Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Carrie Grant Supporting Lives & Times Bowel Cancer Charity Book

Carrie doing voice-over work for The One Show

Back in November 2014, I went to Soho to meet Carrie Grant when she was doing some voice-over work for BBC's The One Show. This was another first for me, and it was a fascinating experience watching how this work was done. Carrie was keen to support the book as she suffers from Crohn's disease, which is a potentially life-threatening bowel condition. People with Crohn's disease are a higher risk of getting bowel cancer, and the two conditions share many symptoms. Carrie has lived with Crohn's disease for more than 20 years and still suffers from excruciating stomach pains that can stop her eating for weeks. Read more about Carrie's life with Crohn's disease here

Carrie was very interested in the book, and my mother's battle with bowel cancer. Once we had finished the photography we went outside and were able to have a quick chat. Carrie gave me some useful tips in my quest for meeting celebrities for which I was grateful. This was especially helpful in me finally getting to meet Gabby Logan for the book.

Thanks to the amazing support of everyone so far, the Lives & Times book has raised over £3700 for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. My mother passed away in August 2016 after a four and a half year battle with bowel cancer. The initial operation to remove the tumour from her bowel was successful, but the cancer spread to her left lung, and then to her brain. She fought the cancer with great dignity and courage, and was able to continue doing the things she loved, including riding her beloved horse right until the last couple of months. 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. Raising awareness about this awful disease is key to helping to bring down the figure of 16,000 deaths each year in the UK. All proceeds are donated to the charity and the book is also helping to raise awareness about bowel cancer. 

Thanks again to Carrie for her support, and she also sent me this lovely photo of her with the book after it was published in 2015.

Carrie with her copy of the book


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Mike & Jules Peters Support Bowel Cancer Charity Book

Mike & Jules Peters at Abbey Road
During the summer Mike Peters, from The Alarm, and his wife Jules featured in the very moving BBC documentary, Mike & Jules: While We Still Have Time about their cancer battles. 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 that of 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 at Reading Hexagon in 2016
The Lives & Times book was published in November 2015, and it has raised over £3400 to date. I'd love to push that figure as high as possible before the follow up book, The Record, comes out in 2018/2019. My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, and the operation to remove the tumour from her bowel was a success, but unfortunately the cancer spread to her left lung. She underwent four further operations on her lungs over the next four years, and was doing really well. Sadly towards the end of 2015 the cancer spread to her brain, in fact her first seizure was on the day that Lives & Times was published, and although she had CyberKnife treatment her condition deteriorated with a massive seizure paralyzing her down one side and putting her in hospital from which she was not to recover. 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 so far 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.