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Forget-Me-Not

Our bereavement support group was held last month and was such a lovely morning. We had an amazing breakfast platter from Brie Mine U.K. which was thoroughly enjoyed, (thank you Lauren for doing a fantastic job).

The session was kindly run by Neil from My Colourful Memories CIC and included group flower making which prompted lots of interactive conversations resulting in excellent feedback being received.

These groups are not ‘sad’ groups, we laugh, we talk about our children and we share our experiences and coping mechanisms. Only those who have lost a child will understand the devastation of living without a child, and that is why this group is not only unique, but also essential for parents/grandparents and siblings wanting to connect with those who walk the same path.

For those who regularly attend we are able to provide specialised one-to-one bereavement counselling with our fully qualified and registered Counsellor, if needed. This takes place in our specially adapted ‘quiet room’ within our unit at Great Harwood.

Our groups are and always will be completely free to attend, just drop us a message or email to let us know you are coming and we will be ready to welcome you.

Our next session is Sunday 25 August.

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900th Bag arrives on Ward 86

Manchester was our destination this week, when we took a delivery to Ward 86, at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. We are so very proud that with today’s delivery we have now provided 900 Milly Bags, since we began supporting the ward in March 2016.

We will always wish that there was no need for our bags, but sadly there will always be a need.

Milly Bags are the bags that no parent ever wants to receive but when they do, they are always extremely grateful.

It is and always will be a huge privilege to support children and their families during one of the most frightening periods of their lives.

We know that none of this would be possible without the support of so many people who donate, fundraise and volunteer for us. This is a massive community and team effort, and we thank every single person who supports us.

An extra thank you to Graeme and John for taking the delivery and doing a great job as always.

We send love, strength and understanding to all the families who have had a Milly Bag in the past and to all the families who sadly will receive a bag in the future.

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Mayor and Mayoress raise £5,000 for Milly’s Smiles

During their 12 months in office, the Mayor and Mayoress of Hyndburn, Councillor Terry Hurn and his lovely wife Jean have been tirelessly fundraising for a number of amazing charities and good causes. Funds have been raised throughout the year by holding various events, including the Mayors Ball which saw more than £15,000 being raised on the night.

We were thrilled to be invited along to a cheque presentation recently at Haworth Art Gallery, where we were presented with a cheque for £5,000. It was such a lovely afternoon where we also got to to meet all the other charities and good causes.

A huge thank you to Terry and Jean who have been wonderful to us throughout their year, they have attended our events and supported us in so many ways, it has been a pleasure and honour to be part of their mayoral year.

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Thank you to Napthens LLP

A huge thank you to local firm @Napthens LLP who recently invited us to meet them for a cheque presentation. We were absolutely thrilled to be presented with a cheque for £1,000.

This was such a lovely surprise for us we never take donations for granted and every single penny is very gratefully received. The money will go towards supporting children who are newly diagnosed with cancer and admitted into hospital.

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Olivia’s Charity Football Match

In March of this year I received a lovely email from a lady called Natalie, she told me that she was part of a local fundraising team consisting of herself, her husband, Simon, and two friends, Tom and Martin. Together they were in the process of arranging a charity football match for the third year running. The match is named in honour of a local young girl, Olivia, who sadly passed away in 2021.

Natalie said they would like to raise funds for Milly’s Smiles this year, as we have recently supported their friends son Thomas, when he was transferred to The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in April last year, aged 6, following a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. It was on Ward 86 that Thomas received his Milly’s Smiles bag, which his parents say was a total god send.

The day of the Charity Football Match was beautiful, so many people came together to make the day a huge success. There was so much going on throughout the day and Thomas and his sister Lucy made £250 from selling bracelets that they had be making specially with their friends.

The total amount of money raised from the event was a huge £8707.24! Way beyond anything that we ever expected, and pure testament to the amount of hard work put in by everyone involved.

Alongside all the money raised, the team have also got a collection of over 400 toiletry items for us. We are really looking forward to meeting up with them later in the month to be able to thank them in person for all their support.

A special mention goes out to Olivia and her brave parents, there are never any words that can ease the pain associated with the loss of a child. Bravery is measured in many ways, but for me, parents who continue to live their lives without their precious child are amongst the bravest people to walk the earth. When that is combined with making a difference to other people in memory of their child, then that becomes something very special indeed.

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Spring Fair a huge success!

Some days you just know you will remember for ever, and the day of our Spring Fair was most defiantly one of them!

Together with Great Harwood Rovers FC we have been planning this event for around 8 months and we had high hopes of putting on a fantastic day for the lovely people of Great Harwood and beyond, whilst also raising some money for Milly’s Smiles.

We enlisted support from volunteers who all very quickly came on board with very little persuasion, all of them happy to work alongside us to do as much as they could to help.

As the day drew closer the weather became one of our biggest worries – there was so much rain every single day and there didn’t seem to be any respite in sight!

Our second biggest worry that if the rain didn’t stop would anyone actually come on the day!

However, our worries were instantly quashed on the morning of the fair, when we woke up and saw the sun was beaming down on us, this went on to last throughout the entire day too.

The Fair was spectacularly opened by the Town Cryer, Rawden Kerr who did a fantastic cry encouraging people to spend their money! He told me later that he realised a huge ambition that day, when he got to have a parrot on his shoulders! Apparently children regularly ask him if he is a pirate, so he very much felt in character having a parrot sat on his shoulder!

We had the Mayor and his lovely Mayoress present, Councillor Terry Hurn and his wife Jean, who are always such a joy to have around, and who have been an amazing support to Milly’s Smiles during their year of office. We were also joined by our MP Sara Britcliffe as well as our local councillors for the borough.

The crowds certainly came too, we had over 2000 visitors which was way beyond our expectations, and it was wonderful to see every one enjoying the stalls, food, football and attractions.

We have to thank every single one of our amazing volunteers and helpers they all went well and truly above and beyond in their support yesterday, no job was too small or too large for them, and we really could not have managed without them.

Massive thank you also goes to the awesome team at Imperial Alliance, their Stormtroopers were just incredible and coped with the heat so well. Everyone loved them!

We are always so well supported by the local fire brigade and police for which we will always be so grateful. The did a fabulous job engaging with all the visitors on the day, and the children were thrilled to be able to sit in the fire engine and police car.

Also joining us were a team from Avidly UK (we are their charity for the year) they too were unwavering with their support and worked so hard through out the day for us.

It was so fabulous to see all the stall holders and food vendors too, I was blown away with the quality of products and how lovely everyone was. There was certainly so many fantastic bargains and unique gifts to be had.

Helen at Lancashire Dog Company, worked extremely hard on our dog show, which was truly a credit to her. The show ran so smoothly and it was wonderful to see all the dogs with their owners – the fancy dress was a massive hit, huge congratulations to Crueall DeVille on winning first prize!

We were very fortunate to have ex Blackburn Rovers player Tommy Spur kindly come and play football for GHRFC, he did a sterling job but unfortunately the team did not win and were pipped at the post by Clitheroe U23’s.

The day was a massive success and worth all the painstaking hours spent planning and organising. Together with Great Harwood Rovers FC we made a fantastic team, and judging from the feedback we received from visitors, stall holders etc the day was amazing and please could we do it again next year!

I have to mention my Milly, the day in its entirety was for her, to continue to keep her beautiful memory alive and to raise money to support children and families who are unknowingly going to embark on a similar journey to the one Milly and I experienced.

Milly is missed beyond any words that I can articulate but she is kept in everyone’s hearts because of all the work we do and the phenomenal support we receive from you all.

We are still waiting for some monies to come in but we are looking to have raised just under £4,000 which is way beyond our expectations. Thank you to every single person involved, we feel very lucky and blessed with all the support.

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3 hour Danceathon raises over £1,700!

Earlier this month, the very lovely Jess at Jess B Panache Dancefitness organised a mammoth 3 hour danceathon!

What an event! It was the hottest day of the year so far and over 40 people came together to dance their hearts out for Milly’s Smiles.

The afternoon was a truly incredible, filled with fun, laughter and lots of energy! The instructors; Alex, Andrea, Jan and Jess were outstanding, they made it so much fun and there really was something for everyone.

All participants received a goody bag and a Milly’s Smiles Danceathon T-Shirt, which was very quickly modelled by everyone!

A total of just over £1700 was raised on the day, which is wonderful. A huge thank you to all the participants, to everyone who donated raffle prizes, and most of all to the wonderful instructors who worked their socks off to ensure we had a fantastic afternoon.

Jess’s classes are every Wednesday at 6.30pm-7.30pm at All Saints School, Clayton le Moors.

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Team Avidly pack Milly Bags for Ward 3B

Last week we had a brilliant afternoon with a second team from Avidly UK & Canada who came along to do some bag packing.

They made a total of 51 Milly Bags during their visit – 20 of which were delivered to Ward 3B at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital the very next day!

A huge thank you to the bag packing team who were just brilliant, and a massive thank you to Graeme for delivering the bags safely.

As always we send our love to all the children and families who will receive a Milly Bag in the future.

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SJP Charitable Foundation donates £2,000

Milly’s Smiles have very kindly been awarded a grant of £2,000 from the SJP Charitable Foundation, which is all down to meeting Financial Adviser Toby, at a Padiham Networking Group (Padiham Bang) around 12 months ago.

Toby recommended us to apply for the grant and we were absolutely thrilled to be successful with our application. It is wonderful that the foundation are able to help support our continuing work with children newly diagnosed with cancer.

The SJP Charitable Foundation was set up in 1992 with the aim to support local charities and a way of Advisers and Employees giving back to their local communities. To this date, the Foundation has raised over £120 million pounds.

Huge thank you to Toby and SJP Charitable Foundation, this means so much to us, and we are extremely grateful for this support.

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L31 at Leeds receive a further delivery of Milly Bags

Earlier last month Graeme and I headed over the Pennines to Leeds Children’s Hospital. The weather was terrible with heavy rain, strong winds and then diversions all around the city – but thanks to Graeme’s good driving and navigation skills we eventually made it to the ward.

It was lovely to see Elaine waiting for us with her trolley ready. Elaine looks after our Milly Bags and makes sure that every new admission is given their bag upon their arrival onto the ward.

Elaine also collects feedback from the families, which we love to receive. We read every single note and if there is anything we can do to improve we will always do so.

One example is changing the sweets in our bags from jelly babies to fruit pastels. We were advised by a family that the jelly babies were not suitable for everyone due to not being vegan friendly, this was not something that we had considered, and so were very grateful to have this bought to our attention. From that point all jelly babies were changed to fruit pastels, which means they can be enjoyed by everyone.

Below is one of the lovely feedback notes we received during this delivery:

“Thank you for the Milly’s Bag, coming to hospital was not planned and as it was our first time being here, everything was overwhelming. To get the Milly Bag felt like someone cared and understood what we were going through. The toiletries have been really handy and the blanket much cosier than hospital blankets – thank you so much”.

We are so proud and humbled to be able to make such a difference every single day.