Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mum gets her RNLI Gold Badge

My mum has been raising money for the RNLI for almost as long as I can remember. For many years she was Treasurer of the local RNLI committee, before taking on the role of Chair this year. We were all delighted and immensely proud to learn a few months ago that she had been awarded the prestigious RNLI Gold Badge which she would receive at a ceremony at the Barbican.  Along with two of her colleagues, she received coverage in the local press for her well-deserved award.

The RNLI might not seem like an obvious interest for a seven year old living in landlocked Birmingham but, largely thanks to his Grandma's influence, J has a real interest in lifeboats and lifeguards. He is a member of Storm Force, the Lifeboat club for children, and waits eagerly for the next edition of the Storm Force magazine to arrive.  Our holidays to the coast are not complete without trips to visit the local lifeboat stations. During our last holiday we were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the all weather lifeboat in Fowey and J was so excited.

So what perfect timing that J's school was closed for polling day on 22 May 2014, the day of Grandma's presentation!

We squeezed in a bit of sightseeing
That day we were up early for our train to London so that we could fit in a bit of sightseeing before the awards ceremony.  This was J's first sightseeing trip to London and top of his list were Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. By chance, we timed it perfectly and even saw the changing of the guard.

After a quick bite to eat and a ride on the circle line it was time for the ceremony at the Barbican.

The stage is set and the Guest of Honour arrives
The ceremony kicked off with an inspiring film showing some of the many rescues carried out by the RNLI during 2013.  I couldn't help but be astounded by the bravery of the volunteer lifeboat crews. Some of the weather conditions shown in the film were atrocious. When most people would retreat indoors, the crews don their kits and head out in storms, gale force winds and terrifying waves. What a truly amazing and courageous bunch of people!

Before the presentation of the Gold Badges, there were five special awards: Innovation, Youth, Branch, Corporate and Media. The well-known artist, Tracey Emin, was presented with the Innovation Award for her collaboration with restaurateur, James Stephenson, which involved Tracey painting and auctioning a watercolour which raised £100,000 for the RNLI.

Tracey Emin receiving her Innovation Award

J likes to dress appropriately
My mum received her Gold Badge from the Guest of Honour, Torbay coxswain Mark Criddle, who received an RNLI medal for gallantry in 2008 following his leadership of a daring two-hour rescue of 8 crew members from a stricken cargo ship. The details of the rescue are breathtaking. The cargo ship was listing at a 45 degree angle and, in severe gale force 9 winds, the crew had to make over 50 attempts to get the lifeboat in a position alongside the cargo ship where the 8 crew members could be persuaded to jump from their ship to the lifeboat. Without the efforts of the lifeboat crew, all 8 cargo ship crew would have perished.

I can think of no better person to present mum's medal than a decorated RNLI hero. After all, that is what it is all about  - all the events mum has organised over the years, all the money she has raised with her committee - it has all been for one reason, to ensure that RNLI crews have the equipment and resources they need to save lives.

Well done mum! You thoroughly deserve your award and you have made us all very proud.

Mum's big moment 

Celebrity photo-bombing

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Susie's Big Brew - The Day Arrives

Getting ready for the Big Brew

Friday 16 May was the day of my "Big Brew" to raise money for Pregnancy Sickness Support, the charity of which I am a trustee.  This was the culmination of my Pregnancy Sickness Support Awareness Roadshow which I started way back in August as part of the charity's Nine Months Of Campaign.

In the week running up to my Big Brew, I spent most evenings in the kitchen baking.  I would have liked to involve the children (and I did feel a little guilty for not doing, knowing how much they love baking) but I just didn't manage to find time during the day when they were around. On the plus side, I discovered that the benefit of late night baking is that, with no greedy little ones around, I got to scrape the bowl out all by myself!

In total, I made more than 60 cupcakes as well as several lemon drizzle and chocolate and orange drizzle cakes. Now, I would certainly not describe myself as a "Mary Berry" - my culinary talents are generally brought out twice a year for the children's birthdays - but I actually quite enjoyed it. Unlike last year (when my show stopper went horribly wrong as the mixture leaked out of my spring loaded tins), there were no major dramas and I was pleased with the results.

Big Brew Number 1 - Pop in and Play

The first event of the day was a cake sale at my local playgroup, Pop in and Play.  I have blogged about Pop in and Play before as this was where I started my Pregnancy Sickness Awareness Roadshow all those months ago.

I had no idea how many cakes would appear, or even if people had heard the announcement the week before as the children impatiently waited for the Music Man to start his rendition of "Old MacDonald had a cow ... with a quack quack here ... etc." which always goes down a treat.

I was overwhelmed by the number of cakes people brought and the amount of effort that people had clearly put in to making some beautiful cakes.  Most of the cakes were home made and I was touched that all these busy mums had taken the time out of their day to make cakes to support a charity so close to my own heart.

Loadsa cakes!
Some were almost too pretty to eat
Not many left by the end
Big Brew Number 2

After Big Brew Number 1, it was a quick dash home to whiz round with the hoover and finish off a few other jobs before Big Brew Number 2 kicked off at my house the same afternoon.

I was blessed with sunny weather and delighted at how many of my wonderful friends and neighbours came along for a cuppa, some cake and a natter. It really was a lovely afternoon.

Counting up

I enlisted the services of a little accountant to assist with counting all the money - and a very good job he did too!

My trainee accountant

In total, I raised £237. Beforehand, I had said I would love to raise more than I did last year which was £140. I didn't expect to raise almost £100 more!

So I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported my Big Brew by coming along, baking or buying cakes and for helping to make the day a big success. I couldn't have done it without you!

Same time next year?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day

Tomorrow is International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day and the culmination of my Nine Months Of challenge to raise awareness and funds for Pregnancy Sickness Support.  When I embarked on my challenge, I planned to mark International HG Awareness Day by holding a coffee morning as I did last year. Little did I know that I would be joined by volunteers across the country who are also holding coffee mornings and tea parties to raise awareness and money for the charity. I am very proud that I was involved in launching the first ever "Big Brew - Getting together for Pregnancy Sickness Support" and I really hope that this will become a successful, annual event for the charity.

I have been very busy this week baking cakes and the next two days will be even busier. Tomorrow I will be taking cakes to work to sell, and also sending some with my husband (and I have more baking to do this evening!).  Then on Friday, I have not one but two Big Brew events. The first will be at the play group I usually attend where the lovely ladies have kindly agreed to run a cake sale for me, and the second will be at my house in the afternoon.  I am really looking forward to getting together with all my friends for a cuppa, some cake and a good old gossip.

Last year, I raised £140 at my coffee morning thanks to the very generous support of friends, family and neighbours. I would dearly love to top that figure this year.

So please, please consider donating.  The charity receives no external funding and relies entirely on donations to be able to provide essential support to sufferers and their families.  You can donate by clicking here. Thank you. 

Ready, steady, bake!

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