We hope this newsletter finds you all safe and well during this crazy time. We want to take this opportunity to tell you about 2020 so far, including how LoveOliver is dealing with the unexpected change of circumstances.
We had a very encouraging end to 2019 - thank you again to all those who helped make our Research Fundraising Dinner at Murrayfield such a success. The chance to run Santa’s Grotto at the Kingdom Centre in Glenrothes was a brilliant and very positive opportunity for the charity, and followed on nicely from our record breaking November New to You Sale. This combined with ongoing support from places such as Sainsbury’s Kirkcaldy, put us in a strong position for going into 2020.
January and February saw us give several presentations to various groups - we value each and every opportunity to share our story and the work of LoveOliver. Please get in touch if you would like us to come along to your group when it is possible to hold meetings again. We also enjoyed several events and cheque presentations at the start of the year, as well as continued success at stalls held by Granny B and Marilyn at the Victoria Hospital Kirkcaldy, Sainsbury’s Kirkcaldy and Matalan in Glenrothes.
The designer of our 2019 Christmas cards, young artist Megan Bett, very kindly painted an exclusive picture for LoveOliver - a gorgeous monkey holding balloons in the charity colours. You can buy your own copy at her website, www.meganbettartwork.co.uk, with 50% of sales being donated to LoveOliver.
We were delighted to see so many schools continue to participate in YPI Scotland, and are very proud of our groups at Braeview Academy and Queen Anne High School for securing the £3000 grants for LoveOliver. We are also very honoured to have had several fundraisers take place this year for LoveOliver, organised by families supported by the charity.
At the start of March, for the second year running, I was invited along to Glasgow Caledonian University to speak to 3rd and 4th Year Oncology and Radiography students. This is an invaluable opportunity to give them as much of an insight as possible about what life is like for a family facing childhood cancer, through sharing our own experience and stories of other families, as well as explaining the work of LoveOliver. I explained each of the services the charity provides to families, and why we are so passionate about each of them. Families face many different challenges on a childhood cancer journey, and the services we provide try to relieve some of that burden and make life a little easier for them. Hopefully it will help the students in their future careers to be able to appreciate the difficult background their patients are coming from. We have also been encouraged to see the students be inspired to support LoveOliver in response to what they heard.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of all our talks, events and stalls for the foreseeable future! Knowing that childhood cancer has no intention of stopping at this time, and indeed life being even more difficult for families facing it, we knew we had to start thinking out of the box and doing what we could online to keep LoveOliver going. This has involved selling sweetie cones and colour in cards online, as well as having a very impromptu but successful online New to You sale in the days before lockdown started.
We have twice used our daily exercise time to take our Olaf and Minion mascots on walks to bring smiles to our neighbourhood, and a reporter on the next street kindly made it possible for it to feature in the local papers! We had many chocolate bars which had been donated to the charity for use at events, and which would now have gone to waste - we put these in tubs on our driveway with a collection can beside them, and our neighbours have been very generous in how much they have paid for their chocolate purchases! We also managed to put together a fun-raising video of our supporters and LoveOliver families dancing to the Disney tune “All in this Together”, as well as having a virtual Easter Egg Hunt!
Our amazing friends at Megan’s Journey have very kindly donated £2000 during April to help us continue our vital services during this time. We have used some of this money to buy Just Eat vouchers for parents during their child’s inpatient stays. At the moment this is the best and easiest option for them to be given meals. With shops closed and increased restrictions both inside and outside of the hospital, life is even more difficult than normal for oncology families.
Once they know they are being discharged from hospital, we are offering families the chance to collect a COOK order on their way home so they don’t have to think about shopping for and cooking meals straight away. We continue to provide COOK meals for families staying in CLIC or Calum’s Cabin accommodation, and also to any families who live within COOK delivery zones. We really appreciate COOK’s support at this time - they are inundated with orders but continue to prioritise LoveOliver orders and get them delivered as soon as possible. We have also been posting out boxes of vital digital thermometers to hospitals, and writing financial grants for families in need.
The 2.6 Challenge, organised by the UK’s leading event organisers in place of events such as the London Marathon, has proved a great success for LoveOliver. With eight different individuals/families/groups taking part, 26th April was a hugely positive and encouraging day for the charity in terms of awareness and funds being raised. We loved the non stop flow of stories and photos being messaged to us, and it was a delight to be able to share these inspirational acts of kindness on our Facebook page throughout the day. Over £5600 was raised with donations still coming in- an incredible amount, we are sure you will agree.
We are having to think and work hard to keep raising awareness and funds during this time, and we don’t know how long it will be before more normal business will resume. We have however been really blown away by the support LoveOliver has received since lockdown started, and we cannot thank our supporters enough for this. You can help us by following us on Facebook - like and share our posts, get involved in whatever crazy ideas we come up with next, and as Oliver’s 10th birthday approaches on 10th July, perhaps you could find your own way to get involved in our 10 in 2020 campaign. We have asked supporters to raise awareness and funds on the theme of 10 in 20.
Before LoveOliver began, when sitting doodling and trying to come up with a suitable logo for his legacy, we had no idea how significant LoveOliver would become for so many.
Looking at the letters in the name Oliver, “love” really stood out, and seemed such an appropriate name for his legacy - LoveOliver - with love for and from Oliver. There are other words in there too. “Live” is obvious too - and his memory and legacy are living on, nearly ten years later. What a significant name for our gorgeous boy.
What is also significant is the word that is spelled backwards - “evil”. Significant because it is exactly that - spelled backwards. ‘Oliver’, ‘love’ and ‘live’ are always going to overcome ‘evil’, despite the fact that it is there. The evil is always there - no amount of good can take away from what has happened, the lifelong pain, loss and grief…..but the love and life help bring light and hope from the darkness, and the darkness can never take that away.
This is so true for the childhood cancer world we are so very much part of - such goodness and beauty is so often seen in the midst of such pain and sadness. And it is also true for the crazy times our country and our world are going through just now - challenging, hard, sad, scary and uncertain - some of these things will be lasting. Rainbows are being used as a sign of hope in many windows just now. Rainbows appearing don’t mean the storm never happened, nor will they take away from the pain caused - yet alongside these trials, every day, we see more and more examples of good from so many people, whether at home or out on the frontline.
This is what will bring light and hope from this storm. 2020 was meant to be every optician’s advertising dream with a play on perfect vision. In the cloud of what is going on, perhaps 2020 really is helping us all to see more clearly.
Please remember that going to give blood is classed as essential travel, and that DKMS and Anthony Nolan need as many on their bone marrow registers as possible - it is so easy to sign up.
Thank you for your continuing support
Love Jennifer and Andy