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October Newsletter

What's been happening lately? We have had an incredibly busy three months raising lots of funds and awareness in many different ways. We are blown away by the support received and are excited about the work it is enabling us to do. As always, we want to be doing as much as possible to help families facing childhood cancer, and we are also keen to start planning for new research projects. Every day in the UK, 11 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer, and that figure is not going to improve without research. Therefore, it is vital to raise as much money as possible towards finding gentler treatments, and ultimately, cures.

July was a quieter fundraising month as we tried to prioritise quality time with Oliver’s little brothers during the school holidays. However, we did make huge progress with two new practical support projects (more on these later) and took time to meet with the CLIC Social workers in Aberdeen to make sure we are supporting their families as best we can. July also saw us mark Oliver’s 8th birthday – there’s no getting round the fact that we miss him and long for him to be here with us, but how proud we are to be his parents and to see the impact his beautiful little life is having on so many.

One of Micah’s lovely school friends, Mia, had her long hair cut to donate to The Little Princess Trust and raised £247 for LoveOliver – we are very grateful to her and think her new hairdo is just gorgeous! Fab supporters Michelle and Chris stood in for us at the Silverburn Festival, raising funds and awareness while we were on holiday – it was great for us knowing we could rely on them to do a good job in our absence. We were also pleased to be the benefitting charity at an evening of folk music at Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh, performed by Corralach and the Glenbervie Folk Duo.

Gary Taylor raised an amazing total of £2114.40 by taking part in the Glasgow Kiltwalk and having the money he raised match funded by work and topped up by The Hunter Foundation.

August got off to a great start with our annual cycle event – always a great day, and supported once again by the brilliant Blacketyside Farm and outstanding O’Connell’s! Our cyclists all did really well on their 25, 60 and 75 mile routes, and some fab family fun was had at Blacketyside while we waited to cheer them in. Huge thank you also to Bouncers for donating a great bouncy castle for the day.

Inspirational Katie made front page news in the local paper fundraising with her swimming club and it was a huge privilege to have Katie, Archie, Jade and Conner join us for the launch of our partnership with the Kingdom Shopping Centre – LoveOliver has had the privilege of supporting and getting to know all these ward 2 children.

August also saw the first of our fundraising at M&S Kirkcaldy High Street, and our lovely ambassador Abigail raising awareness and funds at Liberty Community Church in Bellshill. Karen took on the Dundee Kilt Walk in August – like Gary it was in honour of the lovely one year old Lochie currently going through cancer treatment, and later in September Marie represented LoveOliver in the Edinburgh KiltWalk.

These are fantastic events which we would love more people to take part in next year. We enjoyed being back at the Craigtoun Park Charity Day for a third year – and although it rained heavily most of the day, it was still such good fun! At the end of August, Calum Auld raised over £1000 for LoveOliver and CALICO by taking part in Ride the North – these two charities were kindly chosen by his friend whose daughter is currently going through cancer treatment in Aberdeen.

September was an incredibly busy month so here is a quick rundown – you can find out more about everything we have been up to, and see lots more photos, by visiting our Facebook page

  • we set up our display unit at the Kingdom Shopping Centre, had our first brilliant Beer on the Boat event

  • a fab fundraiser with Cross Borders Brewing Company, Forth Boat Tours and all organised by our new Charity Champions Paul and Pamela

  • Grandpa Trev hitting the headlines after being chosen to represent Fife in the 2018 Great Scottish Run

  • Another great day at the Kirkcaldy Beach Highland Games

  • A group of youngsters from Edinburgh using their bank holiday Monday to support LoveOliver by doing a sponsored run/cycle/hooping event

  • Another great Disney Karaoke night at O’Connell’s

  • Fantastic day at the Jo Jingles Fife 10th birthday celebrations

  • Fab fashion show night at Matalan Glenrothes by staff and pupils from South Parks Primary School

  • Jennifer speaking to 5th years at Stewarts Melville College on four occasions about the work of and story behind LoveOliver

  • Oliver’s Auntie Joanna having a piece of music she has written in his memory premiered by the Lumen Choir

  • An amazing day fundraising at the Kingdom Shopping Centre

  • Three 10K runners and four half marathon runners taking part in the Great Scottish Run!

Throw in our merchandise/awareness stall at Matalan Glenrothes and Victoria Hospital a few times and a higher number of party favour orders than usual and it’s safe to say it was a hugely successful (and busy!) Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!

A few things we're proud of

  • In July the public voted LoveOliver as the new charity partner for the Kingdom Shopping Centre in Glenrothes for the next year. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to raise funds and awareness. Next time you are there check our display unit outside M&Co and The Works! We were delighted to raise an amazing £1876 on Saturday 29th September by selling surplus stock left behind by a shop that had closed down.

  • Staff at Marks and Spencer High Street Kirkcaldy voted LoveOliver to be their charity of the year, and we have already spent two days there bag packing, and with Andy on the exercise bike. Staff and customers were all so friendly and interested in the charity and we raised a fantastic £900!

  • A Facebook vote led us to be the chosen charity for the Voodoo Tattoo Club fundraising day on 4th August – they raised an incredible £2082.90!

  • We were nominated on Facebook to be the chosen charity for the Jo Jingles Fife’s 10th anniversary celebrations and really enjoyed going along on the day with our merchandise stall and toybola. Oliver’s little brothers had a great time partying with Julie, Jo and all the Fife jinglers! A brilliant £1153.60 was raised!

  • We were delighted to be awarded a grant of £2000 from the Greggs Foundation to help towards our practical support for families. We were told this is the maximum grant they give and that only a small number of applications were successful. We are grateful to Greggs for seeing the value in what we do, as many other funders won’t fund what they see as “short term support”.

  • It is always an honour to be asked to provide our personalised favours for weddings and parties and the last couple of months have seen many orders come in! Pin badges, sweetie cones and Granny B’s homemade tablet have all been very popular. Please get in touch if you are interested in any of these for your own party or wedding.

  • On 23rd September, 66 year old Granda Beard ran the Loch Ness Marathon in honour of his 4 year old grandson, Lewis, who is currently going through cancer treatment. What an incredible achievement, and what a privilege for LoveOliver to be the charity his family chose to support. He has raised over £2500 and we are really humbled by his support.

The Vital Research we fund

Our second PhD student, Emma, has recently finished the first year of the 4 year PhD studentship being fully funded by LoveOliver. Here is an update from Emma…

I am at the very end of the first year my PhD thanks to the help of my supervisors and the brain group here at Newcastle, and importantly the funding from LoveOliver, and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop new skills as I continue my project. I am continuing with my computer-based analysis of Malignant Rhabdoid Tumour. I am working hard to complete this very soon to identify the potential targets to be taken into the lab for validation and eventually developed for treatment targeting in Rhabdoid Tumours.

The analysis includes filtering from thousands of genes those that are the most important. In other words, those which drive the development or progression of Rhabdoid tumours and have the best potentially as clinically-relevant targets.

In the lab I am preparing to send our Medulloblastoma cells for further analysis to understand which genes are more switched on in Medulloblastoma than in healthy tissue and vice versa so we can begin to identify which genes may be good targets for new therapies. So far, the results I have generated in the lab look promising, and with a little more work I should have developed my skills with this technique enough to complete this analysis.

In addition, I am continuing to develop a new set of CRISPR tools, which I can use to artificially switch genes “on” or “off”. These will be an important part of my project that I will use to understand the changes we see when cells become cancerous.

One of my CRISPR tools is ready to use, and the additional two require some further work but I am hoping to test these tools out soon as it is a very new and exciting technology for me.

The Invaluable Practical Support we provide…

In addition to our supermarket vouchers, financial grants, therapy supplies and relapse gift packs, we have recently started two new projects which are proving to be much appreciated by parents.

Firstly, we were delighted to receive a generous donation of £2000 towards the first year’s costs of providing a quality digital thermometer for every family in Scotland with a child diagnosed with cancer. This potentially life saving piece of equipment is an essential item that families would otherwise need to source and purchase for themselves. Having secured a discount from Braun and managing to quickly match fund the £2000, we are delighted that we are now able to provide these thermometers which will be used many times daily during treatment and beyond.

We are also now providing healthy meals for parents through a new partnership with COOK. COOK make frozen meals which are homemade, healthy and delicious! Moreover, they are quick and easy to make.

Finding the time and energy to cook can be hard at the best of times, and we want to relieve this pressure for parents when their child is undergoing gruelling treatment in hospital. Parents often end up living off snacks, takeaways or by not eating meals at all when their child is in hospital so this new service is proving to be an enormous help and has been described as a “lifesaver” by many families. COOK have now had two tasting sessions in Edinburgh and two in Glasgow where families have been able to try some of the food on offer and find out more about the service LoveOliver is providing.

We are receiving an increasing number of grant requests from CLIC social workers in all three hospitals – whether it’s for going abroad for treatment, help towards paying bills or travel expenses, to allow families to make happy memories – there are so many additional costs for families facing childhood cancer, and we are pleased to be able to relieve some of this burden. We have already given out more than 70 grants since 1st April, which spurs us on even more to raise as much as we can, as we would hate to have to start turning down requests.

Things we’re looking forward to… It’s hard to imagine this year can get any busier but we are now approaching our busiest season and looking forward to all that it includes – please keep up to date with us on our Facebook page and here on our website.

Want to get involved? Here is how…..

Check out the “Get involved” section on our website! Whether its your time, your money or your ideas you are giving, they will all make a difference!

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