You are visitor number

9 October 2015

1,000 days

It's a thousand days since my sister left us (and almost as long since I've updated this blog). I didn't realise it was, but Mum has this date and time app and every so often, it pops up and tells us it's been so many weeks or so many days and she doesn't like to delete it now. So it keeps popping up.

I was trying to figure out how old I'd be when it reaches 10,000 days ... 100,000 days ... dead probably. It seems an awfully long time away and yet it's strange, because it doesn't seem two minutes since Alice was here. But time is just that and nothing more; it doesn't blur the memories I have. As a ten-year-old, I can recall my disbelief at not being old enough to join Mum on a girls spa day. In the background, desperate to rescue the situation, Alice was busy creating our own spa escape, offering nails, Lush baths and massage, complete with snacks and drinks. We finished the night off snuggled together watching a movie. In all honesty, I probably had more fun than I'd have had at the real spa. Those are the kind of memories that feel as if they happened yesterday (minus the Princess strop) and those are the things I miss.

Alice's spa sign
In my last blog post, I was just into my GCSE exams. With the exception of a couple, they weren't as bad as they could have been and I was happy with my results. I had been accepted onto a Film Production course (screen writing is something I'm really interested in) but my results also gained me a place at Lancaster Girls Grammar Sixth Form, which left me with a dilemma. Ultimately, I decided that A levels were the best route for me and I'm now studying English Language, English Literature, Art and Geography - all subjects I love! In art, we're studying Juxtaposition and I've chosen to do War and Peace which I'm enjoying developing. Lancaster is a beautiful city, the school is full of opportunities and I think I made the right choice.

One of my art pieces
Through the summer, we returned back to Cornwall with my friend, Callum, and the Mums even attempted to learn to surf (which was semi successful)! We enjoyed camping back at Wooda with fantastic weather and many memorable days on the beach with the fantastic team at Big Blue Surf School. I also travelled to Italy and visited Rome, Pisa and, most importantly, Pompeii, where we scattered some of Alice's ashes according to her wishes.

Me and Callum in Cornwall
I also experienced my first solo festival, Kendal Calling, which was a fantastic experience, saddened by the death of a fellow festival goer on the first evening. I didn't know the person concerned, but it certainly affected people. Life is so fragile.

I'm continuing with my volunteering. Alice's charity has been really busy through the summer and we've met some amazing families. Mabel is often down at the charity office and the children love her - Lottie is kept hidden as she is full of Tigger-like bounciness!  Starting at LGGS gave me an opportunity to continue volunteering at Oxfam as part of my Enrichment Program. It's really good to be able to continue to volunteer locally as these places couldn't operate without volunteers.

Yay, no uniform!
I've just turned seventeen and for my birthday, my Nan and Grandad bought me ten driving lessons! I had my first one on my birthday and it's going well, if a little scary. Thankfully, I've improved since lesson three when I almost drove into a wall - dual control has its benefit!

Only two weeks from now, I'll actually be in PERU trekking for Alice! I can't believe it's come around so quickly. I'm taking my GoPro with me and hope to edit a video of my trip. This will be my first big trip without Mum being a part of it which will be strange, although she was lucky enough to do the same trek a few years back as part of a fundraising team for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Anyway, sponsor link for my trek in aid of Alice's Escapes is HERE and if you keep an eye on Alice's Facebook page, I'll be making some Alice things to raise funds too.

I'll hopefully update when I get back ... will leave you with the last training video I edited.

Milly x

18 March 2015

For Alice

It's been 16 months since I climbed Kilimanjaro and I thought it was time that I planned something else for Alice :)

My big news is that I'm going to be spending my October half-term trekking for for Alice. I'll be carrying her ashes along the Inca Trail in Peru and camping rough at night, to reach the Sun Gate on the morning of Thursday 29th October, which is the second place on Alice's list of places to be - 4,200 metres is the highest point, which is 'Dead Woman's Pass'! 
Machu Picchu
Some people think it's odd that Alice asked me, a then fourteen-year-old, if I'd do some pretty odd things after she'd gone - but they were normal to us! As soon as I could walk a few miles, I was dragged up mountains and now I just love being outdoors. Nine-months after we lost Alice, in October 2013, I set off on the first of my promises to her - to climb the world's highest freestanding mountain, Kilimanjaro, and scatter some of her ashes at the summit. It was incredibly hard, but I did it and I'm now on with her next request. 
Summer in England :)
The first place we took Alice was the Maldives where we scattered some of her ashes over a coral reef frame - it was amazing and we can go online and look at Alice's coral whenever we like. If you want to look, click HERE and it's frame KH1118. Then, I took Alice to the summit of Kilimanjaro, which was the first wish on the list she left us and probably the hardest of them all - that was thing I'm most proud of in my life. Over Easter, we're going trekking in the Pyrenees and we're taking some of Alice with us there, so that will be the third place she gets to be, and then it will be the Inca Trail in October! There's plenty left including Hawaii and re-visiting the Orca's in Vancouver.
Scattering Alice's ashes over her coral reef frame
I've got to raise money for my trek and I'll be raising money for Alice's Escapes, my sister's charity. The charity does amazing things and it's amazing how much has been achieved in such a short time. I help out at the weekends and during school holidays (me and Mum were at the charity office on Mother's Day) and I love meeting some of the families we have staying. They are usually really lovely people and you realise how much a holiday means to them. Some of the parents are so stressed with hospital and work that it's just nice to see them relax a bit. The poorly child can just chill and I can relate to being a sibling of a sick child. It's really nice for them to get some quality family time too, it really benefits everyone. 
Alice was always smiling
So, I'm asking you all to help me please. You can SPONSOR ME or you could even do a fundraiser for me, to help me reach my target. I'm going to be making things to sell and I'm also offering babysitting if you are in the Ulverston area. I'm planning an fundraising event in Ulverston and hopefully doing some bag packing too. One of my plans is to film the whole thing, so I should have another video to upload, but a Peru video rather than a Kili video. It's important to me to help families get a week away, because I know what it's like to live in a hospital and I am also determined to take Alice to everywhere she wanted - glad she didn't ask me to swim with sharksThis is for you, Alice #OneLifeLiveIt

Other than my trekking plans, I am keeping my head down and focusing on my exams. I've managed to fit Oxfam in a bit more lately, which is good because I do enjoy it and they're all so nice in there. Oh and you remember that my mum found her necklace? Well, she thought that they'd just post it back or something, but Inside Edition actually flew her back out to New York and she got to meet the family who found her necklace. How amazing is that? You can watch the video HERE. She got to spend a few more days out there and everyone looked after her really well - she did a couple of shows, visited the Empire State Building and spent a whole day in the 9/11 museum. On her last day, she went to find the Alice in Wonderland sculpture which is in Central Park.
Alice in Wonderland, Central Park

22 February 2015

A month in the life of a Milly

Only a month since I blogged but a lot has happened so I thought I'd update :)

I've had a few problems over this last month, which has left me not trusting a few people. Some parts are my fault, but it's made me realise that I really am ready to move on from my school. Overall, it's been good for me and I'll really, really miss a few of the teachers, but it's time to move on. I have my sixth form studies set up and am very excited about the next two years, where I can study subjects of my choice, which I'm naturally interested in. My plan is to move into film - production, screen writing or editing - or perhaps journalism. I love to study people and am constantly thinking how something could have been done differently on screen.

I've been cutting back a bit on my hours at Oxfam, which makes me feel bad, but I really need to put more hours into my school work. On Saturday's, my art teacher has been opening up the art studio and allowing me to work on my art. I really love these sessions as it's so peaceful and the atmosphere is much more relaxed than in normal school time.

My Mum had a meeting in London with Delete Blood Cancer UK, who she's going to be volunteering for. I'm really excited to be helping her and it's really cool that we can recruit from 17 - 55 year olds now.  So if you have a work place locally to us, drop Mum an email via her charity email address and she'll let you know more.

At the end of term, I had another appointment in London and then, as a treat, Mum and I flew out to New York to meet Dad who had been working out there. He'd been away for quite a while and was working silly hours so it was a nice treat for him to have us there. I was so lucky as Mum and Dad surprised me with tickets to the New York City Ballet where I got to watch them perform Romeo and Juliet - it was breathtaking.

We managed to see quite a few of the sights, but nothing got to me like Ground Zero. It was just so sad to read all the names and think about all the people lost, all the lives that should have been. There was one that mentioned 'and her unborn child'. That was really, really sad - that child should be turning fourteen this year, not much younger than me. It really made me think about everything Alice managed to experience and achieve, even though it was still sad to lose her. She was here.

The weather in New York was vile - it was the coldest they've had in years and years. Something like minus sixteen! We visited the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge and saw the Statue of Liberty. We were having such a nice day and then it was all destroyed when my mum realised that her necklace was missing. She was so upset - it was the necklace that Alice had made for her and it had mine and Alice's fingerprints in it. She wouldn't leave the hotel as that was the only place she could get wifi and she knew that she needed to put it on Facebook and Twitter so people could start looking.  Although it didn't spoil our trip completely, it was really sad to have to get on the plane home without it.

We were only in the States for a few days, but we got to see our old friends, the Marriott's. My mum and Jen are best friends and they hugged and cried for ages when they saw each other. We haven't seen them all for years and it was nice to catch up with the girls. There was loads and loads and loads of snow everywhere - fun for a few days but I'm not sure I'd want to live in it. I got some new Timberland boots which I'm very happy with and Mum got a nice new handbag.

When we got back, we couldn't believe how big the story about Alice's necklace had become. It was everywhere and so many people were trying to help find it. It was retweeted by so many celebs and lots of people went looking for it, including a New York running group! Mum went back to her office on Friday and in the afternoon, she got a call to say that a couple had found it. How amazing is that? I don't think she could believe it, she kept repeating herself and then grinning. She'd kept saying that most people are good, so I think she's right. Wouldn't it be a nice world if everyone was like that?

I'm back out training for the Keswick to Barrow walk in May - not got a chance of making the £4,000 I raised last year, but I'm going to give it a good try. I'm working on a fundraising scheme, just a few things to think about, but I think £1,000 will be ambitious for this year - you can support me HERE

So I'm back to school tomorrow for my last half term before I go on study leave. I'm going to try to work so hard and keep my head down because I know where I want to go in life and I know I need the results. I'm not one of those dead clever people who can remember everything, so I do find it quite difficult. Can't remember if it was Alice or my Mum that said 'your best is always good enough', but that's what I'm going to do. My best.

Will post a photo of my Mum when she gets her necklace back :)

Love Milly x

18 January 2015

Two years ...

Hi everyone

It's been a while since I blogged, sorry.  I don't want to turn Alice's blog into a place where I write about senseless things like painting my nails and eating pizza but four months might be too long!

Today, it's been two years since we said our last goodbye to Alice. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Alice had requested a humanist funeral and the celebrant dyed her hair purple. It was a beautiful day - it snowed. Not that slushy stuff, but lovely, fluffy white snow. And where we went for drinks afterwards had a gorgeous dog and Cath Kidston curtains at the windows. It was a weird day, the sort that you wouldn't really plan, but I think Alice would have liked it because it was cosy.

I mentioned the Heart of Ulverston awards in my last blog. This was an important nomination for me as although I've won lots of awards, Ulverston is my home town and very important to me. I was very honoured to win my category which was for young citizen, especially as there was two other very worthy nominees. I just need to practise my public speaking as I'm hopeless when it gets to the speaking part. But it was a great night and once I'd accepted my award, I got to relax.

We held our first charity ball at the end of November. I know that a lot of people worked really hard to make it happen, but the whole thing was brill and I really enjoyed dressing up and having fun. The next day, on Saturday we wandered around Ulverston's Dickensian festival and on Sunday, in Alice's honour, we celebrated our Christmas in November for the fifth year. I got a GoPro camera from Mum and Dad which was top of my wish list. It was a special weekend, because our American friend, Amanda, was staying with us in the UK and got to share it with us.

Alice's birthday was next and we had a lovely time with Paul and Leigh at Emma Bridgewater in Stoke. It was one of Alice's favourite places to go and she spent a lot of time there when she was having treatment, so it felt right. We lit a candle for her, ate cake and painted pots #19InTheStars

We don't really celebrate 'real' Christmas anymore. It's not the same without Alice and it's so commercial anyway. Last year we went skiing and this year we decided that we needed to go somewhere hot, so we spent Christmas in Cape Verde, which is a collection of islands in the Atlantic ocean, off the coast of Africa. There wasn't much there, but there was a beautiful beach that you could walk miles along and the people were so lovely. I took my surfboard with me, but the ocean was a bit vicious and I didn't spend that much time out there.  We spent Christmas Day on the beach and went for a long walk which was nice and relaxing.

Earlier this week was Alice's two-year anniversary and thanks to Phil, who is a friend of our charity, we were lucky to spend some time at the Coppermine Cottages which are half way up Coniston Old Man. Just like last year, we spent Alice's day on the mountain with the dogs and toasted her with champagne. I made a video of our day - it's not perfect because it was freezing and blowing a gale, but I hope you like it and it captures a bit of our day - MY ALICE DAY VIDEO

I've been studying hard for my exams which are quite soon now. I spend half of my time with a book in my hand so it won't surprise you that my favourite subject is English, closely followed by art. I'm reading Wuthering Heights at the moment - it's an intense love story but I'm saddened by Heathcliff's self destructive journey. Alongside Wuthering Heights, I have two works to study for my GCSEs -   'Of Mice and Men' and 'Romeo and Juliet'. Very different but both tragic!

I'm still at Oxfam and still doing things for Alice's Escapes, although it's fairly quiet at the moment and I'm trying to make sure my school work doesn't get behind.

I've been hooked on the documentary 'Walking the Nile'. If you haven't seen it, it's still on 4OD and it is really, really good. Basically, Lev is documenting his attempt to be the first man to walk the entire length of the Nile, along the longest possible route, which is almost 4,000 miles. WOW, I'd love to do that but doubt I'd be able to and probably wouldn't have the courage anyway! So, at the weekend, Mum surprised me and I got to go down to London and enjoy an evening out with some of the team, including Lev and Boston (so now I know that they survive)!

During the February half term, I'm excited to be flying out to stay in New York City and also visit our friends in Rhode Island. I've been to New York before but it's a big city and I've not done all of it. I've found out that Romeo and Juliet is being performed by the New York City Ballet on the week I'm there so we're going to try to get to go along.  Then, at Easter, I'm off to the French Pyrenees to do some walking, so hopefully get to play with my GoPro again :)

May will be K2B time again, so I need to do some serious training (and even more serious fundraising) and, before I know it, it will be summer and I can get back to Cornwall :)

Hope you are all doing okay, will update again in a few months.
Love Milly x

12 September 2014

Give a Spit

My biggest news is that now I'm finally SIXTEEN, I've be able to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. I've written more about it below, but please think about whether you could join or raise awareness :)

In my last post, I was thinking about going back to school and I felt like it was almost the end of summer. But I was wrong ...
On my birthday week, my Mum and Dad surprised me by hiring a VW camper van for the week. It was amazing but what was really special was that the camper van was called 'Alice'. Mum and I drove SLOWLY back to Bude and I was so happy to be back down there. I thought that I'd already got my birthday present but when I turned up at Big Blue on my actual birthday morning, I couldn't believe that Mum and Dad had bought me a new surf board from Zuma Jay.
My Sweet Sixteenth
Unbelievably, I managed to catch the very first wave I went for and I had a really great day. At night time, we went out for dinner at the site we were staying at which was called Wooda Farm - it's where we stayed earlier in summer too. When I wasn't surfing, me and mum spent the week driving around in 'Alice' which was so relaxing. Everywhere we drove, people beeped and waved at us. It's definitely something to add to your 'to do' list.

When I got home, I had to get all my school stuff sorted as I went back at the end of August. I'm in my final year now, year 11 and it's all work and exams. I haven't decided exactly what I want to do next year, but I'm hoping to do something in TV / film - either behind the camera, art dept or screenwriting, so I might go to college and take the BTEC route to Uni, rather than standard A levels. Other than English and Art, I'm not really good at anything and so I think I'd be wasting time trying to do 4 A levels. I was also interested in doing something with the outdoors, but although I got an A* in the physical side, I got an E in the theory and ended up with a combined 'C' for my GCSE PE. Science definitely isn't a strong point of mine. Sorry Mrs Hesford!

So, I'm back at school and have loads of work that I need to get sorted. I'm enjoying Geography which is one of my new one year courses and off on a field trip next week, to gather data from a river.  I've also agreed to play netball for school, which is really as a fill in, but without a few extra people volunteering, we won't have a team and so I'll just do the best I can! I'm back to working out a few times a week as I've let that slide over summer - I have a few events to attend in the next few months, so I don't want bumpy bits in my dresses! Plus it will give me a head start for the next K2B in May.

The first event I'm going to is really special because it's in my home town of Ulverston. In the summer, I was nominated for a "Heart of Ulverston Award" for my charity fundraising and voluntary work.  Anyway, last week, I found out that I've been short listed against two other young people and the winner is chosen by public vote. So, if you would like to support me, I'd appreciate your vote ... Text "EM HEART 5" to 84555 ... it should send you a "thank you for your vote". I think :)

After the awards, our charity is holding a 'Christmas in November Ball' on 28th November. All the details are going to be on the website soon but it's going to be Black Tie and I think there'll be a lot of purple dresses :) Alice would love to know that we are keeping her Christmas in November going - for anyone who doesn't get it, you'll have to look back through Alice's posts, but we'll be putting her Festive Lights purple tree up again. It's also followed by the Dickensian Festival in Ulverston, so it will get everyone in the mood for Christmas.
Alice - Christmas in November 2012
A couple of weeks ago, I joined the Anthony Nolan register which was a big thing for me. I promised Alice I would do it as soon as I could and I just hope that one day, I'm a match for someone. There can't be anything better than saving a life.  Mum is starting up a voluntary group to visit and educate college students in the area and so I went along to one of the training events and it was really nice to see so many others turn up to join our team. Having a team of people will mean that we can cover all 16-18 year olds in the local area. If you want to know more about the Anthony Nolan register (16-30) click HERE ... if you are older but would like to help, details on Delete Blood Cancer (18-55) is HERE.

My very own spit kit! 
 Just over a week ago, Team Alice made lanterns and joined in the Ulverston Lantern Festival again. We didn't do it last year because it just felt wrong without Alice but this year, we thought she'd want us to and we had a great evening. I made Team Alice t-shirt lantern, and Mum carried the Mabel lantern that Alice made three years ago and it got lots of attention.  The weather was brilliant and the fireworks at the end were like been at Disney, they were amazing!

I've just been down to London to see my new team to plan the next stage of my treatment. I'm slowly having to move on from Great Ormond Street which is really sad and I was at the Eastman Hospital in London to look at moving my teeth and my jaw forward. I was a bit unsure about the hospital initially,  but the team were really nice and I still have some of my old team too, so that made it better. I think it's just because I've gone to GOSH for 16 years and everything feels familiar there.

This week in school we had a lady who'd had cancer come in and talk to us about a charity she is involved with and she talked a lot about cancer and kept saying how rare it is for a child to get it. I get uncomfortable when people talk about cancer in a simplistic way, because as well as me losing Alice, there's other people in our school who have lost people very close to them. It's nothing to do with been a fighter - there wouldn't be any cancer left in the world if fight had anything to do with it. It's luck of the cancer, luck of where you live and luck of the treatment you do (or don't) receive.  After accidents, cancer is the leading cause of death in children. It kills more children than the things that most Mums and Dads worry about most.

Well, I started this on the 12th and it's the 28th now, but at least it's here - I have loads of work to catch up on and I've to get my outdoor gear ready for a geography field trip tomorrow, so I better go!

Milly x