Otto’s Challenge

Otto Putland and his family

Otto Putland and his family

Otto Putland presented us with a cheque for £12,000, raised by swimming clubs around the country who have responded to his Otto’s Challenge. He has now raised £26,000 altogether, and has kept his initial promise to fund-raise for at least 17 months – the length of time that Laurie was having treatment. The Amateur Swimming Association has presented Otto with a “Swimtastic” award for outstanding achievement in the sport, and BBC Midlands Today ran another interview with him to mark this occasion.

Brimfield’s Got Talent

Zoe Collett (centre)

Zoe Collett (centre)

Zoe Collett is 15 and lives in Brimfield, a small village in north Herefordshire. She learned about Teenage Cancer Trust through a talk that was given at her school, Wigmore High School, and was so shocked to hear about the number of teenagers diagnosed with cancer – six every day in the UK – that she made up her mind to do something.

In the space of three weeks she organized a concert, called Brimfield’s Got Talent, in the village hall. It was a variety show, with 20 or so of Zoe’s friends and neighbours singing, dancing and doing comedy routines. At the end of the show Zoe spoke about TCT and appealed for generous donations, and then she and others performed ‘One Voice’.

Zoe has given the proceeds from the show – £1601.20 – to Laurie’s fund. An amazing achievement. We are hugely impressed by what Zoe did, and very grateful.

Great South Run

Monique and Vicky, damp in Portsmouth

Monique and Vicky, damp in Portsmouth

Monique Horne and Vicky Withers from Hereford, who read about Laurie in the Hereford Times and then read Matthew’s article in the Guardian, ran the Great South Run in Portsmouth for Laurie’s fund. Despite horrible wet windy weather they completed the 10-mile course in 1 hour 38 minutes, and raised £450 for the fund. Congratulations to both for a wonderful achievement.

Hay Festival 2007

Thanks to Laurie’s Fairfield High School friends who came along to shake collecting buckets after John Major’s appearance at the Festival. (Matthew was in the chair.) Nearly £500 was raised. Matthew’s own session, when he spoke about Extracts from the Red Notebooks, with the help of Christopher Douglas who expertly read the quotes, was very well attended, and we are grateful to Peter Florence, Festival director, for agreeing to donate all proceeds to the fund.

Laurie Engel Football Tournament, Michaelchurch Escley, 26 May

football2For the second year running the Escley Youth Club organized a five-a-side tournament for the Laurie Engel Trophy. More than forty of Laurie’s schoolfriends aged between 8 and 15 came along to take part, Steve Herington miraculously worked out the teams, Andy Manning refereed all 15 matches, Gareth Jones cooked the delicious barbecue and presided over the raffle, and Joy Jones served non-stop teas. The kids played their hearts out, and Matthew presented medals to the winning teams, kindly donated by the Starkey family.

fooball1Thanks to everyone who helped to make the tournament a success, including Tim and Helen Wood-Cole, to those who donated prizes and to local firms Mailes and Gwatkins who donated food for the barbecue. The amount raised was nearly £300, and as Matthew said it was the most appropriate birthday tribute to Laurie, who loved nothing more than playing football with his mates.

The Wisden Walk, May 19-28

Many many congratulations and thanks to Hugh Chevallier and Paul Coupar, Matthew’s colleagues at Wisden who set themselves the challenge of walking from their office in Hampshire to the Engels’ home in Herefordshire, arriving on 28 May. Here is Hugh’s account of their journey:

Hugh+PaulWe did it. We walked 150 miles from Hampshire to Herefordshire, from one Wisden office to another, in ten days. And we loved every single step of the way. OK, that last sentence is an exaggeration, but not much. We loved almost every step of the way, and especially the last ones down the drive to Fair Oak, our Herefordshire destination. There, on a glorious afternoon, we were greeted by Tony Engel, Laurie’s uncle, bearing a bottle of champagne and two glasses. It was a happy moment, though sad, too. It was Laurie’s 15th birthday. Or should have been.

endofwalkTo begin at the traditional British beginning, the weather was, well, traditionally British, with a bit of everything bar snow and ice. (Actually, I thought I detected a flake or two of sleet in the bitter northerly that drowned us the entire second Sunday, our ninth day.) Still, the bath that gently restored sensation to my extremities at the end of those 16 cold, wet miles was the best bath that anyone, anywhere, has ever had. And much of the rest of the time, the sun shone from a perfect spring sky.

But better even than that blissful bath or seductive sunshine was the unstinting hospitality, generosity and welcome that we received throughout the 150 miles. Other personal highlights that didn’t involve pubs included lapwings high on the Ridgeway in Wiltshire, a near-uninhabited Cotswold valley near Painswick that glowed gold in the evening light – and the company of family and friends along the way.

For the first few days, it was impossible to believe that this was the frantic, overpopulated, overtarmacked, overcommercial South-East. Until we reached Gloucester on Day 7, we had passed more donkeys (four) than shops (three). In fact, the metropolis of Gloucester was a godsend. By then I had discovered that my expensive Berghaus was as waterproof as a teabag, if not quite as useful, while Paul’s throbbing feet caused him to ditch his boots in favour of some high-tech trainers.

Newly kitted out, we somehow coped with the biblical rains that lay ahead. And because we did actually finish, we could safely haul in the promised money. To our amazement – and thanks to the kindness of so many – it looks as though we shall have raised over £7,500.

Thank you so very much.

Some of the birthday walkers on top of Garway Hill, including the youngest of all, Jonah Laurie Halse, aged 4 months.

Some of the birthday walkers on top of Garway Hill, including the youngest of all, Jonah Laurie Halse, aged 4 months.

Thanks also to everyone who joined Hugh and Paul along the way. On the 28th, despite the terrible weather of the day before, some 40 supporters of all ages turned out to walk the Herefordshire Trail from Kilpeck, over Garway Hill and then via Kentchurch to Ewyas Harold Common and Fair Oak. The sun came out and the Herefordshire landscape was at its loveliest. Many more supporters came along to greet the walkers at the end of the day, to eat and drink a birthday toast to Laurie.

The Big Pink Gig at Clyro Church, 21 April 2007

This was the second successful Big Pink Charity Concert to be held at Clyro Church, and the venue was fit to bust on Saturday 21 April when local music-makers The Cwmbach Quintet, the Cwmbach Quire, Tom Betham and Village Voices got together for an evening’s entertainment and fund-raising. Half the proceeds of the event (just over £500) went to the Laurie Engel Fund. Thanks to all involved for an evening that Big Pink supporters will remember for a long time to come.

Cricket auction, 30 October

Former England cricketer Eric Russell presented us with a very special signed cricket bat which has now been auctioned for £1500.  The bat dated from the Lord’s Centenary Test of 1980, when all players who had ever played in an Ashes Test were invited as guests of honour. It was auctioned on October 30 at a TCT fund-raising dinner, again at Lord’s, where Sir John Major was the guest speaker.

Sponsored St Cuthbert’s Way Walk

Matthew’s brother Tony Engel and his friend Geoffrey Barrett successfully completed their sponsored saunter along the St Cuthbert’s Way in Northumbria.  “The weather was kind, the scenery was beautiful, the path well-marked, and the sponsors very generous.” Altogether they expect to have raised nearly £5000.

23 September 07: Bunbury Cricket Match, Lavenham, Suffolk

LavenhamOn a gorgeous late-summer day in a beautiful setting, the Bunbury celebrity team turned out in force to play Lavenham Cricket Club in support of Laurie’s fund.

Even with an 18-strong team to fill, the Bunburys could loan one former Test player (Devon Malcolm) to the opposition to help balance the other four (Mark Ramprakash,  Phil Tufnell, Chris Silverwood and  Rob Bailey). The Bunburys team also included heartthrob Harry Judd of McFly and footballer Chris Sutton, who scored a century.

We owe enormous thanks to Bunburys’ mastermind David English and everyone at Lavenham, especially Holly Bellingham and Simon Turner of Marketform.

photo by Mike Hodges of www.lavenham-photographic.co.uk

photo by Mike Hodges of www.lavenham-photographic.co.uk

Laurie’s Woods

Kings CliffeWe are thrilled to learn that the land at Kingscliffe, near Peterborough, which was generously donated by Nigel Williams and his company, Parkhill Estates, attracted a wide range of interest and has now been sold for more than £100,000, well over the original estimate.

We are grateful to Nick Bowman of Berrys in Kettering, who handled the sale free of charge, and to Richard Engel of Max Engel and Co in Northampton, who donated his legal expertise.

Sponsored Bike Ride, Land’s End to Canterbury, 13-16 September

Left to right: Jim Pape, Jon Holton and Andrew Heywood

Left to right: Jim Pape, Jon Holton and Andrew Heywood

Congratulations and many thanks to Jim Pape, Jon Holton and Andrew Heywood, members of Saint Lawrence and Highland Court Cricket Club, Canterbury, for their amazing achievement. Andrew says: “We cycled, on my reckoning, 396 miles in four days. We had glorious weather and were assisted by a strong following wind. It was a very enjoyable ride through some beautiful parts of England”.

The money they have raised is to be divided equally between Laurie’s fund and a new pavilion for young teams at their club.

Darts Marathon, Birmingham, 14 July

John Bousa, President of Rubery Juniors Football Club, writes: “Just to inform you that The Cock darts team, Rubery, raised £1,231 in our 12-hour darts marathon.  Otto (Putland) arrived at about 2.30 and stayed the night here in Birmingham so he could present the prizes at the end.

“It was a brilliant day all round, with many players coming from different pubs in Birmingham to play.  Paul James, a local darts player, played 16 games against each of the players in turn and lost just once, to his own 15-year-old son Mark, who is one of the top 50 under-18s in the country.

“The manager of the pub, Damion, whose own mother and grandmother died from cancer, was deeply touched by Laurie’s story.  He said that Otto had inspired him, and we will continue to raise money for Laurie’s charity.

“I coach an under-13 football team and a few of the boys came up to play against Otto and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  But one of the lads summed it up by saying that he wished the most important lad was there with them.”

London 10 kilometre race, 1 July

Congratulations and thanks to Victoria Beenstock, who decided to run her first long-distance race for Laurie’s fund. Victoria’s father went to school with Matthew, at Carmel College, and she works as a clinical scientist at Northampton General Hospital. She has raised about £1300.

Three Peaks Challenge, June 7-8

Congratulations and many thanks to all participants in the Laurie Engel Fund Three Peaks Challenge team – Michael Watkins, Rebecca Wright, John Mulcaster, Martin Jolliffe, Alan Lathey, Kat Heritage and Paul Griffiths, seven Birmingham University students who set out to climb the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours.  Michael tells us

watkins2It all went really well! We had to fit seven of us and kit in a 4×4 which took some serious acrobatics climbing in and out of the boot. Aside from blisters and a few dodgy hips, knees and ankles we all made all three peaks without a hitch!

We had great weather with almost no wind and only a couple of showers – the clouds gave us the most fantastic light show during the Ben Nevis climb.

watkins1Five of us completed the challenge of getting to the summit of all three mountains in 24 hours! Due to joints and blisters two of the group were 15 minutes over the 24 hours; but talking to other groups and guides it sounds like we did well to get all seven of us to all the summits!  Paul and I pushed ahead and managed to climb up and down the three mountains with only 2 minutes to spare – we were running the last bit in panic!

The climb is expected to raise over £500 for the fund.

The Laurie Engel Fund Three Peaks Challenge team after reaching  the final summit – Snowdon – and about to head off to the chippy

The Laurie Engel Fund Three Peaks Challenge team after reaching
the final summit – Snowdon – and about to head off to the chippy

Plant Sale, Birmingham

plantsaleSusan and John Lloyd, Laurie’s aunt and uncle, once again worked fantastically hard with the help of friends and neighbours to organize a plant sale and coffee morning at their home in Harborne on Saturday 19 May.  Even with bargain prices they managed to raise well over £700 for the fund.  Thank you very much to everyone concerned.

London Marathon 22 April 2007

Congratulations to our five runners, Will Railton, Hannah Caven, Elaine Findon, Lee Gallant and Clare Dunne, who all successfully completed the race on a hot, sunny day that was great for spectators but very hard for those taking part.

Hannah and Elaine in costume (with Vika) at the start

Hannah and Elaine in costume (with Vika) at the start

Will, who was running for the first time, managed it in three and a half hours, and said it was a fantastic experience. Hannah and Elaine somehow covered the course in their huge Pink Lady apple costumes, and with the help of Alex Philpott and Fiona Williams attracted a great deal of publicity for the fund.

Round about the 23 mile mark: Elaine passing under London Bridge

Round about the 23 mile mark: Elaine passing under London Bridge

Elaine said afterwards: ‘it was the most amazing experience.  Although it was hot, the atmosphere running through the crowd was incredible, filled with chants about “looking fruity” and hundreds of people cheering and wishing you to succeed.  There were times when I thought I would never make it because I was over-heating, but with the end in sight, I was encouraged to run all the way by a gentleman who admired the fact I had done it in costume!.. I don’t think I will ever be able to dress like that again  or shake off the comments of “mad” and “insane” to run so far in the eye-catching outfit.  Yet I know in my heart that it was for such a good cause, and I would do it again tomorrow if I could!’.

Clare and Lee were also running a whole Marathon for the first time. Lee said “I was very sore and missing a few toenails by the end, but I did it”.

Huge thanks to all five runners and everyone who has supported them along the way. It was incredibly moving for us to see the huge effort they made.

St Thomas More Language College

St Thomas More, a Catholic comprehensive school in Chelsea which takes children from all over London aged 11 to 16, has raised more than £500 for Laurie’s fund in all sorts of ways.  Jenny Railton, mother of Will who is running the London Marathon for the fund, teaches at the school, and says ‘the parents and children reacted very positively to my requests for fund-raising on Laurie’s behalf.  Many children went on the website and this made them very keen to do what they could.

‘One child in year 7 said “When I told my Mum about the fund she wanted to know all about it and said I could get paid for the jobs I normally do around the house to raise money!”  Another said, my mum and dad were so moved they gave me some money for the new ward. One class immediately did a jam jar collection: we have our Mr Carter to thank for that and for giving some of the ticket money made from the art department’s body sculpture show.  I could go on in this vein.’

Many thanks to everyone concerned.

A Comedy for Laurie

At Carrs Lane Church in the centre of Birmingham the Carrs Lane Players put on a hugely successful production of Richard Harris’s ‘Party Piece’, and kindly donated their profits of £500 to Laurie’s fund.  Many thanks to all concerned, and especially to Jamila Khan.

Saunders Solicitors LLP Annual Quiz Night, London

Saunders’ Annual Quiz Night this year donated its takings to the Laurie Engel Fund. Legal clerk Helen Leadbeater is an old friend of Hilary and Matthew’s and saw during Laurie’s illness how that time was made even more comfortless for them and Laurie by the depressing and inappropriate conditions of the hospital wards where he was treated.

Quizmaster Iain Wilson set the questions, tactfully leaving out anything about the law and concentrating as usual on large carnivorous mammals. The takings included donations from the partners of Saunders and also from the chambers of  David Wolchover and Chris Van Hagen at 7 Bell Yard, making a total of  £550.