Happy New Year to all our supporters! We hope you all had a happy Christmas time and thank you to all those who thought of us and sent messages. Thank you to all those individuals and groups who kindly donated to LoveOliver in lieu of Christmas cards and gifts.
What's been happening lately?
October through December was possibly our busiest and most encouraging three months so far. So much awareness and fundraising was happening, so much support was coming in, so much practical support was going out to families, and in turn we were receiving more positive feedback than ever - all of which you will hear more about throughout this newsletter.
Lots of fab events have taken place - the annual quiz night at Glenwood High School in aid of LoveOliver, ambassador Jasmine and her friend Emma did a sponsored hitch-hike from Edinburgh to Paris within an impressive 24 hours, ambassador Leanne organised a fantastic Halloween Disco at Studio 8 in Glenrothes, Joseph inviting us along to have a stall at his 1st Birthday party, trustee Kate organised a popular Pramfest in South Queensferry, our bi-annual New to You Sale, annual festive fundraiser at Blacketyside Farm, new supporter Rhona held a coffee and craft morning in Bridge of Earn, and the lovely Bev take part in a sponsored firewalk dressed as Santa!
We had opportunities to share about the work of LoveOliver at Lochgelly High School, Erskine Church Burntisland Ladies’ Association and at Viewfield Baptist Church in Dunfermline. We enjoyed continuing involvement with The Kingdom Shopping Centre in Glenrothes, Matalan in Glenrothes and Marks and Spencer High Street Kirkcaldy as their current charity partner.
Fiona Griffith, one of our cyclists, made beautiful wooden Christmas decorations to sell which raised a fantastic £750 for LoveOliver, and the Caledonian Humanist Association and Camilla Training Aspects both donated £500 towards our Christmas Dinners project. Trinity Academy, Coaltown of Balgonie Primary School, St Thomas of Aquin’s High School, Clovenstone Primary School, Mountfleurie Primary School, Velux Glenrothes, Raytheon Glenrothes all also kindly raised money for LoveOliver over Christmas time. Pauline’s Little Cafe in Dunfermline raised awareness and funds throughout December by having staff wear the charity t-shirts, having a banner up and flyers and collection tub at the counter, and Gavin, Michelle and Jo-Anne raised an impressive £1000 to celebrate Jo-Anne becoming cancer free!
A few things we're proud of
Peter Grant MP has always been a great encouragement to us, and in October he took that to a whole new level by using his opportunity at Prime Minister’s Questions during Baby Loss Awareness Week, to commend the work of LoveOliver. This was a great honour for us, and we were also delighted that he chose to send LoveOliver Christmas cards. This year’s cards were designed by former Glenrothes High School pupil Jasmine Doyle who has been a huge support to her best friend Jade who has recently had her own battle with Leukaemia.
We were successful in a public vote to become The Spiral Weave’s Charity of the Year for 2019 - this is a lovely family restaurant in Kirkcaldy and we are really excited to be working with them
Our New to You Sale was held at the Kingdom Shopping Centre in Glenrothes for the first time, and we raised a record £4500! We also raised £1400 there over 4 days of having a pop up stall during December.
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…
The current PhD project funded by LoveOliver is aiming to find new treatment options for the rare childhood cancer Malignant Rhabdoid Tumour, as well as Medulloblastoma the most common childhood brain tumour. Malignant Rhabdoid Tumours are particularly life threatening and difficult to treat.
Current treatments like radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery may cure but are harsh and damaging in themselves and frequently lead to long term health problems which impact children for the rest of their life. We are looking for treatments that specifically target the genes we now know to be key in initiating and driving each cancer. We hope to be able to target these using existing or emerging drugs.
Our first LoveOliver PhD project conducted by Matthew Selby delivered a massive amount of data on these diseases and provided a blueprint for which genes are critical to the disease. Emma our current LoveOliver PhD student has picked up Matt’s data and sifted through it computationally to identify the absolutely top ranked genes and prime targets for therapy. In the meantime, she has been building and testing an exciting new version of the CRISPR technology (which Matt used to such great effect in his project).
Emma’s version is better because it can be used to switch genes ‘on’ and ‘off’, rather than deleting them altogether as Matt did. The new CRISPR works much more like a targeted drug would work and will be used on our top gene targets as a forerunner to pre-clinical drug trials of these novel gene targets. This is the stage Emma’s project is moving into now.
Further down the line this will include screening of different drugs to look at the effect they have on Rhabdoid Tumour and Medulloblastoma cells and to predict which drugs would be more effective in patients.
The Invaluable Practical Support we provide…
As word has been getting round about how amazing COOK meals are and how LoveOliver provides weekly orders of these for families staying at Edinburgh and Glasgow CLIC Villas, we have seen a fast increase in the number of families using the service. We have now had 28 families benefit from this hugely practical support, and we have received lots of positive feedback about it.
We were also delighted to be able to have provided 37 families with a luxury Christmas Dinner from COOK thanks to the many generous donations made towards this project. This took away the cost, time and stress involved in Christmas Dinner, and allowed these families to enjoy more much needed quality time together on a special day.
Jennifer and Sarah visited the brilliant new CCLASP drop in centre which is located across the road from the new Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital. We look forward to working with them in 2019 to keep a supply of COOK meals there for parents who are staying on the ward but who don’t have a room at the CLIC house.
We have provided 12 gift packs to children whose cancer has relapsed towards the end of the year, and these have all been very gratefully received. Quality digital thermometers continue to be given out to newly diagnosed families from LoveOliver, as well as a supermarket voucher at the start of treatment to help towards the additional costs of having a child with cancer.
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 112 grants since 1st April 2018, 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…
The start of the year is always a bit quieter which is good to be able to catch up on admin. However, we do already have a few events coming up including a Princess and Superhero Party in Edinburgh on 11th February, Silent Disco with Haud Yer Wheest at O’Connell’s on 15th February and a concert with Fife Ensemble at The Vine Conference Centre on 30th March.
We will also be doing ongoing fundraising at Matalan Glenrothes, the Kingdom Shopping Centre Glenrothes, the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and the Spiral Weave in Kirkcaldy. 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 it's your time, your money or your ideas you are giving, they will all make a difference!
If you are a CO-OP member and are able to choose LoveOliver as your charity - please do - we are delighted to be one of their nominated charities this year and all money raised will be very much appreciated.
If you are booking a holiday please consider allowing Elaine Aitken from Not Just Travel help you book the perfect package - for not extra cost to you and including a donation to LoveOliver, she can help you with all aspects of your trip.