John Coghlan, Steve Hackett, Steve Barnard, James Stevenson, Amy Macdonald, New Model Army, Skinny Lister, Hazel O'Connor and Billy Ocean. Plenty more planned for next year so watch this space.

Billy Ocean in Oxford
I kept up the tradition of cricket related people I bean in the last book, Lives & Times. I met with journalist George Dobell in Birmingham, and commentators Daniel Norcross and Natalie Germanos. I am still hoping to meet Ebony Rainford-Brent and Mike Selvey. 

The world of television, media and entertainment has been very fruitful with meetings with Victoria Derbyshire, Nicola Bryant, Bill Turnbull, Sean Fletcher, David Baddiel, Janet Ellis, and Colin MurrayI spent a brilliant day in South Yorkshire where I met writer and broadcaster Andrew White, followed by the brilliant poet Ian McMillan. There was also a trip to Glasgow to meet Laura Boyd from STV - Laura who has been living with leukaemia since 2009. The year ended with a wonderful meeting with Basil Brush in pantomine at Windsor.

Boom Boom!
So as 2018 approaches the journey continues. I have a big list of people I am hoping to meet up with including, Kim Wilde, Michelle Collins, Susan George, Dan Walker, Daf Wyn-Farr Jones, Frazer Hines, Steve Norman, The Levellers, Jona Lewie, Jay Aston, Jules Peters, Adam Green Kirsty Duffy, Terry Christian, Ed Bazelgette, Stacey Heale, Sian Lloyd, Matt Allwright, Richard & Sarah Haugh, Mark Flannigan, Mari Isdale, Jacquie Beltrao, Omid Djalili, Noel Darvell, Gareth Jones, Freya North, Gail Porter, Elizabeth Alker, David Grant, Nick Robinson, and Annabel Giles. I am also still on the lookout for more people.

A big thank you to everyone who has been involved so far, and for those who are upcoming in 2018. The recent news of Beating Bowel Cancer merging with Bowel Cancer UK, creating the UK's leading bowel cancer charity gives fresh impetus to everyone, and the hope that in the future no-one will die of bowel cancer. I will continue with my fundraising and helping to raise awareness.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year, and I hope 2018 is a good one for everyone.