Saturday, 9 December 2017

Steve 'Smiley' Barnard Features in Two Chapters of Bowel Cancer Charity Book

I am pretty sure that Steve 'Smiley' Barnard is the only person to feature in two chapters of Lives & Times, and he achieves this without actually having a chapter dedicated to himself. This has been been rectified for the next book, The Record, hopefully due out in 2018, as I went to meet him earlier this year at his Sunshine Recording Studios in Fleet. We chatted for over an hour, and he couldn't have been nicer, so I left with plenty of good stuff to write about.

When we met Smiley was in the early stages of recording his 5th solo album, Smiley's Friends In The Afterglow, which is scheduled for released early in 2018. His previous four albums have all be fantastic, and I am sure this will not disappoint. Why can't other artists take a leaf out of Smiley's book, and release an album every year, just like bands did in the good old days...

Smiley plays drums for The Alarm, and back in 2014 I went to Abbey Road to take part in The Scriptures project, which was the recording of the world's longest song. The full band took part in this session and apart from getting my photo of Mike Peters for the book I was able to get a few great photos including the above shot of the band doing a publicity shot with Andy Labrow. It was a fantastic day, and made for a fascinating chapter in the book.

I also got to take some photos of Smiley in action when he was drumming with From The Jam, when I was given a photo pass to photograph them at their gig at SUB89 in Reading in November 2014. I was able to spend the whole set in the pit, so I got the best seat in the house as well as blowing my ear drums!

The Lives & Times fundraising book along with the screen prints and mugs has now raised over £3400 for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The book can be bought from my own website. My Mum passed away in August 2016 after a four year brave and dignified battle fought with bowel cancer. As well as raising funds for the charity the book is helping to raise awareness about this awful disease. Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK, but if detected early it is one of the most treatable ones in over 90% of cases.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Special Offer from Bowel Cancer Fundraising

For a limited time only you can get this amazing bundle offer from the website. The bundle consists of the hardback edition of Lives & Times, the limited edition silk screen print, and a mystery print by Reigate artist Adam Green. The special price of £125 means you are getting the book, and the mystery print for free. This offer ends on January 6th, 2018.

All proceeds raised from sales are donated to Beating Bowel Cancer, and the fundraising efforts so far have raised over £3400. 

My mother passed away on August 29th, 2016 after a long battle with bowel cancer going back over four years. Bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the UK, with 16,000 people lost to it each year. However if detected early it can be successfully in over 90% of cases, so we need to do everything possible to improve awareness about this awful illness, and improve early diagnosis rates.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Lives & Times Meets Matthew Wright From Channel 5

Back in the summer of 2014, unbelievably over 3 years ago now, I met and photographed Matthew Wright for the Lives & Times book in London. Matthew is very passionate about bowel cancer having lost his own father to this awful disease, and he has been incredibly supportive of this project including writing a lovely foreword for the book. I got to see his vintage motorbikes, which are his pride and joy. We talked about his daytime show, The Wright Stuff, on Channel 5 and about his experience appearing on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. He was great fun to spend time with, and is just a really nice man!

My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. Back then her bowel was successfully operated on, and the section containing the cancer was removed, but in the fours that followed she suffered from cancerous nodules on her lungs, which is a secondary cancer from the bowel and underwent four further operations to have nodules removed. Latterly the cancer spread to her brain and she experienced a number of seizures as a result. The last one put her in hospital for almost six weeks leaving her virtually paralysed down her right side and badly affecting her speech. It was while she was there that we got the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. She moved to a nursing home under a NHS continuation of care package where she received wonderful care in her final weeks. Sadly she passed away on August 29th, 2016.

Since losing Mum I have continued with the fundraising for Beating Bowel Cancer. Lives & Times was published in November 2015. Absolutely every penny I receive in royalties is being donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The book and the limited edition Lives & Times silk screen prints have so far raised over £3400 for the charity. I am now putting together a new charity book which will be called The Record. I also do my best to help raise awareness about bowel cancer. It remains the 2nd highest cancer killer in the UK, and yet if caught early it is one of the most treatable with 5 year survival rates at over 90%.

During the summer I got to catch up with Matthew when he came to The Big Hug in London organised by the amazing Dafydd Wyn Farr-Jones to celebrate the lives of Ben Ashworth and Anne Carlin both sadly lost to bowel cancer in 2017.

Bowel Cancer Statistics

My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. The primary cancer in the bowel was successfully operated on, but unfortunately since then she has had secondary cancer on her left lung and then finally on the brain. Mum passed away on August 29th, 2016.

The idea behind me publishing the Lives & Times fundraising book was to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, and to raise awareness about bowel cancer. Here are the basic facts...
  • Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer – every half an hour someone dies of the disease 
  • Each year around 16,000 people die of bowel cancer In the UK around 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year 
  • Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK 
  • Around 110 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every day, that’s someone every 15 minutes 
  • Bowel cancer affects both men and women 
  • If diagnosed early, more than 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully 
  • Five year survival rates for bowel cancer have doubled over the last 40 years
  • The majority (95%) of bowel cancer cases occur in people over 50, but it can affect anyone of any age 
  • Your lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer is 1 in 16. For men it’s 1 in 14 and for women 1 in 19
ALL proceeds raised from sales of the book are donated to the charity. To see how you can buy the book click here.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Bittersweet 2 Year Anniversary

Mum on Shimara with Granddaughter Anna
Today is a bittersweet anniversary. On this day in 2015 I published the Lives & Times fundraising book. It was also the very same day that Mum had her first brain seizure, and what proved to be the final turning point in her bowel cancer illness that had begun back in 2012.

The book had proved to be an amazing journey for me over the 18 months it took me to put it together. It was one memorable experience after another meeting so many fascinating people, and the help, support, and enthusiasm of those who took park will stay with me forever. I had taken as much time as required to make sure it was 100% ready, and as good as it could possibly be. I just had to decide the publication date, and eventually decided on November 27th. We knew that Mum required another lung operation at beginning of 2016, and I kept changing the chapter on Mum as things changed. In the end towards the end of October I decided that I couldn't keep changing things and the book would be presented as how Mum's health was there and then, which was absolutely the right way.

I won't deny that the build up to publication was exciting. How well would it sell, and would people like it? I was taking pre-orders, and was happy to let people who paid have their copies a few days early. I gave my brother his copy, and Mum got to see this before I had a chance to give her copy to her. It reduced her to tears - I think the only time in my life that I did this... 

Then came publication day... During the early hours of November 27th my brother called me to say that Mum had been taken to hospital, and from that moment everything changed. The excitement and anticipation about the book vanished in an instant, as all thoughts turned to Mum. She was in hospital for over a week, and the bad news was that she had two cancerous tumours on her brain which were secondary cancers from the bowel cancer. She would go on to have treatment for these in the new year. The swelling on her brain, and the pressure that was causing the seizures was managed by the use of steroids. Sadly over the following months her health slowly deteriorated, and one of the tumours did not respond to the CyberKnife treatment. The final massive seizure at the beginning of June left in hospital, and virtually paralysed down one side. Her condition became terminal and she was moved to a nursing home in Maidenhead where she spent her last few weeks. Sadly Mum passed away on August 29th, 2016. 

Over the last two years the book has been an amazing success. Along with the screen prints, so generously donated and created by artist Adam Green, and the portrait photo sessions I am offering, the fundraising now stands at about £3400. The kindness and support from everyone who has bought the book has been wonderful. The new book, The Record, is taking shape, but I guess it is still a year or so from completion. In the meantime Lives & Times can be purchased from my website and other retailers

I find it very difficult to even begin to put into words my feelings about the loss of Mum, and my Dad in 2009 for that matter. How am I coping with bereavement? It is such a personal thing, and I think fairly well now, but I suppose the honest answer is I don't know. I know that that there is no right or wrong way, and that I try to look forwards, and remember the happy times when I do look back. One of my coping mechanisms is to blot things out, although as a result this makes it difficult for me to remember things. Those last few months with Mum were pretty tough, and have definitely left a sadness that can be hard to shift at times. I suppose you just put it away somewhere and learn to keep it there as much as possible. I have a somewhat illogical, and perhaps selfish feeling of regret. I wish my parents could have seen me happy and settled with a family. Those who know me well, also know all too well how difficult I have found it to meet someone. I am great at making friends, hopeless at getting a girlfriend. It was something that I would often talk to Mum about, and she assured me that it would happen one day. So I have carried a loneliness with me for a long time - way before Mum became ill. However I have a great life, and some amazing friends, so I shouldn't complain. I am working hard on these things, and hope that I am on the right road.

Bowel cancer has changed me massively. Losing a parent to it is heartbreaking, but getting to know and meet so many amazing people also affected by it has been one of the best things to ever have happened to me. It is a staggeringly warm, and giving community in the face of tremendous adversity. I only have to think of what others are facing, and I realize that my own demons are pretty minor really.

The fundraising will continue. So apologies in advance but I will keep pestering people and try to sell many more copies of my book, and raise money for Beating Bowel Cancer. I don't exactly know how many copies of the book have been sold so far, but it is in the hundreds. That means there is a potential market out there of literally millions of people. I do pretty everything in terms of the marketing, so if anyone out there wants to help, or give some fresh ideas on how to reach a wider audience with the book I'd be happy to listen.

Finally I must stress how important it is to keep raising awareness about bowel cancer. Too many people are being diagnosed at a later stage when the chances of long term survival are greatly reduced. If detected at an early stage, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. 16,000 people lose their lives to this awful illness each year making it the second highest cancer killer in the UK. There is a wealth of useful information on the Beating Bowel Cancer website.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book Meets Gabby Logan

One of the longest quests for the book was trying to meet Gabby Logan. I initially made contact with Gabby on Twitter, and she immediately agreed to be in the book. After months of near misses, cancellations and me nagging her agent, we finally did the photograph for the book in Reading of all places being where I live, where Gabby was supporting the Great British Tennis Weekend in 2015. I met up with her towards the end of her stint, so time was against me, but she kindly chatted for a few minutes and happily posed for photos including this one with the bowel cancer tie. The chapter includes the near miss story of going to do this photo at the BBC Match of the Day studios in Manchester. Gabby was absolutely lovely, and I really appreciate her support for the book.

My mother sadly lost her long and courageous four and half year battle with bowel cancer on August 29th 2016. She died peacefully with me, my brother and sister at her bedside. My fundraising continues, and the book is now dedicated to the memory of our wonderfully brave and courageous mum. Please support this fundraising book, which is available on my website, as every sale counts both in raising money and raising awareness about bowel cancer. All proceeds raised from sales are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Over £3250 has been raised so far.

Over the course of 18 months I met and photographed people from all walks of life to form the chapters of Lives & Times. Every single person taking part has given up their own time to do it and all funds raised go to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. As well as Gabby, others included are, Sir Steve Redgrave, Katherine Grainger, Jonathan Agnew, Nadine Dorries, Lorraine Kelly, Christopher Biggins, Matthew Wright, Freya North, Gail Porter, Alan Davies, Shaun Keaveny, Carrie Grant, Mike Read, Status Quo, The Stranglers, The Alarm, Clare Grogan and many others.

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Lives & Times Charity Book Makes The Ideal Christmas Gift

This Christmas why not treat someone to a copy of the Lives & Times fundraising book in support of the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The paperback, and hardback, are both available on my website for £7.99 & £23.99 respectively. ALL proceeds raised from sales are donated to the charity, and it really does make the perfect stocking filler.

The book is a heartwarming and uplifting read inspired by my own mother's bowel cancer journey. Sadly Mum passed away last year after her dignified, and courageous battle with bowel cancer. As well as raising funds for the charity the book is helping to raise awareness about this awful disease. Bowel cancer is the 2nd highest cancer killer in the UK, but is one of the most treatable if detected early with a 90% survival rate. If one person gets checked out, and successfully treated as a result of reading the book then that would be my perfect Christmas present.

Lives & Times features photographs of celebrities who came together to help beat bowel cancer. Included in the book are Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Katherine Grainger, Gabby Logan, Lorraine Kelly, Jonathan Agnew, Matthew Wright, Gail Porter, Alan Davies, Mike Read, Clare Grogan, Carrie Grant and many others. Each photo is accompanied by the anecdotal story behind the meeting. It was not just celebrities who supported the project and the book also features chapters on some amazing and fascinating everyday people. Everyone gave up their free time to take in the book. It took 18 months to complete, and contains over 100 photos and 44,000 words. To date the book, and other items on the website have raised over £3400.

Lives & Times Christmas Video

The book is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook formats, and can be purchased from and AMAZON. To see all the ways to buy the book click here.