Last Saturday night I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of attending my very first Ostomy / IBD event since arriving in the UK! The Purple Wings Charity hosted a Christmas dinner in Bourton on the Water, a fairy-tale little town in the Cotswolds.
For those of you who don’t know about Purple Wings Charity , their vision is “helping sufferers of IBD with ostomies regain confidence and self-esteem”.
Purple Wings Charity offer ‘Time for Me’ grants, used to create personalised experiences that can be the just needed pick me up and confidence booster after going through major surgery. Lauren and her team are passionate about building a relationship with the person applying for the grant, and looking at each person’s individual circumstances and what they need the most, whether that be some ‘me’ time, quality time with their partner, a fun outing with their children, or something to boost esteem. This could be anything from a spa day to an adventure experience, photo shoot, family day out or romantic meal with loved ones. It’s all tailored to the ostomate’s individual needs, focusing on the “things you CAN do, rather than the negatives”, and helping prove “you can live not just exist with a stoma” and “you are still YOU and YOU are pretty awesome”! How fantastic is that?!
The Christmas dinner was a small and friendly affair. James was our host for the night at the beautiful little riverside Kingsbridge pub. It might have been chilly and wet outside, but inside, being surrounded by a lovely bunch of people, and fun and festive atmosphere kept us cosy and warm (the mulled wine might have helped a bit too)!
There was a delicious 3 course meal of soup, traditional roast Turkey with all the trimmings, and a delectable caramel cheese cake. I ordered one of the special cocktails created especially for the night, of which a portion of the takings went to Purple Wings. We even had a live band, a raffle, and you could purchase lots of great PWC merchandise (I got a pin, wrist band and calendar) with all proceeds going to the charity.
I had the honour of meeting some incredible people!
Lauren Henderson, founder of Purple Wings, with a heart of gold whose smile lights up the room. I loved chatting to Lauren about why and how she started the charity, and hearing the personal stories of some of the grant recipients. More importantly, the heart-warming stories of thanks and longer term gains for people recovering from ostomy surgery aided by the grants. Lauren really gives PWC a personalised touch, and you can see the joy she gets from her work and relationships through the charity, which is pretty special.
I was super excited to meet Stephie Simpson, who I’d connected with from Australia via her @little_ladyandme Instagram account and blog Colitis to Ostomy. We’ve been chatting online for months, and it was so nice to meet in person and make my first UK ostomy buddy! She is just as gorgeous in real life! We had a lovely chat with Stephie and her husband Steven over dinner. Thanks for all the tips guys, and I’m glad Michael and Steven have Xbox gaming in common!
Sexy Steve (aka Mr October!). I didn’t get much of a chance to chat with Steve this time, but managed to get a cheeky photo with him! If you haven’t already bought one of the PWC 2017 calendars, get online and order one now!! As well as sexy Steve, there are lots of other guys who all scrub up pretty nicely – check them out! Which is your favourite month?! Steve says that doing the shoot for the calendar was an awesome experience where he met some inspirational lads and gained lots of confidence. Love your work Steve!
Stephie gave me the fantastic idea of buying a calendar as a Christmas present for my stoma nurse back home, so she is in for a nice Christmas surprise when the post arrives in Sydney 😉
Big thanks again to Lauren and James for hosting the Purple Wings Charity Christmas dinner. It was a fab night enjoyed by everyone who came along. For those that missed out, keep an eye out for more Purple Wings Charity events in 2017 including the ladies pin up photo shoot and pamper day in March, and the annual ball on 22 July. I hope to see you there!
To apply for a grant, buy merchandise, get involved in fundraising or to find out more, visit the Purple Wings Charity website: http://www.purplewingscharity.com/