Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Mike & Jules Peters Support Bowel Cancer Charity Book

Mike & Jules Peters at Abbey Road
Mike Peters, from The Alarm, and his wife Jules featured in the very moving documentary, Mike & Jules: While We Still Have Time about their cancer battles this week on BBC1. Mike has been fighting leukemia for 20 years and it was while the documentary, originally about a year in his life, was being filmed that Jules was diagnosed with breast cancer. The documentary follows Jules' journey through diagnosis to treatment. 

Back in 2014, I went to Abbey Road Recording Studios in London to be part of The Scriptures charity record, put together by Mike, for the Love Hope Strength Foundation. I got to play a bit of guitar and wrote a verse for the world's longest song. I'd contacted Jules about them taking part in the book, so during the day Jules sorted out a photo opportunity for me. Looking back on this photo today, it is so much more than a rock 'n roll couple. The happiness in their faces shines through, and for anyone who has seen the documentary, for all the horrible cancer stuff, their love for each other is plain to see. Inspiration can be an overused word, but in this instance it is very true indeed as they are a real inspiration to so many people.

Me and Mike with his copy of Live & Times
The Lives & Times book was published in November 2015, and it has raised over £3250 to date. I'd love to push that figure as high as possible before the follow up book comes out in 2018/2019. My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. The operation to remove the tumour from her bowel was a success, but unfortunately the cancer spread to her left lung. She underwent 4 operations on her lungs over the next few years, and was doing really well. Sadly at the end of 2015 the cancer spread to her brain, and although she had CyberKnife treatment her condition deteriorated, and she passed away on August 29th 2016, a week after her 80th birthday. All funds raised are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, and the book is also helping to raise awareness about this awful disease.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Book Cricket Fest

When I started putting together the Lives & Times book I set my sights on trying get Jonathan Agnew on board. If you get the book you will see that this turned into quite a mission, but in the end I managed to photographic him at Lord's which was fantastic. Considering we only had a few minutes together we managed to cram loads in, and that included a video message he kindly did for my cricket club, Knowl Hill, who had been bowled out for just 48 the previous week.

After that the cricket theme in the book went into overdrive. I was fortunate enough to be going to the first day of The Ashes series in Cardiff, so the night before I sent a message to David "Bumble" Lloyd on the off chance he might meet me, and to my surprise and delight he came through. I met him for a quick chat and photo during the morning session. Earlier I had been interviewed before the day's play started by Steve Harmison. I said to him that I would do the interview if I could photograph him for the book! Then finally to complete the hatrick that day I managed to get legendary West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding as he was leaving the ground at the end of the day. That could have gone badly wrong as you can read, but he was lovely.

At the end of the summer I tracked down Australian sports journalist and broadcaster Melinda Farrell, who was covering the cricket for ESPN Cricinfo. The original plan was to meet up at the Edgebaston test, but with the game being over early that fell through. We ending up meeting outside Bank tube station a month or so later in London. She was great fun and was the first person to record a video message for the book.

Last but not least I captured the broadcasting legend Henry Blofeld on his 2015 autumn tour with Peter Baxter. This was fascinating as they were performing at the Norden Arts Centre in Maidenhead, which is in the same road where my Mum lived. In spite of having made a gruelling journey from the north that day he was a great sport and we got a photo and video done before his performance.

So all in all it became a bit of a cricket fest for me, and it was brilliant fun meeting them all. The one person who eluded me was former England captain Michael Vaughan, but he is still on my radar for the new book.

The book has sofar raised £3250 for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. To see how you can order the book click here. My Mum passed away in August 2016 after a 4 year battle with bowel cancer.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Lives & Times Meets Matthew Wright From Channel 5

Back in the summer of 2014, unbelievably almost 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 £3250 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%.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Horace Panter Supporting Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Book

Horace Panter is well known for being the bass player in The Specials and as a respected artist. His wife Clare sent me this photo of Horace with his copy of the Lives & Times charity book for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. This is a brilliant photo, as more than just showing off my book, the picture in the background is especially interesting. It is a mash-up done by Horace of an original photo of The Specials taken by world renowned rock photographer Janette Beckman. There is a great before and after shot on Horace's website.

Horace was one of the first photos I did for the book back in 2014, and he has been supportive of the fundraising project ever since. In the book I got a unique insight into Horace's work as both a musician and artist. I got to see his collection of bass guitars and many of his pieces of art. In fact I was so inspired by our meeting that I treated myself to one of his pieces of work. Horace also very kindly donated on of his stunning silk screen prints of The Kiss, which raised £200 for Beating Bowel Cancer.

The book, plus the recent screen print inspired by the book, has now raised over £3250 for Beating Bowel Cancer, which is the second highest cancer killer in the UK, and yet one of the most treatable if caught early. To see all the ways you can buy the book and support the charity click here.

My Mum, the inspiration behind the book, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. She bravely fought it with courage and dignity for over 4 years with the cancer spreading to her lungs and finally her brain. Sadly she passed away on August 29th, 2016. The fundraising for Beating Bowel Cancer continues on my own website and I am doing a new fundraising book in Mum's memory.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Mike Peters of The Alarm Part of The Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book

Mike Peters hiding behind Lives & Times

In 1983 I had a little transistor radio in my bedroom and I would listen to the John Peel show on Radio One. It was on his show that I first heard The Stand by The Alarm, which was the song that has had the single most influence on my musical life. I went to my local record shop and ordered the 7" and 12" versions straightaway, and a few weeks later myself and three friends travelled up to the old Marquee Club in London to see what remains for me the best gig I have ever been to. These four men with their wild hair and acoustic guitars making a sound that you would have thought impossible. And so began a lifelong love of the music by The Alarm and all who sail in her. Thirty-three years later it is a strong as ever. Mike is pictured above with his copy of the book on The Stranglers Black & White tour where The Alarm are supporting.

I was delighted to meet and photograph all four original members of the band for the Lives & Times book. I was very grateful for the help that Mike's wife Jules gave me in setting up the photo. I was fortunate enough to be able to take the picture at the world famous Abbey Road recording studio. I was there to take part in the recording sessions of The Scriptures, a fundraising project to record the world's longest song. Not only did I pledge to write a verse for the song, but I also got to play guitar. To see how that went you will have to buy a copy of the book. 

The legendary Abbey Road Studios

Mike is currently in his own battle, fighting cancer for a third time. He is the co founder of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which is the world's leading rock and roll cancer foundation. Over 125,000 people have signed up to the international bone marrow registry, which over 2,000 potentially life saving matches found. To find out more about the charity click here. Towards the end of 2016 news also broke of Jules' own fight she is having with breast cancer, so the family has had more than its fair share of cancer 😔 Their positive attitude to fighting cancer is quite special.

My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, and underwent five major operations. Although the first operation to remove a section of her bowel was successful she had secondary cancer where the bowel cancer has spread to other parts of her body. Her left lung bore the brunt of this with four operations, the most recent one being in March when they took out the lower lob of her left lung. More bad news came just before Christmas 2015 when she had a seizure, and it was discovered the cancer has spread to her brain. She underwent treatment for that in January which successfully dealt with one of the two lesions. Unfortunately the other grew in size and caused Mum to have further seizures. The final seizure in May put her in hospital, pretty much paralysing her right side and severely affecting her speech. She remained positive and determined to go through whatever she had to beat the disease. However in July we found out that the cancer was terminal. Mum moved to a nursing home for palliative end of life care. She celebrated her 80th birthday on August 22nd, 2016, but by this time her health was failing and she peacefully passed away a week later on August 29th.

From my own point of view, apart from supporting Mum through all her treatment, everything she went through made me all the more determined to complete the book, and also to make it into something special, and that was as good as it could be, and that could raise as much money as possible for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. When Mum got her copy of the book it reduced her to tears... To date the book and the screen prints have raised just over £3250, and I am eternally grateful to everyone who has supported my fundraising efforts.

It was at Abbey Road where I got to meet and chat with Dave Spragg, a Love Hope Strength volunteer, and great friend of Mike and the rest of the current Alarm line-up. Sadly Dave passed away last year having lost his own long battle with bowel cancer. It really is such a horrible disease...

To see how you can order the book, which is available as an eBook, paperback and hardback, click here

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Live & Times Bowel Cancer Book With Melinda Farrell In The Press Box

A massive thanks to sports journalist and broadcaster Melinda Farrell for sending me the above photo of the Lives & Times bowel cancer fundraising book taken in the press box on the day 4 of the 3rd Test between England and Pakistan last August. It has to be one of the most impressive locations that the book has been photographed at so far. Melinda appears in the book as I met and photographed her in London during the 2015 cricket season. Melinda has been a great supporter of the book and we have remained in contact on social media. She had said that she would like to buy a copy of the book so the cricket in Birmingham was the perfect opportunity for me to get a copy of the book to her.

We met up outside the press centre during the lunch break. I also reunited Melinda with the Beating Bowel Cancer tie from the charity that the book supports, and she is one of the those who not only posed with the tie, but was able to tie it properly which she put down to a catholic school education! I can't thank Melinda enough for her continued support, and you can follow her work on ESPNCRICINFO. I think the reason for her huge smile was being photographed with Ian Bell in the background!

I have been supporting Beating Bowel Cancer since 2012, as it was then that my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Sadly she lost her long battle with this terrible illness on August 29th last year. Lives & Times has now raised over £3000 for Beating Bowel Cancer. All proceeds are donated to the charity so please support the book and the recent stunning screen print both of which are available to purchase from my website.

Roll forward to April 2017, and Melinda was back in the press box when I met George Dobell for the new fundraising book I am currently doing..

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls with the Lives & Times Book

I have just received this brilliant photo from Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls from The Wonder Stuff with their copy of the Lives & Times fundraising book. I'd met and photographed them for the book a couple of years ago at their acoustic gig at The Railway Inn in Winchester. They were really lovely, and I got to spend a few minutes with them shortly before they went on stage. I got some terrific photos, a couple of which I have used in the book. Miles thanked me for the kind words about them in the chapter on them, but you will have to buy the book and see exactly what I wrote for yourself 😊 I am now the proud owner of one of Erica's prints from her other job as an artist, and of Miles' book The Wonder Stuff Diaries '86-'89. Like so many people who so very kindly gave up their time to be photographed for the book, Miles & Erica were great sports and posed with the Beating Bowel Cancer tie for the Facebook group that I am part of which is helping to raise awareness about bowel cancer.

Sadly my mother, the inspiration for doing the book, passed away last August following her long and courageous four and a half year battle with bowel cancer. She made her 80th birthday on August 22nd and peacefully passed away a week later. Bowel cancer is the 2nd biggest cancer killer in the UK claiming 16,000 lives a year. However, if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of such cases. Please support this fundraising book as every sale counts both in raising money and raising awareness about bowel cancer.

To see how you can purchase the Lives & Times charity book, which includes the chapter on Miles & Erica click here. All the proceeds I raise are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity with over £3250 raised so far.