Help Me Help More Brave, Sick Children Like Maddison

Happy Friday everyone! 

It’s finally spring time in London – and that means it’s time once again for the London Marathon :-). 
Do you get deeply moved by stories of brave, sick children?

And then are you moved to help them in some way?

Today I am going to share the incredible and moving story of Maddison. 

You will then understand and appreciate exactly why I am taking part in the London Marathon.

On this coming Sunday 28th April, I’ll be lining up with over 41,000 other runners and each one of us will be raising awareness and sponsorship for their chosen cause.

I have chosen Well-Child, a charity that helps look after sick children like Maddison.

Some friends have been asking me why I am so passionate about WellChild and why I am taking part in the London Marathon for them once again.

Well, this is my way of contributing and making a difference to children. And you too can do your bit by sponsoring me.

Click here to go to my sponsorship page

Your contribution will be helping Maddison and other brave children like her.

(I have been given permission by WellChild to share Maddison’s incredibly inspiring and moving story).

Here is Maddison’s story:-

Maddison was born in August 2008, full term, at a healthy weight and apparently with no problems at all. Shortly after she was born, she was diagnosed with talipes (club foot) but her parents were reassured that this was an orthopaedic problem, which could be resolved with physiotherapy and possibly surgery.

Then Maddison’s Mum, Lidia, started to notice other things about Maddison, which were a little concerning. Maddison had a very feeble cry and didn’t seem to be moving her toes, stretching her feet properly or demonstrating a walking reflex.

Shortly after Christmas 2008 when Maddison was only a few months old, she contracted Respiratory Syncytial Virus and needed to be admitted to hospital for oxygen and a feed tube.

After a few weeks, although much better, her breathing still didn’t seem right and in February, doctors told her parents that they had discovered an abnormality with Maddison’s diaphragm, which they believed could be rectified with surgery.

Over the next few months Maddison remained in hospital. Throughout this time, although clinically still very poorly, Maddison caused confusion by her cheerful disposition and ability to thrive despite being in and out of intensive care. 

Therefore on May 20th  2009, it came as a dreadful shock to Lidia and Jamie when they were given a diagnosis of SMARD (spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress) for Maddison.

Support from WellChild:-

Over the last few years Maddison has continued to thrive and exceed all expectations. She overcame concerns that mainstream school might be too much for her, attending along with all her peers and keeping up her stamina.

Since then she has been able to eat without a feeding tube and even has up to three hours a day off her ventilator. Maddison is doing well at school and she can propel herself independently using her special walking frame.

Maddison still needs 24/7 specialist care and the support of her ventilator is crucial.

WellChild Children’s Nurse, Rachel provides vital support for Maddison and her family in ensuring that any concerns with equipment, training for new carers or worries over Maddison’s breathing are addressed swiftly.

Rachel liaises with Maddison’s school and carers, rushes over with a replacement ventilator when Maddison’s equipment shows signs of malfunctioning and provides constant expert reassurance to the whole family.

This continuous monitoring, specialist advice and ability to intervene really quickly can make the difference between Maddison having to go to hospital or staying at home.

Maddison has proven that if she’s given the chance, through the medical and other support she receives, she can thrive and get the most out of life just like her siblings and her school friends.

So there you are – my participation in the London Marathon and your sponsorship will help provide more nursing support for children like Maddison.

My target is to raise at least £1,600 and more for WellChild.

Please help me get there! 

Click here to go to my sponsorship page

If just 160 people sponsor me for at least £10 each, I’ll reach my target easily.

Thanks everyone for your kindness and generosity.

And look out for me on Sunday at the London Marathon – I shall be wearig my famous Red Wig! 

The Ultimate 40 Love Posts For Valentine’s Day and Every Day

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Is it a time of the year you enjoy or dread?

Today, I am writing a post with a difference. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I am bringing you some of the best blog posts from around the blogosphere, including some of my own previous articles.

Valentine’s Day is a fun and loving day for many people and there are so many wonderful blog posts out there about all aspects of relationships. I have searched high and wide and these are in my opinion some of the best wisdom you can get, no matter where you are in your relationship.

I am proud to know a lot of these prominent bloggers as friends and it is a privilege for me to share their work with you.

Do take your time reading through these articles, bookmark this post and come back to it again and again as you create a wonderful and happy relationship.

[Read more…]

7 Harmful Things to Finally Stop Doing This Year: Make It Your Best Year Ever

Happy New Year everyone!

Trust you had a wonderful festive time and New Year celebration with your loved ones.

As we now get into this New Year, here’s possibly the most important question you can answer this year:-

Just HOW will you make this New Year a Happy Year?

The key word we use to greet each other at this time of the year is “Happy”. As we move away from the old and bring in the new, we expect things to somehow magically be different and better on the other side of the New Year fireworks.

As you know, life is not like that!

You and I have to consciously make it happen so that things are magically different and better in the New Year. The MAGIC comes from us – through our clear intentions, effort and focus.

And the important question is this – how will YOU make this year your best year ever?

[Read more…]

8 Smart Ways To Make This Christmas Your Best Ever

Christmas Lights

Is Christmas a joyous time for you? Or are you stressed?

Around Christmas time, overspending on presents, pressure from kids and other loved ones, prolonged and close proximity to difficult family members and loneliness can all build up your stress levels.

Christmas can also be very demanding on your relationship as you spend a lot of time together with your immediate family and perhaps your extended family and even the in-laws.

However, it doesn’t have to be so.

Christmas is meant to be fun and joyous!

This year take charge and make it work for you.

Make this Christmas the best ever for you and the family.

Sit down right now for half an hour and decide for yourself what YOU can do this year to make it so.

Here are my tips for making this Christmas your best ever:-

[Read more…]

Why the Loss of a Loved One is Not the End of the World: How to Start Living Again

grieving man

Exactly 10 years ago in December 2007, I suddenly lost my father in the middle of the night. And it took me a long time to get over my grief. This is the story of my journey of pain and recovery.

My phone rang in the middle of a cold December night.

I woke up with a jerk. Annoyed that I had forgotten to switch off my phone.

But as soon as I looked at the phone and saw that it was my mother calling, I knew it was tragic news.

My mother was hysterical. My father had just died. He was no longer with us.

My life was never the same again.

What’s the most excruciating pain you have ever felt in your life?

I don’t mean physical pain, but the pain of the loss of a loved one. And how did you even get through?

It is now almost 10 years since I got through the most excruciatingly painful time of my life when my father suddenly passed away in the middle of that fateful December night.

He had a massive heart attack and passed away in the presence of my mother — they had been together for 54 years.

It was a crushingly traumatic period in my life.

Only 6 months before my father died, my best friend had passed away through suicide.

It felt that the whole world was against me — and that I would never get through this torture and pain.

I kept thinking — why me?

Is Death and Grief All Around Us?

[Read more…]

How to Master the Art of Saying Thank You

Master the Art of Saying Thank You

Do you say “thank you” like you mean it or do you just say it casually and almost apologetically?

And when you thank someone, just how appreciative are you really being?

Today, 11th January 2017 is International Thank You Day!

So firstly, thank you for being in my life and for reading my blog posts :-).

There is an art of saying thank you and mastering this one skill will instantly make your day to day interactions with people deeper and richer.

The key is very simple – you really have to mean it when you say thank you!

People get it when you genuinely mean something and also when you are just going through the motions.

Put yourself on the receiving end of being thanked – I bet you remember well the few times when someone has truly shown their appreciation.

I shall always remember the day when I invited a new friend for dinner and she asked if she could bring something – I simply suggested she brought a huge appetite.

She turned up laden with gifts – a thank you card, flowers, a bottle of wine and something for dessert! It was so thoughtful and unexpected; to this day I still share her story like I am doing right now.

The most beautiful thing about truly thanking someone and expressing your gratitude is that it creates a deeper and instant bond between people.

[Read more…]

Happy Thanksgiving Day – Time to Celebrate our Challenges!


Happy Thanksgiving Day everyone!

Well, a lot has happened in the world over the last few weeks. Just what is the world coming to!?

If you look around, the world faces umpteen challenges today and it’s really time for us to rise to the challenge and make it happen for a better world for all us. At the same time we have to make the most of our own lives and make the most of what we all have.

Even at a personal level we all face so many challenges. Right now I have dear friends who are going through a painful divorce whilst a very close coaching friend is going through her last days after a serious illness and is now in palliative care in New York,

Of course it is not how or when you die, but ultimately what matters is how you lived your life – and the legacy you created.

Life is so precious and it breaks my heart every time I hear of the killings and atrocities that happen every day in the name of religion, politics etc.

Right now the world is a very different place compared to last Thanksgiving Day with the Brexit outcome and the USA election.

A while back, a blog reader emailed me directly to challenge my way of looking at the world through “rose-tinted glasses”.

Well, as I replied to him, I am happy to see the world the way I see it. Of course it’s not about being blind to reality, but choosing to see how things can be different and in a way which uplifts and benefits everyone.

So yes, I for one am happy to be upbeat about our humanity and our potential to solve the huge problems we face today.  There are so many inspirational people who are striving to change to things for the better – and their number is growing.


I am always inspired and filled with hope when I learn of all the good things happening in the world. For example, Nirvana School in Pondicherry, South India, is going from strength to strength with over 500 children now receiving a good education and being well cared for.

These children may not have much in material terms, they have so much more to offer us and teach us.

And yet we in the West who have a lot to be thankful for so often take life and all our goodness for granted.

We all have deep within us this calling and a capacity to help others, to make a difference in some way and to make ourselves count.

So my invitation to you on this Thanksgiving Day is to remember to be grateful for all that you have – and to strive for something bigger than you.

Check out my tips on how to live with an attitude of gratitude

No matter what, celebrate your challenges too!

Also, a while ago, I wrote 5 special articles for this week of Thanksgiving. So to help you celebrate and appreciate all that you have to be thankful for, check out all 5 articles about this special time.

Thanksgiving Lesson 1 – How To Embrace What You Already Have

Thanksgiving Lesson 2 – How To Let Yourself Give and Receive

Thanksgiving Lesson 3 – How To Add a Little Sizzle to Your Relationships

Thanksgiving Lesson 4 – How to Harvest the Wisdom from my Blogger Friends

Thanksgiving Lesson 5 – How to Serve Others at the Global Table

Thanks everyone!

PS As I said, please remember that no matter what challenges you may be facing in your life we all have so much to be grateful for. 🙂

Life is short. Cherish this moment. Treasure this memory. Celebrate this life…



The Power of Giving – and Why I Always Carry a Banana


How friendly are you to strangers? Do you reach out to new people you meet or do you hold back?

Over the years I have learnt to take each person at face value and try not to judge them in any way. Friends often comment on how easily I connect with people and how effortlessly I seem to make friends wherever I go. Maybe it’s a gift, maybe it’s just my way of being – but whatever it is, the results are often magical.

Talking to strangers I meet has led to some great friendships as well as many life lessons.

I have had 2 such experiences with homeless people in London which left me moved to tears on both occasions and reminded me once again of the power of giving and receiving.

In London where I live, there are more and more homeless people, many of whom have to resort to begging, whilst others sell the “Big Issue” magazine which helps the homeless create an income and ultimately aims to get them off the street.

I met one such Big Issue seller outside my local train station – he proudly told me that his full name was Christopher Patrick McCormack. We struck up a friendship and we had a repartee going – every time I saw him I called him by his full name – and he would call me by my full name.

[Read more…]

Friends & Friend’s Friends Picnic 2016 (Year 15!)


It’s time for my annual picnic in Regents Park!

Called “Friends & Friend’s Friends Picnic“, it is held every year – and this is YEAR 15!!!

This year it is to be held on Sunday, 31st July 2016.

(Post-picnic update – This year’s picnic was phenomenal with around 500+ people attending during the course of the day! You can see all the photos here on Facebook – Friends and Friend’s Friends Picnic #15“).

14 years ago, I had a vision of bringing people together in community in a spirit of fun and contribution – and so I invited all the people in my life to a picnic. And I asked them to invite all their friends too.

So my “Friends & Friend’s Friends Picnic” was born!

With all that’s going on in the world right now, I believe that it’s imperative that we come together as a people as much as possible – and what better way to meet and create new friendships than in a gorgeous setting and with a fun, friendly vibe?

“Far more unites us than divides us” – Jo Cox


History of the Friends and Friend’s Friends Picnic

I first had the idea of the Friends and Friend’s Friends Picnic in summer 2002 when I wanted to bring together people from my family, my friends and the communities that I was part of.

Rather than inviting everyone out on different days, I asked them all to join me for a picnic in Regents Park – and to also invite their friends and ask them to invite their friends.

I had a few friends comment on how easily I was able to connect and make new friends – it was like magic to them!

So I wanted to introduce all my London friends to each other – and bring strangers together in a spirit of community and friendship in London where people seem to live in isolation and everyone is so busy.

That first year, around 60 people came, despite it being a cold and rainy Sunday in June – and the Friends and Friends Friends Picnic was born.

I chose Regents Park because I live nearby but mainly because to me it is the nicest park in London and offers so many activities for my picnic attendees.

The following year over 100 people came with some relatives coming from as far away as Coventry, Birmingham, and Brighton.
That second year I started the tradition of African drumming and dancing and that theme has continued ever since with some years over 20 drummers in full flow!

The picnic grew every year – and in the last few years we have had over 400 people attending – and it’s getting bigger every year!


The picnic has now become a fixed highlight in many people’s social calendars and I now usually hold it end of July or early August. Experience has taught me that that is the most popular time for people and also when we are most likely to get reasonable weather.

One year it rained so heavily that we all had to shelter under the trees for almost an hour. Despite the wetness, over 50 hardy party animals stayed till dusk.

I now usually get 200 to 300 people attending every year – and in August 2015 we had our biggest picnic ever with over 400 people attending in the course of the day.

We now have even more fun activities such as laughter yoga sessions, Bollywood dancing, hula hooping, friendly football matches and the perennial favourite – African drumming.

A lot of new friendships have started as a result of the picnic – 3 years ago a good friend of mine landed a key job in television directly as a result of someone she met at the picnic who then recommended her to a job.

Best of all, a few months ago we had our first ever picnic baby! A couple of who first met at the picnic in July 2013 started dating soon after and recently became proud parents of baby Lyra.

2016 Picnic Details

Here is the Facebook event page for this year’s picnic:-

It’s actually a very simple concept.

The idea is to get a lot of friends and their friends together. I invite all my friends and they invite all their friends and they invite their friends and so on……and before we know, there will be 100’s of friends, new and old, having a lot of fun.

Everyone is invited to bring their own food and drinks plus some extra to share. We will also be playing Frisbee, frisbee etc for fun, so bring those trainers and sports gear. And of course children are most welcome. If you haven’t got any, borrow some for the day 🙂

I’ll bring my giant Hula Hoops so it should be entertaining watching some people have a go!

We’ll also have some Laughter Yoga, Bollywood dancing and African Drumming.

There are lots of things you can do in Regents Park. There is boating on the lake, heronry and waterfowl collections to visit, and of course the world famous Rose garden.

drumming at picnic 2004 in Regents Park

We will also be having some African drumming and singing. Bring along any musical instrument that you would like to play.

This year we’ll have some Laughter Yoga, Bollywood Dancing and some kick-boxing lessons.

Check out the picnic photos from 2015!

Please note that this picnic will be happening no matter what the weather is like on the day!

A hot and sunny day is forecast for Sunday so it should be a great day out for all of us.

The details are as follows:-

Date: Sunday 31st July 2016

Time: 1pm till 9pm

Location: Regents Park at the London Mosque end. Use the Mosque as your landmark, as its minaret is visible from almost anywhere else in the park.

picnic is at the spot marked X on bottom left corner


Enter the Park via Hanover Gate, turn left and you are there. You will see a children’s play area. The chosen picnic spot is the whole of this semi-circular area of grass and there is room for at least a 1000 people.

Parking – You must pay for parking within Regents Park even on Sundays till 6.30pm. Alternatively, you CAN park free on single yellow lines on Prince Albert Road, and around St Johns Wood High St.

Nearest Tube stations: – St Johns Wood and Baker Street

For further clarification, please call me on 07803 950 250. Keep this number with you on the day, in case you are lost. Remember that Regents Park is HUGE.

Please invite all your friends and ask them to invite their friends. And so on – this could be the start of something big.

You can also register on Facebook to confirm you are coming.

As I said, this is the 15th year running that I have organised this Friends and Friend’s Friends Picnic – but if you are not able to come to London for this picnic, then no matter where you are in the world, how about organising your own?

Check out my simple guide on how to hold your own picnic anywhere in the world 🙂

For further information and clarification, just contact me 🙂

Special Announcement

I am also pleased to announce that a very special person is joining us on Sunday, and I have a request for help from all of you.

When I held my very first “Friends and Friend’s Friends Picnic” 14 years ago to bring together all the people in my different communities, the idea was to celebrate life, connect people and also to contribute to these friends in some way.

So my annual picnic is totally aligned to the 3C’s which underpin my life – Contribution, Connection and Celebration.

On Sunday we will have a chance to contribute in a BIG way to Julie Cattermole, who is coming all the way from Leicester to London with her young children, to celebrate life – and also to spread news of her life-saving fund-raising:-

Please help my friend Harry Jata spread news of Julie’s fund-raising appeal to SAVE her life.

All donations and further fund-raising ideas are most welcome.

Let us make it a very special day for Julie next Sunday:-).

The Future

I am so pleased and proud too that my initial idea of bringing my family and close friends together for a day out in the park has become such a huge success and a key event in many people’s summer itinerary.

I now want to build on this even more and make it bigger and better with regular events through out the year in London and other cities around the world.

I really do believe that the challenges the world faced today can only be overcome if we can come together more in unity and with a sense of FUN, community and togetherness.

Let us make it happen so that more and more people come together in such events so that ultimately we get to see that we are all really the same – and our differences simply makes the world a more interesting and colourful place.

Help me bring more people together!

Thank you:-)

a fun day for young and old!

Life-Changing Love Wisdom for Every Day from Around the World


This is my 600th blog post!

To mark my 600th blog post, I could not have chosen a more appropriate topic for me – love.

And on Valentine’s Day too!

I looked around at many Facebook pages to get the best image quotes to share with you on this momentous day – and I found a real treasure trove for you all!

Firstly, what does the word love mean to you?

Does it evoke a vision of red roses, serenading in the park, moonlit walks and champagne?

In our world of glossy magazines and glitzy media, where we are constantly bombarded with images of the ideal, love struck and “perfect” couple, is it any wonder that the real meaning of love has been so diluted.

Love for some is about being starry eyed and going gaga over someone. The actual being in love becomes more important than ever truly loving someone.

Some people are even  in love with the idea of being in love! 

I have shared these words before on my blog and I make no excuse for sharing again these famous words from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (by Louis de Bernieres):-

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.

Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day.

That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those who truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from the branches they find that they are one tree and not two.”

The question is what will it take for you to be able to love like this?

And what will it take for the world to wake up to the true meaning of love?

Remember that you can have at least 23 top ways to be love today and every day, not just on Valentine’s Day.

So Just What is Love?

Love is the most amazing thing in our lives. It is what makes us human, what makes life worth living. Nothing else truly matters. The size of our homes, bank balances, the beauty of our spouse, the speed of our car – all these things pale into insignificance when we face the splendour of what it is that makes us tick.

Love does not make the world go around – it simply makes the ride worthwhile! [Read more…]