So in my last post I confessed past sins from my youth involving being selfish and thoughtless. I know, who would have thought I’d be like that? With this in mind there was a possibility that my girls would end up the same. Happily, I can say that hasn’t been the case and I’m proud to say they’re (mostly) thoughtful and selfless. Clearly they take after Mrs Banana Head. The inspiration for both this and last week’s posts has been what they’ve done over the last few weeks.
Firstly there’s Jade, what can I say about Jade? Well, at 13 she never clears away her clothes, doesn’t take responsibility for anything she does and has very selective hearing when being asked to do anything. She also has a terrible affliction where she’s struck down with trapped wind and has to lie down for an hour at the exact time she’s asked to help with clearing away after mealtimes. Finally and most worryingly she has an unhealthy obsession with Colin O’Donoghue who plays Hook in “Once Upon A Time.” Thankfully she’s also incredibly loving, always thinks of others and is my equal best friend so it’s all good really. Being a teenager I suppose I should be grateful she still talks to us.
A few months ago her friend Ellie was diagnosed with leukaemia. Jade, along with seven other friends got together and decided they wanted to do something to help. Team Ellie was born. First on the agenda was taking part in the Pretty Muddy Watford 5K run. This was basically a slightly less hardcore version of Tough Mudder. They took part in the event on 10th June and all completed the course with a smile (and lashings of mud) on their faces. Ellie was also there to cheer them on and inspire them. So far this has raised over £4,000 for Cancer Research UK. Next was a non-uniform day and bake sale at Marlborough all organised by the girls which raised £1,700 to help with ongoing support for Ellie’s family. The girls won the Maltings Community Award for their Pretty Muddy fundraising which you can read about here.
Ellie was due to have a bone marrow transplant but sadly the chemotherapy hadn’t worked as well as the doctors hoped it would have done and the tumour was extremely aggressive. This all meant there was nothing more they could do and Ellie has come home to be with her family and friends for as long as she has left. Explaining this to Jade was horrible and understandably she was devastated. This was two weeks ago and since then Team Ellie has got together to have pizza and laugh as only friends can. Ellie herself has been an inspiration and so positive throughout and seeing how Jade has dealt with it and been there for Ellie along with the rest of the team has made me very proud. I don’t honestly know if I would have been that strong and supportive had it happened to one of my friends at her age.
Now onto Katie. At 10 years old she’s ridiculously independent to the extent she never wants us to do anything for her. We drew the line at driving as she couldn’t see over the steering wheel. She’s also messy, stubborn, and with a similar condition to Jade by where she desperately needs the toilet the second she’s asked to clear up after meals. Like Jade she’s also incredibly loving, always thinks of others and is also my joint best friend. If I didn’t say equal they’d be hell to pay. I get, “she’s clearly your favourite daughter” from both of them all the time as it is.
The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower Fire shocked and upset Katie as it did everyone. The days following the fire we saw images of families that had lost everything and children that had lost their parents. Katie came back from school one day and said to me in a typically determined manner, “Daddy, I really want to help the families that have lost everything.” Together with two friends, Bonnie and Grace they went to see the Head teacher to ask if they could put on a sale to raise money. Over the next two weeks there was brainstorming a plenty to decide what to sell. On the list was books, bookmarks, cakes, fidget spinners, annoying younger / older siblings and pets among others. Fortunately for Jade and Honey the dog the last two didn’t make the list. They also had to understand that by selling things that they had bought kind of defeated the object. 57 fidget spinners seemed like a good idea at the time.
Instead they had cakes, muffins, home made slime and oobleck (like slime but not so slime like), pencils, sweets, monkey rubbers, a raffle with kindly donated prizes and flower crowns. Inspired by their example more children from the class wanted a piece of the action so joined in with their own stalls. Katie, Bonnie and Grace raised £79.50 and all together the total was £198. Seeing Katie spending the whole day making up the slime and oobleck with Bonnie then seeing her on the stall selling everything they had made me so proud. Again, I don’t know if I would have been spurred to action by seeing a similar tragedy at her age. I more likely would have just carried on playing football and collecting Panini stickers. Whenever we watch Children in Need and Comic Relief the girls insist on donating their pocket money to help, moved by what they see. I can say with absolute assurance I wouldn’t have done that at their age. I don’t know if that says more about what I wasn’t like or what they are me but either way I’m proud to have them as my daughters. They’re both fantastic role models and I feel lucky and blessed to be their daddy.
Next time read about the disasters that occurred when I combined a basketball stand, an arbour and severe spatial awareness issues.