Thursday, 14 October 2010

Helping the Treehouse Appeal for a new children's hospice: Ashes-to-Ashes script up for auction

This week I had the overwhelming experience of visiting our local children's hospice in Ipswich. It was their open day and as you can expect, I didn't leave without a tear in my eye.  None of us ever want to face the prospect of our children dying and visiting a place where this is a reality can't help but tug at the heartstrings.

Don't get me wrong, the hospice which is run by EACH isn't a sad place.  The atmosphere in the converted bungalow was indeed a happy one and the positivity of the staff shone through as they told us how the hospice is used for short respite breaks, specialist play activities, music therapy and end-of-life care and treatment.  As well as helping the children who have life-threatening conditions, the team also supports their parents and siblings through counselling services.  It also organises fun activities and events where family members can meet families in the hospice's care.

For the children, the hospice is a fun place to be and staff make it feel homely, with a dining room, living room, bedrooms and a beautiful garden.  However, it is clear that they don't have enough space. The music room doubles up as the parents' bedroom, the sensory room is also used as a bedroom and most of the rooms in the house also have to serve as meeting space.  More importantly, when a child visits the hospice for end-of-life care, all other on-site services have to be put on hold.  Although families understand, this isn't how it should be.

Thanks to an amazing fundraising campaign, which is supported by BBC Radio Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times, EACH is now well on their way to raising the money needed to help the Ipswich hospice move into a new larger home.  Launched this year, the campaign known as the Treehouse Appeal has already raised £1.5million.  However, it needs to raise the same amount again to pay for a purpose built hospice that will give them everything the children and families need.

It has been a fabulous campaign, which has inspired people all across East Anglia to take part in parachute jumps, organise fundraising events, enter sponsored walks, runs and bike rides.  One of the Radio Suffolk presenters, Lesley Dolphin, is even attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

I must admit that with all this physical exercise going on, I am feeling a bit guilty that I haven't yet got off my backside to exert my muscles.

However, what I have done is somehow managed to blag a rare signed script for the last ever episode of the Ashes-to-Ashes series, featuring signatures from Philip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and all the regular cast.

And I'm very excited as this is being auctioned at BBC Radio Suffolk, live on air tomorrow morning, where the winning bid will be donated to the Treehouse Appeal.

Of course, it would be great if this could raise as much funds as possible, so do please tell any fans you might know and ask them to listen to the James Hazell Show from 9.00 Friday morning, when the auction is going to be launched by none other than Philip Glenister who played DCI Gene Hunt.  Even if you're outside Suffolk, you can still listen in online at  Anyone wishing to place a bid should call the studio on 01473 212121.

I can't wait to find out how much the script raises and if it beats my expectations, I'll probably be so excited that I'll dress up as Father Christmas and join in this year's Santa Run.

This is such a worthwhile cause and more information about the Treehouse Appeal and how else you can help can be found at the project's fundraising page:


1/11/2010...Apologies for the belated updated, but I'm pleased to share the news that the script auction raised a MASSIVE £750 thanks to the fabulous enthusiasm and media magic of James Hazell and Philip Glenister.  It really was amazing!

Monday, 11 October 2010

My cavity wall insulation is still debatable

Really how blimmin' hard is it to work out if you've got cavity wall insulation?

Having avoided it for years for fear of having to tidy all the rooms in the house - not realising of course that they're insulated from the outside - I only started to look into it last week as part of my ASAP pledge. And although I'd rather be doing far more exciting things like the washing up, I'm on a mission to get this thing sorted.  After all, according to the Energy Saving Trust around 30% of heating can be be lost through the walls of an uninsulated home, so it's well worth the effort!

But before I decided to bother a company that specialises in such matters I thought I'd call our housebuilder to enquire whether they'd installed cavity wall insulation when they built the house seven years ago. Of course, I might have remembered myself if I hadn't been too busy at the time counting the number of halogen ceiling lights we wanted to have fitted in the new build.

"I don't know." said the man at the end of the phone when I called the Taylor Wimpey office.

"Can you find out?" I replied.

"Yes, we'll ring you back." came the uninterested reply.

That was two weeks ago and I haven't heard anything since. I rang again last week, spoke to someone else and got the same reply.  How can it have taken so long for a housebuilder to find the answer? Surely even a computer could say Yes or No. They must have known at the time, whether through policy or building regulations.

I feel like I've hit a brick wall.

However, this is only a small brick wall compared to some that others have faced recently.  While I'm busy debating whether I've got cavity wall insulation, a friend of mine who pitched a sustainable programme idea to a national broadcaster found herself being told by a defiant commissioning editor that "Climate change is debatable".

Now that's some brick wall indeed.   As a non-expert on these matters, I simply hope that those who say it is debatable actually use it to open a debate rather than close it.

But for now I'm looking at the smaller picture at home and knowing that cavity wall insulation save us fuel usage and money, well that has to be a winning strategy all round.   And after avoiding it for months, I'm now more determined than ever to get it sorted, even if it comes to drilling a hole in the wall.

Now where did I put that drill....