1. The Importance of being charitable...
'Celebrity fundraising'. No, it's not an idea for a new TV show, it's something we should embrace as a responsibility to society - or should we? I became aware of a charity called Norwood whilst at Richard Desmond's (the owner of the Express Group and former boss whilst at OK!TV) 60th birthday party and on the same occasion was invited to participate in a bike trek across Sri Lanka. Being a keen cyclist and a lover of an adventure it was an offer I couldn't refuse!
Norwood as an organisation, supports thousands of people with learning disabilities, as well as many children and families in need, for as long as they need it, often throughout their entire lives. So I took to my Twitter family to see if there was anyone kind enough to support the cause and my efforts to fundraise for them.
In just 24 hours, 104 individuals have helped me achieve a staggering £1051.00 after just two tweets. It may have helped that I offered to follow and tweet every single person who made a donation, (a promise I would quickly realise took me the best part of three hours every evening to find all of the people that didn't leave their Twitter address!) but one I have meticulously stuck to in order to show everyone that I appreciate every single contribution no matter how big or small.
Now what I found remarkable is how quickly people were willing to give up a slice of their hard-earned wages in order to support me. I have raised lots of money for charities in the past, usually from going on a TV show such as Channel 5's Impossible, which results in a cash prize for the charity. In this case, 15k being earned for Scope, but as I watched the donations flood in I felt a sense of responsibility.
If it is this 'easy' to generate over £1000 from Twitter in 24 hours, why am I not doing a charity event once a month? Being what many would consider a 'celebrity' does bring a list of privileges and advantages that can easily be taken for granted. Would we all feel more comfortable and accepting of our role models if they're seen to be compensating for those privileges by giving something back every so often?
Maybe if I did too many events and asked for 'help' on too many occasions I would quickly exhaust the patience and better virtues of many, but then if only 1% of my 318,000 followers donated £1 each, that would still raise £3180! There are worse ways to get on peoples nerves.
I've certainly enjoyed using my Twitter account for a greater good rather than promoting myself and equally so, enjoyed the feeling of pride in my collective following who have proven to be generous beyond expectation.
If you feel generous enough to sponsor please click on the link and be sure to leave your Twitter name so I can follow and thank you too!
2. Playing games with our kids that take us back in time
With computers, board games and Moshi monsters to contend with, it's rare these days that we would pull out a deck of cards to entertain our children. It had been ages since I had educated the kids on the unexpected fun they could enjoy whilst playing pontoon, and in bringing them to the next level last week by introducing them to 'chase the ace' and 'rummy' I also succeeded in taking myself for a trip down memory lane.
All of a sudden I Imagined myself sitting around the table in the conservatory at my nan's beautiful cottage in Berkshire feeling full of excitement at the prospect of an afternoon playing cards. All my mum's side of the family gathered at nan's on a Sunday and it was my joint favourite part of the day alongside traipsing round the car-boot with my grandad, usually hunting down as many comic book annuals as I could find.
The adults always held their cards and shuffled far neater than I ever managed to, yet on the odd occasion when I beat the adults as a child, there was no better feeling. As I came out of my daydream and back to the present time I wondered if the boys were enjoying beating me, they certainly got to grips with rummy quicker than I expected. Maybe I should teach them poker?! There's a lot of money being made from novices like me out there I'm told.
Great to do something that requires their full attention but also I find the maths element in 21's and the mental concentration they need to sit there for 20 minutes building a winning hand in rummy make this a wonderful way to pass time with your kids and you never know, you might bring back some happy memories of your own too!
Whilst the boys were engrossed in the game, Poppy tried to stay interested for long enough but decided to leave the card school - opting to play a tune on her Meowsic keyboard karaoke machine instead http://http://www.john-crane.co.uk/meowsic/. It's nice having such a busy house when she and Nicola are around, it obviously brings with it extra noise but when it is a little girl singing her heart out with her toy it's definitely a good type of extra noise!
Me having a cheeky go on the toy after Poppy was off for her bath!
3. Tough subjects on This Morning.
I've made lots of appearances in various roles on This Morning this year, competition shoots in Barbados, numerous Hub appearances and even a slot filling in on the 'soap box' (even though I don't watch any of them!). None of the above come anywhere close to the significance of my recent Friday sat on the famous sofa as a guest to discuss grief accompanied appropriately by the founder of the charity Grief Encounter who have been a magnificent support to my children the last few years.
The producers had lined up some callers strong enough to open up on their personal experiences live on air. The premise was simply that the caller would share their situation in order for Shelly Gilbert as expert and myself who has brought up my bereaved children on my own for the last four years to answer.
The feature looked simple on paper but the reality was that when I started talking about my children the emotion kicked in and a lump appeared in my throat. It was particularly challenging when one of the callers was actually saying she was terminal and was asking me how on earth she was going to break the news to her six-year-old son.
My response was that it had to be done in bite-size proportions so that the child could deal with the process when and as they needed to take the next step. It is important to tell the child in a way that it suitable to their age and level of understanding, but warned that to put this off until very late in the day would most likely cause the child to find the sudden disappearance completely shocking, as opposed to the slightly less devastating yet obviously still heartbreaking news that the day they were told is coming and expected to happen, has arrived.
Not an easy message to convey given the circumstances, or receive as the caller, but I felt satisfied afterwards that between Shelley and I, we had helped three people and maybe others viewing for whom the situation also represented, to make a logical step forward in their grief. After all, we all experience it at some point in our lives yet it's still such a taboo subject, almost as if we learn from society that we mustn't talk about death. I hope, alongside Grief Encounter I can help provide an accessible go-to for more people that need answers so we plan to work on developing a series of videos for the internet that will provide a trusted reference to support children and adults through difficult times.