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I absolutely loved working with Kristina on this feature. She had an idea to create an advent calendar with a charity twist – behind every door is a 50p contribution to a charity. The premise supports 24 incredible charities, all carefully selected by Kristina and covering good causes in various areas, from children in need to animals in need and everything in between. It is such a lovely idea and this year, she’s already reached £150k raised.

What an achievement – the calendars are stocked on Advent Of Change and also in John Lewis and Waitrose. So much better than chocolate!

You can read Kristina’s feature in Notebook here.

Love, love, LOVE this story! Absolutely love writing about women who have been on a journey to find peace with themselves. Women who have self-confidence, self-acceptance and happiness, much deserved. These are the kind of stories I want to read when I open a magazine and it is my great honour to help make them happen! Read all about Rachel, Nadine and Zoe in the new issue of Woman’s Own, out now.

If only there were just tantrums… poor Grace was dismissed by GPs as going through a ‘tantrum phase’. Sadly, what her change of behaviour actually revealed was the utterly devastating Batten’s disease. Mum Izabela shares her story in Bella magazine this week. It’s heartbreaking, but if her drug trial starts soon they hope to ward off and delay the onset of the debilitating symptoms.

For more about Batten’s visit the BDFA 

Another great resource is the website owned and run by the Rich family – The Nicole and Jessica Rich Foundation

I have written about the Rich family before and they are incredible. For support and information if you have just entered the Batten’s world, Gail is a fountain of knowledge.

Izabela’s story is out in Bella now.

What happened to Natalie is unfathomable. You may have read about her in the papers back on that fateful day and in the weeks and months that followed. We were a nation unable to believe her own partner, the father of her unborn child, could have done what he did.
But, he did. And that’s something Natalie had to come to terms with and move on from. In her incredible book, Still Standing, she goes into more detail about the relationship, the attack and what happened next. It’s written with raw honesty and I highly recommend it.

Natalie is a powerhouse – since recovering from her injuries she has become something of a Wonder Woman, taking part in all sorts of challenges and adventures to raise money for the Midland Air Ambulance.

Here she is in Closer magazine, out today.

For Annette, Sheila and Gemini, dance is life! It was wonderful to write about three women who have found happiness through their dancing shoes. With the new series of Strictly hitting screens this week, what a perfect time to celebrate these gorgeous women.

 

Out now in Best!

Awwwww I love this family! Beautiful Maria and her beautiful children. Maria suffers from endometriosis and could not conceive again after the birth of her first child, Eleanor. She longed for a big, loud, happy family… Years went by and she booked in for a hysterectomy, ready to admit that it was not to be.

But then… along came Joseph. Joe has Down’s syndrome and in a stroke of fluke, luck and joy, so does his little sister – another surprise baby for the parents who thought they could not conceive!
Happy Families – just look at those smiles. Out now in Bella.

This is a story of love, loss, hope and the happiest of endings in the wake of the saddest of times. Angeleen is an absolute delight. She knew that she and Chris would make perfect parents. After a brain tumour cruelly took his life too soon, she decided to have IVF with his sperm, creating two beautiful children.

The story was in the Mirror yesterday – read it online here. 

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes took a group of people with varying forms of dementia and gave them the opportunity to work in a restaurant – the results are on 4od now. It’s a great concept for a show and an experiment – incredible people have been written off as incapable of working but the show asks what happens if you give people responsibility again?

Lorayne was one of the participants and has early onset frontotemporal dementia. Here she tells her story in Best and it was wonderful to work with her. Lorayne has lost none of her wit, strength or courage.
The title refers to the film Still Alice, which is a devastating but poignant watch. Lorayne’s story is out now in Best.

This isn’t an easy read, but it’s poignant and beautiful and Jon’s attitude towards the double tragedy he and wife Vikki faced is utterly gorgeous. Because he’s glad he had the little time he had with his twin sons. He’s grateful to the medical team who tried to save their lives, the friends he made while living in the worst possible circumstances, the kindness of those who helped his family during their time of need. It’s these things he focuses on – what a wonderful man he is.

Daughter Cecily Hope was born just a few weeks ago, making this coming Father’s Day both a happy and a sad one for Jon. Read his story in Best now…

Jon was supported by Ronald McDonald House Charities, a home away from home for families in his position. Find out more at www.rmhc.org.uk

 

It was such an honour to work with Svetlana on her memories of Chernobyl – and a real inspiration to hear her thoughts and musings on how not to live in the shadow of such a terrifying and traumatic experience.

The chernobyl nuclear disaster shook the world and although I’ve always known vaguely what happened, interviewing Svetlana gave me insight into what really happened. It makes for a harrowing yet inspiring read – out now in Best.