Monthly Archives

September 2011

Alexander’s Charity Ball 2012 #charitytuesday

Posted on 27th September 2011 in #charitytuesday/ Alexander's Charity Ball 2012/ FSID/ Tankersley Manor/ twins

I am really quite humbled and proud to run this incredibly moving #charitytuesday guest post. Please read and then RT and spread the word that amazing items are needed for the auction at the 2012 ball.

Let me introduce you to an incredibly brave lady called Nicola

Hi I’m Nicola 31 and a busy wife married to Ian and manic mother to 5 wonderful boys Thomas, Jack, Harrison, Alexander and Joseph.  Our lives were turned upside down and inside out when on the 9th February 2007 the unthinkable happened and our fourth born Alexander Robert was the victim of Cot Death.

Our story starts really on the 24th September 2005 when I gave birth to Twin Boys, Harrison and the youngest by 7 minutes, they told me I had time for a cuppa after Harrison but they lied… Alexander.  He was in a rush to meet us, so much so that he spent 4 days in the Special Care Baby Unit being tube fed as he was so ‘shocked’ by the birth.

8 days later we came home with our new tiny bundles and settled into a routine of feeding, changing and sleeping.  Life with twins was hard but aren’t all newborns?  As with all babies the pleasure and joy was overwhelming and I was immensely proud to walk anywhere with my double pushchair even though it did take me twice as long due to the admiring glances and chats with well meaning strangers, who incidentally all have a twin story.

As time went on our routines settled and our boys were amazingly chilled, I have to say that they did egg each other on in most things, with Alexander being the instigator in all things naughty, you know the usual stuff like hiding the sky card, stuffing things into the DVD player, pressing buttons etc etc.

Harrison is left (standing up), Alexander on the right 

Although the youngest of the two Alexander was the first to crawl about and climb the stairs showing Harrison that it was much more fun to be on the move and hide from Mummy when she wasn’t looking.  Mornings for us although busy were the greatest time, before the hustle and bustle of big brothers and parents getting involved they would stand in their cots and make each other giggle by bouncing down onto their bottoms, we could hear them through the baby monitor, these are the memories I treasure.

Friday 9th February was like every other morning I try and think whether there were any signs of impending doom but Ian had woken and got ready for work as normal, Harrison had been a little grizzly in the night so had ended up in with us and because Alexander’s sleep had been interrupted by him we decided to let him have a lie in!

For some time after his death I hated myself for getting on with our routine, getting a shower and getting dressed all the while my baby was lying lifeless in his cot all alone.

Opening the door of their room I immediately knew that something was wrong, there wasn’t the usual reaction from him when the door opened and from there I went into autopilot.  I scooped him out from the cot, rang an ambulance, ushered my other boys downstairs, rang Ian who was on his way to work and then rang my parents in law all whilst attempting to resuscitate my baby.

I tried to remain positive especially talking to Ian who had to make his way back up the M1 to come home, but my cheeky, full of beans little boy was gone and in my heart of hearts I knew there was nothing that could be done.

We were treated fantastically by the paramedics, doctors, nurses and police, I never once felt under suspicion even though there are routines and procedures to be carried out in the event of a sudden death.  This is all down to The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) since 2000 they have been running a campaign for improved responses when a baby dies to ensure a thorough investigation and that the needs of the family are met in a sensitive and appropriate manner.  I suppose this prevents miscarriages of justice as have happened previously.

Since Alexander’s death we have had a new addition – Joseph, who is an absolute livewire and has a lot of the cheeky traits from the brother he will never meet.  The work of the charity then held another dimension for us.  Having Joseph was not an easy decision and I am like a cat on a hot tin roof when any of my boys are asleep but I have measures in place to give me piece of mind like respiratory alarms and a better quality baby monitor that I can hear a pin drop with.

My support network is amazing and my friends and family are always there supporting me but I know also that if I needed them FSID provide a helpline and befrienders to talk to.  For me however the charity’s research into cot death and why it happens is amazing, so many babies have been saved by parents following their Safe Sleeping guidelines and I hope that one day they will find a reason why these babies die.

As well as the day to day life of bringing up our remaining boys we decided (when I say we I mean the ‘royal’ we) to fundraise for FSID in memory of Alexander, to give us a positive focus and keep him very much a part of the family.

We have organised a Mile in Memory every year since Alexander’s death and it’s such a great way to get together and remember not only your own child, but all those that have been affected by cot death. However, I felt that there is a lot of competition for sponsorship with lots of walks and runs being held and the money that was being pledged each year was less and less.  I hate to keep hounding people for their hard earned cash when times are hard so I needed to think of a ‘better’ way to get people to cough up.

I came up with the idea of holding a ball when talking to a friend who had done a similar thing a few years ago, I had no idea really where to start other than trying to find a venue …and so the letter writing and emails started.

I contacted lots of local hotels and out of all the letters I sent only one replied, but I believe that things happen for a reason and the hotel that agreed to help was the venue for our wedding 6 years previous and I knew it would be a blast.

The planning and organising of such a huge event is time consuming but if you are willing to share your experiences with people and companies, most are happy to help in any way they can.  There are a lot of no’s that come back which can be disheartening but when that yes happens there is no better sense of achievement.

I sent hundreds of emails and letters to local and national companies, I posted on Twitter and Facebook requesting raffle prizes and advertising the event, and the response from everyone was heartwarming.  I can’t thank everyone enough who donated something – from Manchester United for their Signed Football, Ruth Clemens (Great British Bake Off runner up) for her generous offer of hosting Afternoon Tea for 8, to bottles of wine from my husband’s work colleagues.

The night itself was 8 months in planning but it is a night I won’t forget in a hurry. The ball was held on the 11th February 2011, 2 days after Alexander’s 4th anniversary and I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to see 200 guests dressed up in their finery celebrating the life of my little boy.

Everything came together fantastically and I never dreamed it would be as big a success as it was raising over £10,000 for FSID through ticket sales, a raffle and auction plus various other small fundraisers as well.

As they were leaving the guests were already asking for seats at next year’s ball!

Alexander’s Charity Ball 2012 planning is now underway with Tankersley Manor , Barnsley agreeing to be our hosts once again on the 10th February.  I am aiming to raise much more this time around so early organisation is essential so the begging of raffle prizes has begun.

Fundrasing for FSID is the only thing I can now do for Alexander and if the money raised in his memory goes a little way to helping to stop cot death, finding a cause or giving another family like us the support they need to cope, then it is more than worth all the time and energy.

Visit their website

Visit their facebook page

Please take a look – is there some way in which you or your company could help them with the ball? 

I Love The Twitter #Spooks!

Posted on 23rd September 2011 in Dimitri/ MI5/ Spooks/ Twitter

I love watching Spooks and I love the #spooks on twitter, can’t believe this is the last series.

But who are they?

So far I have found:

The one and only @Dimitri_MI5 who is played by the very pretty Max Brown.

Rather spookily (no pun intended) a girl at work and I were discussing The Deep Fat Fryer episode at work yesterday and saying how much it traumatised us! So consider me scared witless to have been tweeted by @TheDeepFatFryer today asking to be added to the list! Eek. 



















I’m sure there are many more of them! In fact even Dimitri’s pants have their own account  @DimitrisCalvins 

If you like spooks and like twitter then these guys are well worth a follow, they interact, are entertaining and somehow seem to manage to keep up with information about the people they tweet!

I know, I know it’s not really Dimitri who tweets me. I do know, honest. I realise it must be a 17 year old student or a 68 year old woman (no offence to either!) who does the tweets, yet, just for a second when you read his flirty little tweets you can’t help but go all girly!

How Do YOU Choose A School?

Posted on 20th September 2011 in department for education/ ofsted/ secondary school

With the 31st October deadline for secondary school applications looming, and several recent conversations I have had with people who are moving house NOW in order to be in their desired catchment, I am wondering how people choose their school places.

• Do you just opt for the nearest school?

• Do you go by the Department for Education’s guide which shows the % of pupils at the end of KS4 achieving Level 2 including English and Maths? If so, what percentage do you consider acceptable or unacceptable?

• Do you let your child choose?

• Would you (or have you) move house to get into catchment?

• Do you go by the ofsted report – if so what makes a difference to you?

• If the school you had choosen had just announced that it was now an Academy would that affect your decision?

If you aren’t sure which catchment area you fall in, or your likelihood of being accepted, have you tried the Good Schools Guide interactive catchment finder? Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to find it. 

I would love to hear how and why you have chosen your secondary schools – maybe you had a reason for choosing which I’ve not even thought of!

Colchester Hospitals Charity – Santa Fun Run! #CharityTuesday

Posted on 20th September 2011 in #charitytuesday/ Colchester Hospitals Charity/ Santa Fun Run

Colchester Hospitals Charity
Santa Fun Run Sunday 11 December 2011
Castle Park, Colchester

Thanks CoffeeCurls for inviting Colchester Hospitals Charity to guest blog on Charity Tuesday about the Santa Fun Run 2011.

Santa’s Warm up in Castle Park

The Santa Fun Run raises money for Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, to buy extra things that are above and beyond the scope of the NHS and help to improve the hospitals for patients, staff and visitors. Last year the Santa Run attracted over 115 people to run round Castle Park dressed as Santa. This year we hope to attract even more people.

We also need people to help organise the event and to volunteer on the day. To help with marshalling, registering runners and laying out the course. If you can help we’d love to hear from you.

Ready for the OFF!

If you would like to get involved by helping organise the run or taking part please contact Caroline Bates on or tweet @cohoc_

Santa out in front!

Lots of Colchester people will spend some of the happiest or saddest days of their lives at Colchester General or Essex County Hospitals and Colchester Hospitals Charity (or CoHoC for short) works with the hospitals to try and make things that little bit better or easier for patients, their friends and families. By providing extra or better equipment that is above and beyond that which can be provided by the NHS alone the charity helps to improve the hospital environment and facilities. There are over 80 funds under the umbrella of CoHoC, representing all of our wards and departments, from the children’s wards through to Stroke Unit.

All require a little bit of extra help from time to time. Recently the Breast Surgery Unit has managed to raise over £100,000 to buy new equipment to enable quicker and more efficient breast screening.

Last December the Children’s Unit needed extra ‘vital signs’ observation monitors for the children’s services department at Colchester General Hospital. Lynda Pearce, Matron for Children’s Services at the hospital, explained: “Sick children need close observation and monitoring.’ The ‘vital signs’ monitors assist nursing and medical staff to do this and mean that children do not need to be transferred to other hospitals and can stay close to home. The Santa Fun Run raised sufficient money to purchase one of these monitors for the Children’s Unit.

This year we hope that the Santa Run will raise even more money to support Colchester’s hospitals.

Wot No Lollipop Lady?

Posted on 19th September 2011 in children/ colchester/ lollipop lady/ school crossing patrol


There is a vacancy for a school crossing patrol assistant in Colchester if anyone is interested in applying please click here for details…

I am genuinely saddened to have received a text from my youngest child’s school (in Colchester) today saying that as of tomorrow there will no longer be a school crossing patrol near the school.

This means that the children of the infants, juniors and 3 seniors schools will all potentially be attempting to cross a very busy road unaided.

Yes, I know that the little ones will be with parents but the year 6 (and upwards) children generally walk on their own. However I don’t feel that it is in any way appropriate for my year 6 son to be negotiating the traffic on his own so I will now have to adjust my working hours further to make sure that I can take him to and collect him from the school gate.

I won’t be the only parent who comes to this conclusion and for those of us who then have to dash off to work the only viable solution is to drive which will increase congestion near the schools and subsequently increase the risk to vulnerable pedestrians even further.

I am quite appalled that this has been deemed acceptable.

One Man, Two Guvnors – National Theatre Live

Posted on 16th September 2011 in Green Wing/ James Corden/ National Theatre Live/ odeon/ Oliver Chris/ One Man Two Guvnors

Last night I was lucky to be offered a last minute ticket to see One Man, Two Guvnors, a National Theatre Live production which was broadcast to several cinemas throughout the world!

If you haven’t been to any of the National Theatre Live productions I urge you to book now for the next one which is The Kitchen on October 6th. It is an incredible way to see live theatre – to me it feels like getting front row seats.

I can hand on heart say that last night’s performance of One Man, Two Guvnors was the funniest play I have ever seen. It had me in stitches, literally cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard or for so long.

James Corden absolutely astounded me, having never seen Gavin & Stacey all I knew was that he had a reputation of being funny and to be honest my expectations weren’t that high. But by god were they exceeded. James Corden was brilliant and his audience participation pieces were inspired.

Oliver Chris (who I lusted after somewhat during Green Wing) was sensational. His character and his portrayal of that character was nothing short of genius. I truly laughed so much that I cried. His lines and the delivery of them throughout was hilarious.

I loved all the characters, all the acting was superb, the humour was well timed and well observed.

It cost me £12.50 to see this at my local odeon and I offer up huge thanks to whoever had the inspired idea of bringing live theatre to the masses in this way.

A Happy Memory #TheGallery

Posted on 14th September 2011 in #thegallery/ grandparents

Not a memory of mine, these are (or were) my grandparents. I’m guessing it is sometime in the 1970’s. This is my favourite photo of them because they are quite obviously having fun in it.

As a child I remember them being quite strict, my grandfather especially, I wasn’t allowed to wear jeans or trousers, I wasn’t allowed to chew gum, I wasn’t allowed to drop my ‘aitches and I was quizzed about capital cities and dates of wars over dinner – which could be anything from browned mince to a buffet of caviar, whole salmon, onions in vinegars and mushrooms à la grecque!

So for me, coming across this photo was a little bit like finding a Pandora’s box, albeit one that I can no longer open as they have both long since passed. 

This is my entry for week 37 of The Gallery, see more entries or enter yourself by clicking on the badge on the right hand side of my blog. x


Two Minutes? #GuestPost #CharityTuesday

Posted on 13th September 2011 in #charitytuesday/ #guestpost/ LEPRA Health in Action/ leprosy

For #charitytuesday, please see below a Guest Post from Nicolette Dawson, Communications Officer, LEPRA Health in Action. Please note one of the images is quite graphic.


Two minutes? “NO! Surely not!”

What a lovely surprise to come in to a twitter request for a #CharityTuesday guest post from fellow Colchester girl @CoffeeCurls.

First thought for me of course, how do I make what we do relevant for CoffeeCurls readers? I cast my mind back to the first day I drove past the imposing red brick building that is now my workday home. I looked up at the sign as I passed thinking, “What does ‘LEPRA’ stand for? Surely not ‘leprosy’? In Colchester? What’s that all about?”

Now, two years later, when I talk about where I work I find people are often surprised to hear (as I was) that leprosy even still exists. Let alone that every two minutes, somewhere, someone, like teenager Seema is diagnosed with leprosy.

The question people tend to ask (once they have picked themselves off the floor and finished saying things like “NO! Surely not!” – in response to the two minute statistic) is, is it curable?

Leprosy has been curable since the 1980’s with drugs available free to governments through the World Health Organisation; if diagnosed early and treated properly, as in Seema’s case; leprosy should leave no lasting damage.

But still, in too many cases it has and continues to do so. Despite this, there are no major funding sources for preventing the transmission of the disease and the disability it causes. (That’s where you and I come in)

So what’s the issue?

So then they ask, “If the drugs are free why does leprosy continue to be such a problem?”

The answer? The fight against a disease like leprosy goes beyond the availability of a cure. A lack of specialist skills, referral services and laboratory testing facilities in endemic countries and fear of repercussions means that too many people don’ get the early diagnosis they need.

This means that despite it being curable leprosy is still leaving children and adults blind, visibly disfigured or unable to use their hands or feet. In addition to this millions of people have been left permanently disabled and require specialist services that may not be available.

LEPRA is committed to reducing the burden of leprosy. It costs around £21 for us to change the life of someone affected by leprosy. It is only with help from people like you that we can continue to prevent and reverse the needless damage it still causes to individual lives and livelihoods.

P.S. did you know that every two minutes someone is diagnosed with leprosy?

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