Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award
What a way to start the year! So happy to receive a Prime Minister’s Point of Light award today. Thank you so much Number 10, I am truly honoured. Happy New Year everyone!
HFMA Annual Conference and Awards
Just your regular Friday night hanging out with Eddie the Eagle! 🦅
I had the honour of giving the closing keynote at the HFMA Annual Conference and awards event in Durham this weekend.
Incredible people ensuring our life saving NHS is forever improving and changing people’s lives.
I love events like this as it gives me an opportunity to say thank you to the NHS for all they have and continue to do for me.
Awesome to also share speaking duties with this amazing guy! Inspiring tales of perseverance, determination and kindness. Love it!
I may just add ‘competing at the Olympics’ to my list now!;)
Thank you so much to all the people who shared or liked the last post about the 52 Lives School of Kindness.
We woke up to a crazy amount of emails from people requesting workshops.
I promise we reply to you all soon.
Today I attended the Houses of Parliament for the Anti-Bullying Alliance meeting. So many wonderful things are happening around the country.
Lots of great people from MP’s to secondary school children gave inspiring speeches and Children’s TV presenter Andy Day was also there.
Andy gave an inspiring speech about bullying and his work with Andy’s Odd Socks. An initiative he set up to let people know that it’s ok to be different.
Andy also introduced us all to an incredible young guy called Oscar. Oscar has a condition which inhibits the development of growth hormones. The result of which is that he is a smaller and less developed than the average 11 year old.
Worried about starting high school and the possibility of facing a barrage of questions, whispers and potential bullying, he decided to make a video explaining his condition.
This video went viral on the internet and he has now inspired people all over the world.
You can watch it here https://youtu.be/CPuSit1s0vc
When I had cancer as a 7 years old I was called names like cancer kid and made fun of for having no hair.
That name that would send me running home in tears.
Although this may have been perceived as juts harmless name calling, it went on to affect me for a long time afterwards.
I felt alone, different and also ashamed for having cancer.
Throughout high school I told very few people I had had cancer and would cover my scar with my arm when getting changed for PE.
The long lasting impact childhood bullying can have on a person should never be underestimated.
It took a long time for me to realise that it was ok to have had cancer.
It was only a lack of understanding from the other children that led to this type of bullying.
Seeing how Oscar explained his condition to his future school friends is incredibly inspiring and I know his story will inspire many others. I wished he had been around when I was 7!
I’ll stop banging on about this now but If you’d like keep up to date with everything we are up to you can follow the 52 Lives – School of KindnessFacebook page or track our progress via our Insta stories on instagram at 52 Lives and 101 Survive.
Much love and thanks gang.
World Kindness Day
Those that have heard my 101 talks will know that I’m very big on the part that kindness and support play in the healing process.
When I wrote my list of things I wanted to do I never expected I would get the most fulfilment and joy out of helping others.
Research has shown that giving, receiving and even just witnessing acts of kindness unleashes a whole host of natural chemicals that improve our mental and physical health.
These are just some of the health benefits of kindness:-
1. Makes us happier 😁
2. Gives us a healthier heart ❤️
3. Slows ageing 👵🏻
4. Increases the release of oxytocin also known as the Love Hormone 💖
5. Suppresses the release of cortisol also known as the stress hormone.
6. Helps us live longer.
It is an incredible thing and one that we all need in our life.
As some of you know I run the 52 Lives School of Kindness where I deliver kindness workshops to primary school children.
The aim of the workshop is to empower children to help them realise that their actions have the power to shape the world they live in. The children then work together to help a real child somewhere who is in need of some kindness.
The workshop is free for schools and great fun….even if I do say do myself!
This week is Anti-bullying Week and I’m on the road visiting schools in the south of England.
It is has never been more important for both children and adults to understand the impact that their thoughts and actions can have on their own physical and mental health, and that of others.
If you’d like to book a workshop please ask a teacher at your children’s school to drop us a message via the 52 Lives website. We are quite booked up but always try see as many schools as we can.
It’s completely FREE, it’s super fun and it involves children helping to change the world.
Ok gang, this is a pic of me having a chin wag with Princess Anne, about all things cancer, mental health and of course 101 Things To Do When You Survive!
When the President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons sent me this photo I have to admit that it made me chuckle! My arms are everywhere and I remember Princess Anne looked like I was about to karate chop her!
My family and I have been having a bit of a joke with this pic by adding captions of what they think I was saying to her.
Lots of quotes from films were used and they’ve had us in stitches.
I thought I would open it up to you guys and see if anyone had anything funnier.
So, the two funniest captions to go with this picture will win…..drum roll…….
– A signed copy of my beautiful fiancés best selling book – Kindness – the little thing that matters most.
– A 101 Things To Do When Survive T-Shirt or Hoodie.
Wowzers! What amazing prizes I hear you cry! 😉
So please write your captions below and Jaime and I will choose the two that tickle us the most.
Quotes and of course self penned captions allowed!
NOAH’S WHEELS HAVE ARRIVED
These have to be the best photos ever! This was Noah’s first outing in his new wheelchair and as you can see he looks like he’s in absolute heaven.
I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel for him to sit up and go outside after spending the majority of his life laying on his back. (See thank you from head nurse Katie in pics)
Thank you all so much for helping make this happen gang. You are amazing.
Thank you also to the wonderful supporters of 52 Lives and of course the incredible Katie Hill from the Butterfly Children’s Hospice who made all this possible.
I don’t thank them nearly enough as I should but I also want to say a special thank you to my beautiful parents, Alan and Phyllis. By the time I reached Asia on my world trip I had pretty much run out of money.
After Katie had got in touch with me after seeing my story, I made a promise that I would visit the Butterfly Hospices when I made it to Asia. Like other organisations I had physically visited or volunteered at I knew we (the 101 community) could help make some small difference to this wonderful charity and the children they care for.
My parents also wanted to help them and knew how much this visit would mean to myself and the charity so they gave me the money to fly over there and visit both hospices. I only spent a week in China but seeing the charity first hand helped introduce the wonderful work they do to all of you and of course Jaime at the life changing 52 Lives.
So thank you Mum and Dad for helping make this happen.
To date, the 52 lives and 101 communities have been able to help the butterflies buy specialist wheelchairs for three severely disabled children -Edmund, Matilda and now Noah. At over £3000 each they are not cheap. These beautiful children were abandoned by their parents and now thanks to the Butterfly Hospice and strangers all over the world, their lives have been filled with love and hope.
Thank you all so so much for helping make these wonderful things happen everyone. Whether you donated money or even just liked or shared the post, I guarantee you it all made the world of difference to these incredible children.
Much love and thanks to you all.
BEN NEVIS AND WILD CAMPING IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Ok gang, i’m very much hoping this will not only inspire overseas visitors to put Scotland on their list but also inspire a few fellow Brits to realise that a little bit of heaven is right on our door step.
Thing number 39 on my list was to climb the mighty Ben Nevis. Although not particularly recognised as one of the more epic mountains in the world this is still one hell of a hike and if you’re very lucky with the weather, the views of the highlands (i’ve been told) are absolutely breathtaking.
The best thing about this entire adventure was that I was sharing it with my big brother. We don’t often do things like this together so this was a rare treat and hopefully the start of many treats like this to come. The tragic events in both London and Manchester were again a reminder that life can be very short indeed.
We started our adventure at my brothers house in Maidenhead and with a quick lunch stop at my mum and Dad’s caravan which is just over the border near my home town of Annan, we arrived at Glen Nevis campsite in Fort William 12 hours later. This campsite was unbelievable. Extremely cheap, amazing facilities and for those who are not fans of tents, there were even little wooden ‘pods’ to sleep in.
Glen Nevis Campsite is right at the foot of Ben Nevis so the next morning we were up early and set off to conquer the highest mountain in Great Britain. The climb to the top is via a pretty well trodden and in some places a well constructed path, so there was very little danger in getting lost.
Within a couple of hours we were up in the clouds and sadly that was it for our view for the day.
We set off in our shorts which seemed like a great idea until we were almost at the top and encountered a whole load of snow and wind. After a little over 5 hours we reached the summit to be greeted by even more snow, rain, wind and a whole load of cloud.
If i’m honest I absolutely dread any uphill walking. My blood clots make it difficult for my blood to get from my legs to my heart and together with my lack of training it can often make things like this quite a slow and at times, painful process. But once you get to the top it is the most incredible feeling in the world.
When we reached the top I gave my brother the biggest hug and thanked him for being so patient. He is an incredible athlete and has climbed mountains such as Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc and Cotapaxi so this was a piece of cake for him but he was so patient and kept me going throughout.
It took a little over three hours to get down so the whole thing took about eight and half hours. I was totally knackered by the time we got back to the campsite but as we looked back my brother said “it always amazes me just how far your legs will carry you”. It’s so true.
Now this turned out to be the absolute highlight of the trip.
We woke the morning after Ben Nevis to clear blue skies and a forecast of sunshine and 26 degree heat.
What a contrast to the day before!
The Knoydart Peninsula is regarded as one of the most remote and beautiful Glens in Scotland and this was where big bro and I had the pleasure of spending a few days.
Located around 45 minutes from Fort William we parked the car at the end of the road at Glen Arkaid and hiked up into the valley for the next 6 hours until we found the perfect spot to pitch up our tent. This place is super boggy so suitable places to pitch a tent were few and far between but this was better than we ever imagined. Complete with a beautiful view and located right next to a stream, it was absolutely idyllic.
There are a number of Munros (mountains over 3000ft) to climb in this areas, with the most famous probably being Sgurr na Ciche. Sadly the day I tried to climb this my legs gave way and I just couldn’t get them going again. So I headed back down the mountain whilst my brother climbed to the top.
As you can see from the photos my brother took, the view was absolutely sensational. I would have been even more disappointed with not getting to the top had I not spent the day sitting in the stream and reading my book in the blazing sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced 28 degree heat in Scotland before but there it was. Just incredible!
The days rest did me good because the following day was another full on day’s hiking. The main rules when wild camping are to respect the environment and leave without a trace so we packed up our stuff and said goodbye to some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen.
We only met a handful of people during our time there so if you go on your own make sure you tell someone where you’re going as there is no phone signal up there.
I would definitely recommend attempting both the climb and trek when fit and well. After my legs gave way on the third day it was clear that I should have done a lot more hill training. My muscles really weren’t ready for continuous days uphill walking, especially with my pack on. I managed it but my legs have taken a long time to recover.
If you do visit then make sure you go fit and well, and be prepared to be blown away by the awe inspiring scenery.
Happy walking gang!
EXCELLENCE IN HEALTHCARE 2017
I recently had the immense honour of giving the closing lecture at the Excellence in Healthcare conference at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow.
I met some truly inspirational people, attended a fundraising ball at the magnificent Kelvingrove Museum and even got to tell Princess Anne all about 101 Things To Do When You Survive.
I always enjoy speaking at events and I particularly love it when I can speak to those directly involved in patient and health care. These guys after all, are one of the main reasons i’m here today.
My closing message to this group of leading healthcare scientists, doctors and surgeons was simple – Keep innovating but please don’t underestimate the impact you can also have on a human level.
My time with PTSD was a darker experience than both of my cancers. It got to a point where test results became almost secondary to having someone just tell me that how I was feeling was normal.
I firmly believe that support is an enormous part of the cure for cancer and mental health issues, and medical professionals are a huge part of that support network. I for one look up to them and listen to every word they say. A friendly face, a short engaged conversation or even a reassuring comment can go a long way in improving the wellbeing of a patient. If our mind is feeling good our immune system thrives … and then anything is possible.
Thank you to RCOPS for having me and for all the work you are doing to improve healthcare around the world.
KINDNESS – My girlfriend’s amazing new book
My amazing girlfriend has her first ever book coming out this September!!!
Her charity, 52 Lives has helped so many people over the past few years and this wonderful book is all about the very thing that makes that possible – Kindness.
I am so very proud of her.
Click here to preorder now – KINDNESS – The little thing that matters most
A SAD DAY TO START AN ADVENTURE
I went to be bed last night super excited about going on this weeks adventure but woke up to the news of the horrific and senseless attack in Manchester.
My big brother, Barry and I have just spent the past 12 hours driving up to the highlands of Scotland listening to the radio coverage and we’ve both felt a bit numb.
We sent our love to Manchester as we passed.
We arrived in Fort William, set up camp and tomorrow we’ll tick off thing number 39 – Climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain. We then set off for 4 days of wild camping in one of the remotest parts of the UK.
This is the first time we’ve done something like this together and after hearing of the families who lost their loved ones, I plan on appreciating every single second of this experience with my Brother more than ever.
Grab your loved ones, tell them that you love them and do the things you’ve always said you’d do together. Life really is so short.
Tomorrow’s climb is for the victims and their families.
Much love Manchester.