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Sometimes when I’m training for my upcoming Great North Run it isn’t just Jelly Babies that keep me going. Often when I feel tired I think of stories I’ve heard about the fantastic work done at Martin House Children’s Hospice, like this one – emotional stuff, but a great motivator.

 “My name is Jakki and I would like to share just a little part of my family’s story to show you just how important Martin House is. My baby grandson Thomas was born with a very rare life-limiting neuromuscular disorder and after a rollercoaster and heart breaking three months, mainly spent in hospital, my daughter Kirsty and her husband Tim knew they had very little time left with him. They were offered a room at Martin House and on Monday 27th February I left a very frightened and exhausted couple to settle in.

 I called in on the Tuesday morning to say hello to the little man and have a coffee with my daughter before I went to work. At Martin House they encourage the parents to sleep upstairs as they have nursing staff giving round the clock care to the children. My daughter had been sleeping on a camp bed in the hospital and this was her first night’s sleep for months.

 When I returned in the evening I was greeted with the wonderful sight of a huge smile on the faces of both Kirsty and Tim. They had had such a lovely day building memories. They had made photo frames and Christmas ornaments with Thomas’s fingerprints and also plaster casts of hand prints and footprints, but best of all was when Mary from Nuzzlets farm had brought in a four day old orphaned lamb. The lamb was placed in the cot with Thomas and he was able to stroke it; amazingly the lamb settled down and they both fell asleep together. The lamb was named Thomas in honour of that day.

 Sadly Thomas passed away the next day, but the help from Martin House didn’t end there. Thomas was taken to the Quiet Room (the lovely room at Martin House where children are laid to rest), which gave Kirsty and Tim the time they needed to come to terms with the loss of their son. They were given the emotional support and practical help they needed to organise the funeral. This help was extended to the whole family, and as grandparents we were helped in any way possible too. I cannot praise the work Martin House does highly enough, and I hope I have given you all just a tiny glimpse of how it can help so many people in times of extreme stress.”

 Indeed you have Jakki, which is why I want to raise as much money for Martin House as I possibly can. If you’d like to make a donation to my Great North Run appeal – and even as little as £1 can help to make a difference – please visit my Just Giving page.

 Thanks for taking the time to read this xx

Bees. They come out in the summer, make honey and sometimes get in your way. Until recently that was probably as much as I’d thought about them. However, I’ve recently come to realise just how important they are. Apparently they’re in danger and we need to help them. But why?

Bee populations have declined dramatically worldwide over the last few years – faster in the UK than the rest of Europe, with an astonishing 80% of bee colonies already gone. Experts believe that the main cause is the increasing use of neo-nicotinoid (or neonic) pesticides. Neonics are actually 7,000 times more toxic than the infamous DDT, which was banned nearly thirty years ago! So why are we using them? These toxic nasties penetrate plants and kill the insects – like bees – that. You can read more about it here.

But does this really matter? Can we not just be glad that bees soon won’t be around to sting us any more? Well no. Bees play an essential role in our ecosystems, pollinating many of the plants we depend on – vital food crops as well as flowers and trees. In some parts of China crops are having to be pollinated by human hand because the bees are all gone! So what can we do to help them?

The Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely Campaign is lobbying Environment Minister Caroline Spelman to ban the use of neonic pesticides in the UK. If you care about the future of the planet please sign the petition. Who wants these horrible chemicals in the environment and on our food crops anyway? Not me for sure.

 

You can also help Neal’s Yard to help bees by buying our gorgeous new range of Bee Lovely products, which all contain sustainably-sourced organic honey. A 5% donation will be made from the sale of every product towards charities working to protect bees, such as the Friends of the Earth Bee Cause. You can find out more and buy them here. They really are good enough to eat!

There are lots of things you can do in your own garden to help encourage and protect bees – here’s a few ideas to get you started. If you need any help with this I know a man who can help you! So next time you see a bee bumbling around, please don’t swat it – it’s just doing its vital job.