Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016 in review (it was not all bad) and my hopes for 2017

My favourite photo of 2016 - Cornwall with Mum
It seems that the vast majority of people can't wait to say goodbye to 2016 and hope that 2017 brings more happy times. I have spent the last few months coming to terms with losing my mother to bowel cancer. With her diagnosis in 2012 began a four and a half year battle with this awful illness that sadly ended on August 29th when Mum peacefully passed away. Of course the event defines my year and it will not be a year that I look back on as one of my happiest.

However it was not all doom and gloom. The above photo of me with Mum was taken in Cornwall just a week or so before her health began to decline. This is how I remember Mum. A lovely warm and kind woman with a touch of eccentricity about her... 

So I thought I would take a brief pictorial look back on the good times I had in 2016...

My brother Noel's birthday on New Year's Day
My 50th birthday February 21st
Selling Lives & Times at Beating Bowel Cancer 2016 Patient Day
Henley Royal Regatta
The Lives & Times silk screen print by Adam Green has raised lots of funds for Beating Bowel Cancer
Celebrating Mum's 80th birthday shortly before she passed away
I try not to set myself too many new year resolutions. For 2017 I do have some hopes and aspirations. Top of my list is the health of Storm, one of the dogs in the Cornwall photo heading this blog post. Shortly before Christmas she was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and even at this early stage is proving herself to be a true cancer warrior. 

During 2017 I am continuing work on the next fundraising book for Beating Bowel Cancer. It is early days with three people photographed so far, which leaves around 50 or so more photos to do. I am not setting myself a strict timescale to complete the book as I want it to be the very best it can be. My gut feeling is it's more likely to be finished during 2018. 

I am still looking for another 15 or so celebrities to come on board and complete the line up. I have big decisions to make about work. Do I continue with the family business or try something new? Finally yet another year has passed with no sign of the future Mrs Darvell appearing, so it would be nice if 2017 saw some kind of romantic development. I think after what has happened during 2016 romance was always rather unlikely. Maybe now is the time for a new chapter to begin...

What 2016 has shown me in absolute abundance is the value of wonderful friendships. The support through all the difficult times has been amazing and I have probably made more new friendships and connections this year than I have ever done. Over £3000 has been raised for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity through sales of the book and print on my www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk website. The generosity of everyone continues to surprise me and is s very heartwarming. In a world where there is so much bad news you don't have to look too far to find an awful lot of goodness still in so many people.

So I wish everyone a very happy 2017 in advance and may as many of your hopes and dreams come true as is possible.

Please keep following this blog to see how the new book progresses.






Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Olympic Dressage Gold Medalist Carl Hester On Board New Book


When I get to meet Carl Hester next summer it will be a chapter in the book that will be tinged with a bit of sadness. This experience will be one of those that I will wish that Mum would have got to seen with her life long love of horses. Carl is someone, from the equestrian world that I have targeted specifically with Mum in mind as I wanted to have some horse representation the book. I am delighted that he has agreed to be in the new book. I already know the first record that he bought and it's a cracker!

They don't come much bigger than Carl. He was a member of the British team that won gold in the Team Dressage event at London 2012, and then followed that up with Silver at Rio 2016. The plan is to meet up next summer once he has finished his competitions.

Bowel cancer remains the second highest cancer killer in the UK with 16,000 people losing their lives each year. If detected early it is one of the most treatable cancers with a survival rate of over 90%. It has been associated with older people, but more and more young people are being diagnosed, which makes raising awareness about this awful disease so very important. All proceeds raised from the forthcoming book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Carl has had his own scare, so I will be very interested in finding out more about his experience.

During 2016 my current book, Lives & Times, and all the other items I am selling on my own www.bowelcancerfundraising.co.uk website have raised over £3000. 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Billy Ocean - Red Light Spells Danger


More fantastic news for the forthcoming bowel cancer fundraising book. The music legend that is Billy Ocean will feature in it. He had a string of hits during the 1970s and 1980s including my personal favourite, Red Light Spells Danger. At this stage I am not sure when the meeting might be, but hopefully sometime during 2017. He has a UK tour next year, so that could be a possibility. What I am really enjoying at the moment is the diverse range of musicians, and in fact people in general, who are now on board. I am still looking for another 25 people to be in it, which will make the grand total taking part to around 60.

All proceeds raised from sales of the book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. My current book on sale, Lives & Times, has so far raised over £3100 for the charity. This total includes sales of the amazing Lives & Times Screen Prints created by artist Adam Green.

Sadly my mother passed away in August following a 4 year battle with bowel cancer. It is the 2nd highest cancer killer in the UK with 16,000 people losing their lives to it each year. If detected early it is very treatable in over 90% of cases, so as well as raising money, it is equally as important to raise awareness about this horrible disease. Hopefully that is what the books I produce are doing...

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Meeting Up With Daniel Norcross From BBC Test Match Special


Yesterday I headed up to Tooting Bec to meet up with BBC cricket commentator, Daniel Norcross, from Test Match Special. I don't think in all the photos I have done over the two books so far that anyone has given me the amount of time that Daniel did. We were chatting away for two hours, and it was absolutely fascinating to find out how he came to work on the radio. It's a really interesting story and one that I will save for the new book of course 😉. 

We talked all things cricket and he was also very keen to hear about the book and Mum's battle with bowel cancer. The first record that he bought is interesting to say the least and as much as he wanted it to be something by The Stranglers, I'm afraid it is a little different from them.

It was a wonderful experience and Daniel couldn't have been more enthusiastic and helpful. He was happy to pose with the bowel cancer tie to help raise awareness about this awful disease. It's going to make for a great chapter in the book. All proceeds raised from sales of the forthcoming book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Frank Turner Meeting at Reading Hexagon


I met and photographed Frank Turner in Reading for the new bowel cancer fundraising book I am currently putting together. All proceeds raised from sales of the forthcoming book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. It turned into being a pretty amazing experience which will be told in full in the chapter in the book, As you can see in the above photo Frank was great fun and happy to do a photo wearing the charity's tie to help raise awareness about this awful illness. The reason why Frank agreed to meet me was after hearing about my Mum's 4 year battle with bowel cancer before she sadly passed away in August.


I met Frank in one of the rooms back stage at Reading Hexagon. I was told that I would have 5 minutes with him, so I knew I had to be ready with my camera and that every second would count with him. There was a itinerary sheet on the wall which showed just how busy a day he had. And I saw my name on it, which was a nice touch knowing that I was a very small part in his day.

Frank couldn't have been nicer. I made sure I got the name of his first record, which has an interesting story behind it. He was extremely nice and was happy to chat and do the photos. We crammed in quite a bit into the 5 minutes. When he found out that I didn't have a ticket for the sold out show he put me on the guest which was a very kind and generous gesture.


The gig was outstanding. I've got a couple of his albums and, through other fans of my favourite band, The Alarm, I have been really getting into his music this year. However this was my first experience of seeing him live. I knew it was going to be good, but seriously it would not be an understatement to say that this was one of the best gigs that I have been to. Quite brilliant!


I don't want to write too much here as I want to save plenty for the chapter in the book. I know that this kind of magical experience will produce the kind of chapter in the book that I am aiming for. It simply would not have happened without Frank's help. A true legend..