Happy Saturday Everyone
I am pleased to let you know that Ball planning 2016 is well under-way and we hope to make an announcement very very soon in terms of dates and locations so get those pennies saved.
This is a post I have been putting off for while as it's really not all that nice to think about to be honest and we were trying to find a way to fix things ourselves.
At this years Alexander's Charity Ball we auctioned lots of fabulous items which included 2 signed sports shirts donated and sourced for us by some very generous people.
Sadly, both of these shirts went missing on the night of the ball and the bidders never received their prizes for which they had bid on very very generously.
One shirt we have managed to replace but, despite our best efforts we have been unable to replace the Signed England Football Shirt. Our bidder paid £1000 for this one and has waited very very patiently for it but we haven't been unable to get another.
This is where the power of the internet comes in...Can you help in anyway?
The shirt was the current White Shirt signed by the Team and the Manager and I would dearly love to get our supporter the shirt he paid for.
Please share our post across Twitter and Facebook or if you know anyone that might be able to help us out I'd love to hear from you.
It's horrible to think that after such a fantastic night last year someone has walked away with an item donated to Charity in good faith and I'm not sure how else to ask for help now.
Phew well this is a little overdue !!!
So the fundraising wheels are still turning and things are busy busy busy with life in general but we are inching ever closer to our target which is AMAZING and I'd like to say a massive Thank You to everyone who is plugging away for us.
This weekend I got a lovely surprise (I was prewarned but still it was lovely) to be included in The Independents 100 Happy List for 2015.
I was nominated by The Lullaby Trust and appeared in the list on Sunday. Recognition is not why I fundraise but I was immensely overwhelmed and humbled to be included for 2015 alongside some truly amazing people.
Congratulations Happy Listers
We are edging ever closer to the big ride Tower 2 Tower.
With 9 days thing are getting a bit tense in this house with training and overthinking about the weather.
On Friday 19th June a team of 'amateur' cyclists will set out from London Tower and cycle North to Blackpool Tower.
This is Alexander's Daddy's challenge and I have to say a massive Thanks to Lisa Preston and Stephen Crowther for doing all of the organising so he could concentrate on staying in the saddle!
From Sponsorship, Accomodation, Bike Checks and all that in between there isn't anything they haven't been able to organise (watch out I might recruit you for next years Ball) It has been a massive amount to organise but they are so very nearly there.
Thank You to all the sponsors of the T2T :
Veloswift Thanks to Steph and Dan for offering advice, support and their expertise for the challenge
Runners Centre have sponsored us by donating £100
Tibke Education have donated £50
The Edge Cycleworks have donated £100 for us to spend on bike parts
Armer Associates Ltd have donated £50
Lunar Ltd have donated £300 for fuel
Stephen Crowther Associates have purchased Cycling Jerseys for the riders
Hotel Eleven have donated free rooms at Blackpool
Travelodge have donated rooms in London and Blackpool
Morrisons have donated food and consumables
Leisure Lakes Cycle shop have donated bike consumables.
Please if you have the time next weekend go give the guys some much needed support. This has been organised by themselves no fanfares no celebrity just them and lots of help.
This is the route planned for the weekend http://ridewithgps.com/routes/8408251 and you can track the riders live here
To sponsor them you can make a donation to their JustGiving Page https://www.justgiving.com/towertotowercycleforalexander/
There is still lots planned in the diary so watch this space for more information
I'd like to introduce a friend of mine, someone I've known for nearly 10 years. We 'met' online in a forum for multiple parents, our boys are the same age born within a couple of weeks of each other.
The forum offered endless amounts of support, when you have a stupid question or frustration about bringing up multiples only another multiple parent can empathise with you.
It's testament to what a fabulous group of people they are that we are all still friends nearly a decade on and although our lives have changed and grown over the years we still chat and talk, albeit on a different platform and many of them attend the ball regularly when they can.
The support and love they offered us when Alexander died is indescribable, they allowed me to 'talk' and rant and scream when I needed to and many of them still do.
Thanks you Tamba and my Twins for bringing these mums (and dads) into our lives and a special Thanks for introducing me to Lisa Preston.
Lisa doesn't do anything by halves, everything she does she gives 110%, if ask her for something she will always go above and beyond. She makes it her mission to succeed spectacularly and I'm proud to know her.
Thank You to my very special lunatic for everything you have done so far and for everything I know is coming.
Driven by desire….
A desire to help, a desire to ease the pain, a desire to find answers. I could go on and those that know me say I usually do!
Everyone that follows Nicola & Ian’s journey will know that this year is a special year, the year that Alexander should have turned 10, something that Harrison his twin brother will now do without him. One cake instead of two, one pile of presents instead of two...
I have always supported Nicola, Ian and the boys in any way I can, from Running London Marathon to attending Alexander’s Charity Ball but this year called for something special, something a little crazy, even for me!
And so the Tower to Tower idea was formed and grew. I was going to get on a bike at London Tower and not stop until I reached Blackpool Tower. The traditional Tower to Tower cycle is London to Paris but I didn’t want to do that for several reasons, I like to be different and I wanted to keep it local and within the UK. After using my persuasive charm we now have another three victims Umm I mean volunteers to join me on the cycle adventure, So on the 19th June this year, Ian, Stephen, Matthew and I will don the lycra and start peddling from London to Blackpool…
However before we start this little adventure, me being me, decided to get a little practice in. Most people would go out at weekends or cycle to work, both of which I do but someone ( Ian Richardson, I’m blaming you!) planted this little seed in my head about doing a static cycle and before I knew it I was doing a 24 hour cycle in my local Asda foyer. Did I mention I’m a little crazy? Do you know what’s even crazier, I loved it. Yes that’s right, I sat on a bike for 24 hours and loved every second, well almost every second….but maybe not the last few hours!
I’m lucky, lucky that my friends are quite crazy too. Having a steady stream of them cycle with me throughout the 24 hours made it a whole lot easier. Thank you crazy friends J
So that’s event one ticked off the list and almost £5,000 closer that that £100,000 target.
Tower to Tower here we come…
I've got a couple of big pieces of news this week and I'm not even sure how to start if I'm honest.
I'll bank one bit of news for later this week it's no less important, in fact it's pretty exciting really but you'll have to wait!
So last week saw a lovely 2 days in London for Ian and I, we took a bit of time out for a wander around the Capital and saw Les Miserables which was AMAZING. We also stopped by to say Hi to everyone at The Lullaby Trust.
We returned home Thursday night and I found myself with a lovely day off work on Friday to catch up and that's when the postie delivered an unexpected letter.
A few years ago we were asked to give our permission for Alexander's slides and samples to be used in a research study funded by The Lullaby Trust into 'The prevalence of Long QT gene variants in SIDS'.
Although I have thought about the research we hadn't heard anything and I suppose we forgot about it assuming that if there was something to tell they would be in touch. What I hadn't realised is the time it takes to conduct such a study from gaining the families permission to collating results to contacting the families with any results, it's not a quick fix and certainly takes years to collate all the findings.
I didn't know that the study was near to any results so when we received a letter from Sheffield Teaching Hospital, where the study was conducted, it came completely out of the blue and knocked me for six.
The letter told us that the study revealed that Alexander did have the variant in his DNA and that this could be the reason for his death. I can't tell you how massive this news us for us. For 8 long years we've lived with not knowing and now we could have an answer. I cried all day, I was a mess, I can't quite believe that after all this time we might know what killed our precious little boy.
This just goes to show how important a role research plays for families like ours, that eventually there may be an answer, all we need is for someone to take the opportunity and go that extra mile.
The next step for us is found out more about Long QT and why Alexander has the variant. It could be that the changes just occurred in Alexander for the first time or the changes could be present in either Ian or me or both.
This could then extend to my other boys, if we know what it is we can take steps to prevent it happening again, if it's just a one off then we learn to grieve over again.
Long QT is very rare occurring in 1 person in every 2000 to read more here is a link to the NHS website NHS -LONG QT
I think I'm still in shock and know we are only at the beginning of our newest journey, as we move forward I hope to blog about it and the results.
Who knows why Alexander reacted the way he did to Long QT and why we had no indication anything was wrong but going forward this maybe something that Professor Neil Sebire can answer after his research project. He is looking for the XFactor in all these children, why when combined with other factors do they react so severely and leave all their families reeling. That's just a short explanation of what he's trying to achieve but believe me it's much more complicated than that!
Thank You all for being on this journey with us for 8 years, for all the money donated and raised for us over this time. This isn't going to stop, there are so many families who may never know unless we keep ploughing away. We are the lucky ones now we need to carry on and find out more.
Never really covers how I feel to be honest and there are a few to be said this week.
Did you see the total !!!
... I know I had to recount a few times to confirm it
I'm overwhelmed and still in awe at how fabulous this year's ball was.
The compliments and comments about how smooth, slick and professional the night was is a massive compliment to Kieron Armstrong and Giant Events Management, despite his busy schedule Kieron always puts his all into this for us.
I never dare set us a target for the night preferring just to enjoy what a fabulous night it is and the money raised is fantastic regardless but this year was important and by eck we smashed it out of the ball park Mr Armstrong !!!
Unbelievably with our other fundraisers this year plus the JustGiving Teams we are at the half way mark, I could never have dreamed we could have got to £50,000 and still have 7 months to go. I'm starting to believe we can do this !!!
I'm not sure who said Yorkshire Folk are tight but they most definitely aren't I have proof :-)
Someone kindly recorded my very nervous and Yorkshire sounding speech
Here are my Thank You's
Glamourpuss Wedddings for the table and chair decoration
Steel City Promotions for all the props and Casino
New Dock Hall and Royal Armouries International for a spectacular venue
All our Sponsors
Our Headline Sponsors Purflo
Stephen Crowther Associates
Bapp for Bolts
Thanks to all my friends and family who came to help set up for the day
A Special Thanks to a true star Miss Stephanie Hirst, for coming to our rescue with only 4 weeks to go and for doing an absolutely superb job. Thank You for making the night very special, being available for many selfies and for being the most down to earth approachable superstar DJ ever... We Chuffin Love Ya
Please go ahead and have a peek at the facebook page for pictures shared on the night and start saving for 2016 everyone
Give us a like whilst you are there
I've sat down a few times this week to write this but haven't felt up to it and avoided doing it by using other things as a distraction, mainly organising and finalising the ball!
Here we are again another year gone and another year of creating memories that don't include a very special member of the family.
The 9th of February seems like such an innocuous date, a non date really and to most it is but not in our house. It's a day I would ideally like to pass me by but then that would mean forgetting and I'm afraid that will never happen.
If I ask anyone if they can remember the events of the 9th February 2007 I'll bet they cannot remember, like any of us really but for me that will never be the case. It's the day I want to have never happened. I can tell you in chilling detail the timeline of that day, it's etched on my memory forever.
This time of year I try not to be any different, I don't want to be a misery sinking into a black mood whenever February dawns its head and I think to all intents and purposes I don't do too bad really. It's things that catch me when I least expect it.
Last week Ian and me had a rarity in that we had the telly to ourselves and finding that there was little watch, typically, I told him to tune into 24 Hours in A&E.
A programme I have watched numerous times without a hitch...not this time.
It started with a shot of an ambulance pulling up to A&E and a paramedic climbing out the back with a toddler in her arms and that was me gone. Nothing prepares you for the stark reminder and the heartache that all comes flooding back at a snapshot that reminds you so much of your own experience on the worst day of your life. The little floppy leg hanging over the arm of a paramedic, that's an image that's in my head forever but sadly for us our ending wasn't the happy one of the family on the programme.
It's silly to say not to watch programmes like this, as my amazing friend always says it's like a scab you can't not pick at. It's not because I want to hurt myself, I merely want to know I'm not the only one, to see what it feels like for others and to know how I feel and react isn't out of the norm. I'm not sure that makes any sense really!
We don't make a big deal of the 9th we let it pass quietly in our own way, I don't want the boys to be cautious of the date. We go for tea together, light a candle, enjoy family time. The worst thing? Choosing flowers!
I hate it, a task I loathe with a passion, not because I hate flowers but because I want to buy him new shoes, loads of Lego, a video game, football boots, anything but bloody flowers!
We do our bit to celebrate Alexander at The Ball that's his day, not the day he left us because that's too sad and well it hurts too much if I'm honest. What better way to celebrate a life short lived than by having a massive party?
So light a candle, say a prayer, take a minute please to think of a life short lived and the legacy of a bright as a button baby boy ripped from his family far too soon. My heart aches for the boys who will never grow up but I hope wherever he may be he is proud of what we have achieved in his name.
8 years gone in the blink of an eye
8 years without a hug or a kiss
8 years not knowing why
8 years and counting ...
The sadness is unbearable
Alexander Robert Richardson
24/09/05 - 09/02/07
Happy New year Everyone
I hope the festive period was a good one for you all
As the New Year inevitably turns up so it gets me thinking about where we were this time 8 years ago and how we had no idea that the 9th of February would become a date we would never forget.
The Richardson's dynamic would change forever!
We've not been a well family over the last month or so with this terrible flu going around and poor Joseph has taken the force of it twice. I know all parents hate to see their kids ill but it invokes a panic in me that I cannot control. It's irrational to be scared but I don't know what caused Alexander to die and my greatest fear is that it will happen again and I don't know what to do to avoid it.
I panic terribly and even 8 years on and my babies now older than Alex I still cannot help getting upset and shaky when things are beyond my control, if it's a physical wound I can do something about that but the things I can't see or immediately make better are the ones that frighten me the most.
Bedtimes are the worst and whilst I need to check for my own sanity that they are ok my body freezes at the touch of the door handle, that little voice inside that says be prepared.
Someone asked me recently 'Why I volunteered to fund-raise such a ridiculously huge amount?' This is why ...without that research I will never know what made Alexander die that day and I'll always live with the fear that my other boys may react the same way to whatever it was that killed him. If we knew what it was maybe we can stop it happening not only to our children but other families as well.
I'm under no illusion that it's a long way off but it's a start and it's a light at the end of a very long tunnel so Thank You everyone who is attending this year's ball, who is organising events for the Challenge, who donated instead of sending Christmas Cards, who came to bag pack 4 days before Christmas,who donated a prize and those who are tweeting #GaryforACB2015
You are a fabulous support to me and it means the world.
Thank You x
Exciting things have been happening here at Big Ball Central and we are pleased to announce that we have our first ever Headline Sponsor of Alexander's Charity Ball.
Sponsorship of The Ball is so important as it allows us make the event spectacular and special without using the proceeds from the sale of tickets, meaning that we can use as much of it as we can to go to our total. This year I've tried to change the way sponsorship works to allow sponsors to donate to a specific element of the ball but we required a large investment to keep the ball rolling as well.
Early this year the lovely Stacey contacted me to say that the company she works for would love to get involved in our fundraising for 2015. It's something they've never done before but they are expanding their horizons, thinking outside the box and they thought our fundraising was a perfect way to get started plus it's a special year for them as Purflo celebrate their 20th birthday.
Purflo have sponsored Alexander's Charity Ball with a generous amount of money to allow us to use as much as we can from tickets sales and fundraisers on the night to go to our total.
Thank You so much for your support Purflo and we shall see you at the ball !!!
Take a look at their website to see what they are all about http://purflo.com/index
If you are interested in sponsoring any element of the night then please do get in touch, we are still adding to our list of requirements http://www.alexanderscharityball.co.uk/sponsorship-packages.html
9th to 15th October
Welcome to our blog I will try as regularly as I can to keep you up to date with The Ball, The Charity and any other news !