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Happy Birthday Captain Tom

Happy Birthday Captain Tom!!!  Captain Tom has been part of the most inspirational story during this Coronavirus pandemic and everyone has followed his fundraising and sponsored walk with interest and admiration. His total stands at over £29.5 million and is still rising. The sponsored walk was initially due to be completed by his 100th birthday, which is today and after following his inspirational journey we couldn’t let today go without wishing him a happy birthday. His rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone duetting with Michael Ball reached number one in the charts raising yet more funds.

The Royal Mail says that all stamped post up until Friday will be marked with: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020”.

Royal Mail has also said it has been inundated with birthday cards for Captain Tom and that they have had to open a dedicated collection box. There have been so many cards that they have all been sent to Bedford School. This is the school that one of his grandsons attend. All the cards have been stood up and displayed. Over 125,000 birthday cards have already been received at the school. I bet there will be plenty more or should I say Moore!! Certainly a good show for the hero of Coronavirus. Happy birthday from us here at Banana Crumble.

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No wonder she is known as Hurricane Hannah!!

Hannah Cockcroft is a truly inspirational athlete. Within two hours of her birth she suffered two cardiac arrests which left her with damage to two parts of her brain and with weakness and deformity in her legs and hips. The Doctors told her parents that she would never be able to walk. A strong and determined set of parents and an equally determined Hannah wanted to prove everyone wrong and following on from years of therapy she was able to take her first steps. Hannah was able to attend mainstream school and it was whilst at school that her love of sport started.

Hannah competed in the school wheelchair games and won a silver medal at the seated discus event. It was whilst competing in these championships that she was introduced to Dr Ian Thompson (husband of Para Olympian legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson) who introduced her to wheelchair racing and then to quote her website “the rest was history”.

Since then Hannah has gone on to win numerous European and World Championship titles and medals, multiple Paralympic medals and she has Tokyo 2020 as her next target for yet more gold medals. In an interview this week she said that when she started she didn’t have much competition and people said she was only winning because there was no one close to her standard. As time has gone on this isn’t the case any more and the younger athletes are coming through and inspiring Hannah to train and keep working so she can continue winning medals and titles.

In 2013 Hannah was awarded the MBE for services to athletics. I remember seeing Hannah compete at the London 2012 Paralympics in the T34 100 metres and claim gold. What do I remember most, not just the margin that she won by but the huge smile that was so clear to see as she completed her victory lap. Definitely one of my 2012 memories.

To be able to compete at such a high level for so long takes real determination and dedication and Hannah manages to do this in such a personable way and always with a smile on her face. I am sure that she she must have inspired so many athletes to take up sport and then beyond to their own personal goals. Long may her dream of competing and winning more gold medals continue and her legacy to inspire others will go on and on. Whilst researching this I was struck by Hannah’s favourite phrase – “Those afraid of pain will never know glory” explains why she has done so well. To read more about Hannah she has a really interesting website.

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Don’t be defined by your disability

We are always looking for stories that are positive and inspirational. Sometimes when we find these stories it is hard to believe how much people have actually overcome. Such tales can help inspire others that may be in a similar circumstance but everybody who finds themselves in difficult situations doesn’t necessarily have the physical strength or even strength of character to take on these great challenges and for them it is literally a case of taking one tiny step each day and building on that.

Lee Spencer is a marine who lost his leg in an accident. Earlier in the year he completed the fastest unsupported solo row across the Atlantic. He finished the crossing from mainland Europe to South America in 60 days to take the record.

The remarkable thing about this record is that he actually beat the able bodied record for the same route by 36 days. Lee Spencer served in the armed forces for 24 years and he raised funds for the Royal Marines Charity and the Endeavour Fund. He had said that he wanted to prove that no one should be defined by disability. Looking at some of the comments on social media about the event it makes you realise how inspirational Lee Spencer is and I think this is summed up in just this tweet :

Hopefully this story can help inspire everyone in some way be it with a huge challenge or literally that first tiny step of onwards and upwards. Certainly an inspiration in our eyes.

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The Virgin London Marathon – more than just a running race….

The Virgin London Marathon is an institution but on so many levels. There are many races happening on the same day. There are people competing for world record times and people competing in their own personal challenges and everything in between.

We have seen and heard so many stories that prove people really are inspirational in so many ways. Our charity of the year is The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and we have followed the amazing stories from two of our Banana Chatters Liam McHugh and Natalie Crawford.

Liam’s daughter has Cystic Fibrosis and Liam has dedicated his life to raising funds for the treatment of CF.

Natalie herself has CF and wants to prove to her son, who also has CF, that he can do anything despite the condition.

Both finished on Sunday with great times and are truly amazing people who have not only inspired others but helped raise such well needed funds for a great cause.

There are just so many inspirational stories, too many to mention but these took our attention: the oldest lady being 84 who finished the marathon in just under six and a half hours. We heard about a lady suffering with mental health issues but using the discipline of training and raising money as an incentive and way of dealing with her health issues. People affected by different conditions all raising funds for so many good causes and charities. Sometimes it takes the thought of helping others or to raise money or just the thought of achieving a personal goal that drives people on. Millions of pounds will have been raised to help so many charities but more than that the satisfaction of achieving something like this will live with people for ever and make memories but more importantly really make a difference to so many people both in terms of treatment, research, help, personal goals, challenges and so much more.

During this year’s marathon the total money raised for charity since the very first London Marathon has beaten the one billion pound mark.

Banana Crumble would like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Marathon but would like to say a massive well done to Liam and Natalie – you are both truly inspirational.

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I had a dream!!

I had a dream!! I wanted to make the world a better place, I wanted to help people have a chance to take that first step as they start out, I wanted to help raise money for charity and I wanted to give people a chance to be happy!! That was my dream and we are now just over a year on from that initial dream.

Have I achieved this?

Our Banana Chat is aimed at an inspirational person each week and in most cases is someone at the start of their career needing a bit of publicity or a chance to have something published or advertised. How amazing is it that we have featured bands, musicians, sports people, business start ups and and many more. They have all been given the chance to promote whatever they want and to raise awareness for their own project or a charity close to their heart. This has been so rewarding and the feedback from those featured and those reading the article has been nothing more than remarkable. Tick – I feel I have well and truly given people the chance to take that first step into the world and hopefully help some along the way.

Raise money for charity – Absolutely tick, with our own fundraising evenings and the unclaimed prizes from Banana Crumble we have raised over £5000 for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. A huge sum of money that will hopefully help the Trust with their really valuable work.

Make the world a better place – In a year where there has been lots of bad news we have published almost 300 articles and every one has been a good news or positive story. If the feature didn’t  quite tick that box then it was designed to make you smile. Moving on to our Smile Wall, this has made so many people happy just by looking at it and when we get messages like this 100% we have achieved this goal.

Thank you so much, you would not believe how much we appreciate this as we were so worried about affording Xmas for the kids. This will really help us.

I wanted to make people happy – this is another big tick. Each week when we hear from our winners we ask them for a quote which we have featured in our articles throughout the year. To have helped so many people to do so many things, this is just such an amazing feeling.

I’m a university student so the money will really help with buying food and maybe a night out with my mate. It was really good timing to be fair, as it’s coming up to Christmas and I’m rather short of money at the moment!

Have I achieved my dream? I can 100% say I am really proud of all that we have achieved with Banana Crumble. Have I made any money from this? Absolutely not. I used some money that my Grandad left me to set this up and I know that he would be extremely proud of all that we have achieved.

How do we take Banana Crumble forward. We are looking for companies that have the same positive ethos as us, who want to help us raise money for charity, give people a chance to start out and to inspire others. We are looking for small companies who would like to feature with us and can appear on our website and would perhaps like to advertise with us. We want to find companies who are starting out who can’t afford the massive advertising costs associated with big business. If you feel that you are positive enough to want to join us and would like to talk advertising or sponsorship with us please email us at admin@bananacrumble.co.uk. We are looking for bigger companies who would like to sponsor us and help us continue with our philosophy.

Unclaimed prizes, any profit goes to charity, people have the chance to win a cash prize each week – what is there to lose. It really is win win for everyone and hopefully one that we can take forward into our second year with Banana Crumble. How can you help us ? Read our articles, click on our adverts and get all your friends and family to sign up. Easy!!!!

Have you signed up to Banana Crumble yet?

Sign up today for FREE for your chance to win £25, £50 and £100 each and every week. Sign up takes 2 minutes. All unclaimed prizes get donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. By signing up, reading, sharing and liking our articles, you are helping us raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust! Thank you!

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Banana Chat – meet Dan Austin

Hello, my name is Dan Austin and I am a 25 year old from Newark in Nottinghamshire. I studied at Southend High School for Boys before gaining my Masters Degree at Aberystwyth University. I am a keen sports fan and love spending time in the outdoors.

What is your favourite joke?
I’m not a joke fan.

What makes you smile?
The reaction of my cats (Lord and Lady Tiddlesworth), when my wife comes home from work.

What is your favourite good news story?
England beating Columbia! Football’s coming home.

What inspires you?
Red Wine – a lot of great decisions come after drinking red wine!

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
The taste of Brussels Sprouts when boiled.

If you could have one superpower what would you choose and why?
Napping – I love a good nap.

What is your favourite food?
Curry.

What is your favourite drink? 
Whisky in the winter and beer in the summer! But it has to be a proper beer! None of this rubbish Fosters stuff!

If you are going on holiday what luxury item would you take from home?
Salad Cream.

If you could make one law, what would it be and why?
All housing is free.

Give us a random piece of information about you that people wouldn’t know? 
I go to bed religiously at 9 o’clock.

What is your favourite phrase or saying?
Fanta Naranja sin hielo por favor…

What cause, project or event would you like to promote? 
The spreading of Good News that Banana Crumble does and the money it helps to raise for charity. You would just be mad not to sign up!

Who is your favourite music artist?
Busted – I’ve seen them live, they do not disappoint!

Who is the person that you feel has shaped your life most? 
Gandalf – nothing else to be said. What a man and what a beard.

PJ’s or Not? 

PJ’s or not ? Not

Hot or cold? Hot

Cat or dog? Cat

Blue or pink? Blue

Tea or Coffee? Depends on the time of day

Glass half-empty or half full? Half-empty

Night out or night in? Night In

Pizza or pasta? Pizza

Biscuits or cake? Cake

Wine or beer? Beer

Football or rugby? Football

Cinema or theatre? Neither

Gym or TV?  TV

Naughty or nice? Neither

Silver or gold? Gold

Tent or hotel? Tent

Bath or shower? Shower

Starter or pudding? Pudding

Sheets or duvet? Sheets

Love Island or Game of Thrones? Neither – they’re both rubbish

Finally, apple or banana? Apple

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Inspirational poppy seller retires after 97 years …….

The poppy seller is part of our heritage and seen on the streets, particularly around Remembrance Day. We actually featured a poppy seller on our Good News Story back in November.

The Royal British Legion started selling poppies in 1921 and it was in that first year that six year old Rosemary Powell started selling poppies with her mother. Mrs Powell grew up in London close to where the poppies were made. The poppy had a particularly poignant significance for her as she lost her fiancé, her younger brother and three uncles to the horrors of war. Her father was also injured during the Battle of the Somme.

Mrs Powell is reported as saying “We did it in memory of those men who were killed, for their sacrifice.”

Mrs Powell has sold poppies every year since that day, even when living abroad for some of that time. Since 2015 Mrs Powell has been in a Chiswick nursing home but she still continued with her inspirational story by selling poppies to residents, staff and their families.

After 97 years selling and at the grand old age of 103, she has been reported as saying that she is “too old” to sell any more  and that it is time to hand the reigns over to younger sellers. The Royal British Legion celebrated her achievement with a presentation made by a previously injured service man who had benefited from the fundraising.

A truly remarkable story and one that has certainly captured the imagination of us here.

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Second time round……

No one knows how you will react until you are told that you have cancer, in that minute your world seems to stop, and all you think and want to know is “how long have I got” when you leave the doctors or hospital you suddenly have a different outlook on life and what is important, the ONLY IMPORTANT STUFF you need to think about are FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

My name is Carl Barnard and I am 59 years young, I am a badminton coach and have been for many years now, I was first diagnosed with lung cancer on Christmas Eve 2013 (think they would have waited) 

 I had half of my left lung removed in an 8-hour operation in February 2014, the surgeon knowing I was a coach carried out my operation by keyhole surgery, for which I am still very grateful as I only have a small scar and I was home after 4 days and the recovery went well.  I was back playing and coaching after 2 months, which was remarkable according to the doctors.

In August 2017 I woke one morning with an ulcer on the underneath of my tongue, after trying well known gels nothing seemed to happen, so off to the doctor only to be referred to see my dentist. Trying to get an appointment with them took 7 weeks, by now it had grown, the dentist took one look and referred me to hospital straight away, so off I went. In January 2018 after having many tests and scans, it was confirmed that I had cancer on my tongue and was taken into hospital for immediate surgery. The operation this time took 9.5 hours, they had to remove the front half of my tongue and also had to do a dissection of my neck (cut from ear to ear) and they removed 54 lymph nodes, 2 of which had signs of cancer.

After this operation I had to stay in hospital for 3 weeks as I had 4 drains in my neck and was not allowed to leave until they stopped, then they told me that because the 2 nodes had cancer it was in my best interest to have radiotherapy to make sure all was ok. Unfortunately for me this meant they removed all my teeth due to the damage that could be caused by radiotherapy and I had to have a feeding tube inserted into my stomach in case of any swelling in my mouth, so this meant another 2 operations. These went well and I was only in for 2 days on each occasion.

The R.T was daily for 6 weeks and I was bolted down to a table with a mask that meant that I could not move a muscle.

The R.T finished on FRIDAY 13th (had to be me, didn’t it) the following 2 weeks have been so painful due to the swelling and burns caused by the R.T, but it is now May and I am on the road to recovery. The burns on my neck have almost gone and the swelling in my mouth is going down daily and I am hoping to be eating in the next couple of weeks, as feeding through the tube is not much fun.

I mentioned at the start that family and friends are all you need, my partner Teena has been my rock and has gone through this twice with me now, never complaining and travelling to London daily to see me whilst I was in hospital and my daughter and son in law the same which took them over 5 hours each time to drive, but I got to see my 2 year old granddaughter, so I was very grateful to the pair of them and I’m not one for being able to express my feeling in words, but I’m sure they all  know how much they mean to me.

I feel so lucky and blessed that I seem to have so many friends that care. The places where I coach have been so understanding it is impossible to put into words, after being diagnosed and told that I wouldn’t be able to work for 6 months, I thought that they would just let me go, how wrong I have been.

At Redbridge Performance centre the head coach Martin Lawrence made sure that all the classes that I coached would be covered for me until my return no matter how long it takes and has been in touch constantly checking up on my progress.

At Emerson Eagles Badminton Club the head coach Amanda Austin did the same for me and has also been in touch constantly checking up on me and reassured me that my place is there when I am ready to go back.

Even my old badminton club that I left several years ago sent me flowers when they heard about my predicament, this means so much to me on a personal note and just proves that all you need is FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

On a good note Martin,with some help from Amanda has organised a charity day at Redbridge Sports Centre on 14 July on my behalf, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Trust.  A parent and child tournament, an exhibition from England players is hopeful, a raffle and other fun things going on.

I have suffered this horrible disease and have experienced first-hand the wonderful support that Macmillan provide. I would like to think that I am a bit tough and my attitude has always been “I’M KICKING YOUR BUTT CANCER” which I believe has also got me through on both occasions, but I know that if I need them I have my family and friends and Macmillan are on the phone at any time.

So to wrap it up, I am hoping to be back coaching at the end of May or first week of June and I have an appointment with the dental surgeon on the 26th June to see if I can have some nice new shiny dentures (the answer better be yes or else).

Article written by Carl Barnard.

I have known Carl for many years and he really is one of the most inspirational people I know. He is always so positive and even through the days that must have been very dark he still managed to find something to laugh and smile about. Even in this article he finishes with the bit about shiny new teeth. That is just so Carl and we are all looking forward to welcoming him back to our coaching team in a few weeks. If you would like to go along to the fundraising day or donate to this please contact badminton@RSLonline.co.uk and help them raise lots of money for Macmillan which everyone knows is a really worth cause. Please also see Carl’s Just Giving page to read more about him and the fundraising day.

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Stammer with confidence …

Abed Ahmed is a teacher from Birmingham. He began to stammer from the age of four, and struggled at school due to lack of support. Abed took GCSE drama and he felt that this was a great tool in helping towards dealing with stammer and helped with his confidence. At age 19, he started working with a speech and language therapist, and his confidence flourished.

“That therapy helped me begin the journey of embracing my stammer and accepting that it’s part of who I am,” he says. “Getting the right professional support has enabled me to begin a career that absolutely depends on having confidence in your ability to communicate clearly.” ”I realised that I stopped thinking about my stammer once I stopped caring about what people think. I now control what was once controlling me.  So, raising awareness is invaluable – the more people are aware of stammering, the easier it becomes for stammerers.” Abed says he was often teased at school which made things hard for him. He said that his parents would just tell him to speak slowly but he never felt that stammering was fully understood.

It was whilst Abed was in the sixth from at school that he decided to get help. It took him almost a year for this help to be received. He said that just being able to open up and talk to someone who understood made him realise that he could deal with the stammer. He said that it made him believe that if he didn’t care about his stammer and stop worrying about what other people felt this was a great start.

Abed took his degree and became a Maths teacher. He had been told that with a stammer he would never be able to be a teacher. This didn’t put him off and he persevered. He is now a teacher at his former secondary school, and has set up a Stammer Support Group to empower today’s students who have a speech impediment, and to help them to find their own voice. In the Stammer Support Sessions he has included drama, role play, interview help and other areas that he feels will benefit those in the class.

In an article about Abed he says “This is what teaching is all about – making a difference to a child’s life. I believe I was a role model to these pupils as I myself have a stammer and thus can relate to how difficult it can be to deal with stammering on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately I piloted these sessions because I aim to give all pupils a voice. It is important that all students of all abilities have a positive mind-set and the confidence that is needed to achieve their goals despite having a stammer. The impact of such sessions on their personal development and confidence has been colossal. Pupils have flourished in character as a result of the sessions. I have found it a gratifying experience, particularly because I can relate to their struggles. As a pupil I felt isolated and nervous because I was not given the support I needed throughout the vital years of development. These pupils now have access to means of support at an outstanding establishment.

I am going to be leading on more projects in the upcoming academic year at my school. I want to raise more awareness amongst the staff in school, and want to help pupils further with their confidence in speech and language. I will be doing this by publishing a stammering awareness video which I have created with my pupils”  This video can be found at https://youtu.be/nalMre18ruA. The video has reached places far and wide.

 Ed Balls tweeted “Watch some really brave young people explaining why their stammers aren’t going to stop them. Great video Mr Ahmed !” Great British Bake Off Winner Nadiya tweeted “What an inspirational bunch of kids!!! So much love to them and all the hard work you do xx”

In the following link Abed gets the children with a stammer to talk to their year group for the very first time to try and explain their individual story and how they would like to be treated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L53vhcRaBvo&t=74s

Stammering affects 1% of adults and almost 5% of children. Hopefully by sharing this story we can help others realise their dreams and realise that a stammer does not close doors and it is for the individual to find the key to future successes. After researching this story the one thing that I have taken from this is for people who stammer, they should try to stammer with confidence and not let this affect their ambitions and if in our daily lives we meet those who stammer to let them finish what they are saying and not interrupt them or finish their sentences.

You can’t be a teacher if you have stammer!!!! You proved them wrong Abed Ahmed (teacher).

Email: abedahmed@live.com

Twitter: @stammer_teacher

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Rowing into the record books

If you are part of the team that has just rowed across the Atlantic in less than 30 days – how do you celebrate ? With a cup of tea and enough food to feed an army!

Friends Dicky Taylor, George Biggar, Peter Robinson and Stuart Watts – also known as The Four Oarsmen – crossed the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge just after 2am on the morning of Saturday 13th January 2018.

They rowed into English Bay, Antigua, after 29 days and 15 hours at sea, beating the previous record by six days.

When back on dry land the four said that whilst it was great to see their family and friends, digging into pizza and burgers was a fantastic feeling, and not forgetting a good old-fashioned brew.

Mr Taylor said: “We’ve all just had two full breakfasts, we had so much pizza last night and we’re all still hungry. We’ve been without sugar the whole time and just rowed on fat so the cravings have been huge.”

The four team members lost a combined 38kg  which is virtually 6 stone, during the race.

The quartet entered the 3,000 mile race as a fundraiser for charities Mind and Spinal Research UK, in memory of Mr Biggar’s mother Anne Fisher and in support of Mr Robinson’s friend Ben Kende. Mr Biggar said: “We set out with it as a charity initiative for two charities. Anne Fisher , although a successful lawyer suffered from severe depression and in 2011 was found washed up on the beach near their home. The other chosen charity was selected  after Mr Robinson’s friend Ben Kende, a rising star of Hong Kong rugby, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2010. The accident left Mr Kende tetraplegic with limited use of his arms and no use of his legs. He was only 18 when this life changing injury happened.

So far The Four Oarsmen have raised over £250,000 for charity When the team started out they were one of 25 teams taking part and expected just to complete the task in about 40 days but they progressed well on their challenge and soon the record was in their sights. In fact family members had to rebook flights so that they could arrive at the finish destination to greet them.

The Race organisers said they believed the quartet completed the fastest Atlantic row of all time, as well as in race history.

The four friends were however unanimous over their decision not to take part in the race again, commenting that anyone else was welcome to break their record.