PPR Foundation – Brain Tumour Research – Blog 28.3.14

Hi Everyone.

Happy “Wear a Hat” Day!    Today we’re being asked to wear a hat to unite and bring awareness to Brain Tumours.  And before I go any further, just have a look at this!    This is a transcript taken from a meeting yesterday in the House of Commons.   

House of Commons

Thursday 27 March 2014

The House met at half-past Nine o’clock


[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con): Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer among under-40s, and tomorrow is Wear A Hat day in aid of brain tumour research. We are very fortunate in Harrogate and Knaresborough to have a dynamic local charity called the PPR Foundation founded by a local lady, Pamela Roberts, who does great work raising funds for brain tumour research. Please may we have a debate about how we can raise awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours among the under-40s?

Mr Lansley: It is important that my hon. Friend raises the work that PPR and Pamela Roberts are doing, and I am grateful to him for doing so. When I was Secretary of State, I was very aware of the continuing risk of brain tumours, particularly among younger people, and the lack of diagnosis and treatment options. That is one of the reasons we took the decision to invest £150 million in the establishment of proton beam therapy centres. It is a continuing issue. I will of course raise it with my hon. Friends at the Department of Health, but if he is in his place next Tuesday when they respond to questions, he might find a further opportunity to do so.


 It’s a few weeks since I last posted a blog on the website and our fund raising activities have stepped up a lot!   

 I must tell you first about our market stall held at Knaresborough Market this week.     This was on Wednesday.  After Tuesday’s rain, I have to admit to not being too optimistic about this, but Wednesday was beautifully dry and bright.  We’d been collecting donated goods for weeks and our stall was bulging when we set up shop.    Our team consisted of 6 PPR ladies and our latest recruit – a PPR Gentleman, Peter!     He must have brought us luck!    We made the best part of £500 and had lots of fun being market traders for the day.   There’d been a lot of effort put into this prior to the event and particular mention goes to Paula who had managed to secure the stall for us and to Elaine who spent an awful lot of time pricing every item.    A massive thanks to everyone who was involved.     


Whilst asking for donations for our market stall, some interesting, unusual and more expensive items have been donated to us;  these have now been sold, or are currently on sale on Ebay, and again, the money is rolling in.  We are so grateful to all those who have donated goods.      It’s also the case that funds are not always raised in the ‘obvious’ way.    I sold two large porcelain dolls on Ebay this week   In themselves, the dolls didn’t raise a great deal of money but the lady who bought them struck up a dialogue with me once she realised that the money was going to brain tumour research.      So touched was she by our cause, that she is now donating a valuable collectors’ item teddy bear to us to be auctioned on Ebay.    We seem to meet some amazing people along the way.

Oh, and we will always welcome donations of books, particularly,  as we have an on-going sale in Sue’s Hairdressing Salon in High Street, Pateley Bridge, thanks to our own PPR Lady, Pauline, and to Sue’s Hairdressers.   In fact, if you think your hairdresser may have space for a charity book stand in their salon, please will you let us know.     Going by the cash that’s coming in from the Pateley Bridge salon, it would seem that hairdressing clients like reading books.

On the subject of sales, we are going to have a Thrift Shop at St Peter’s Church in Harrogate town centre (right next to Primark!) on the 19th September.    Jetta and Irene are in charge of this one, although we’ll all be pitching in to help.   Besides serving coffee and tea, we will be selling all sorts of goods:   crafts, vintage and designer clothing, books, CDs and bric-a-brac, etc.    Put the date in your diary because we seem to be getting good at tempting the public to buy our fantastic bargains!

Before I go any further, can I just re-mention that Sue Foster and Anthony Cross are getting married on the 12th April.     Sue was possibly going to be my daughter-in-law once-upon-a-time but, hey, life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect and things took a different turn and now she is absolutely in love with Ant.    But the very, very best thing is that they’re not making a wedding list full of gifts they’d like for their new home;  no, they’ve asked their friends to donate something to PPR to finance brain tumour research instead.     It’s got to rate as one of the most unselfish acts I have heard of!    Although you don’t know Sue and Ant (and might I add that Ant didn’t know Ian whose death has inspired Sue to fundraise for us), it would be a wonderful way of wishing this young couple happiness by supporting their fantastic gesture.  Here’s the link to their Just Giving page:     


Also, just a reminder that Victoria Grafton is doing the Coast to Coast walk between 30th April and 10th May in support of PPR and if would also be great if you could show her your support too.    Her webpage can be found at:


Our next social events are our annual trip to Ripon Races on Thursday 17th April and a Vintage Tea Party at Markenfield Hall on Thursday 29th April.   Have a look on our Events page on the website:


And I’m going to leave it there and wish you all a very happy weekend, especially to all the Mums.

Rosie x









14 February 2014

Hi Again, Good to see you!  Happy Valentine’s Day.

I’ve left it a little while since the last blog as we’ve been busy organising the new office.   It’s now fully furnished and we had our first meeting there last week.  The office makes a massive difference to us. We now have our ‘hub’ from where we can plan and organise our important work.   There was a lot to cover at this meeting as 2014 is going to be a busy year.

One of our new ventures is happily accepting donated goods so that we can sell them to raise funds.    One way in which we intend to do this is via a stall at Knaresborough Market on Wednesday the 26th March.    Our stall is definitely going to be worth a visit!  Come along and buy some of the goods we’ll have on sale;  you won’t be disappointed.  (If you’ve been lucky enough to experience our Tree of Life goods, then you will know that we go with the idea of ‘quality at low prices’).  If you have any books, CDs, bric-a-brac, etc, that are worth selling, then please let us know!

As well as the market stall, we are selling some of the more bespoke or unusual donated items on Ebay.   So far, this is raising a surprising amount of money but some of the donations are a little strange.  For instance, have you ever heard of a “Conformateur”?    I certainly hadn’t.   However, I now know exactly what one is and it’s about to go on E-bay unless I have any good offers beforehand!   Oh, and another rather unusual donation is a Week at a Luxury Caravan in the Sand-le-Mere Holiday Village in Tunstall, East Yorkshire.   The owners are open to offers (they advertise it at £230 per week September to March).  Please let me know if you are interested and I will put any reasonable offers to them.




A reminder about Ripon Races on Thursday 17 April. In case you don’t know about this, Ripon Racecourse kindly lets us have a box for 100 people at the Course.    From the box, there is a balcony with a superb view of the finishing line.    We have a fantastic lunch with drinks and in my experience over the last couple of years, it’s a brilliant afternoon out – lots of fun and it can be lucrative of course!    See our website for details.

Our next fundraising social event after the Races is to be a Vintage Tea Party at Markington Hall on Thursday 29 May.   Markington Hall is well worth a visit and this looks like being a very enjoyable afternoon at a ticket price of £25.  This is not just any old tea party!  More details to follow.   We can accommodate 50 people so please let us know if you’d like to join us.

The ‘Black, White and Pearls Ball’ at the Royal Hall, Harrogate on 7 November is going to be our biggest event this year and we’d love you to join us.  This is taking some careful planning as we want it to be a fantastic and memorable event.  

You may remember that I mentioned in my blog on the 20th December that Victoria Grafton (she’s a Director of Brindley’s in Harrogate) is undertaking the Coast to Coast walk between the 30th April and the 10th May.    She is doing this for The PPR Foundation. The walk is approximately 184 miles and Victoria intends to walk approximately 30 miles per day.    It’s between St Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay.   She will be doing this with her friend, Sarah-Jane Patrick.    They are also fundraising for Hearing Dogs.  Please have a look at their fundraising page.   It would be great if you could sponsor them.   Having once undertaken a very arduous walk myself for charity, I can tell you that it’s the sponsorship that keeps you going!  



Aside from the fundraising, we met with Macmillan again this week to progress our support group for carers of those on the brain tumour journey.   Although we can currently offer empathy on the basis of our own personal experiences, in teaming up with Macmillan, we are going to take advantage of the courses they run to help us.  We also aim, via our wonderful helpers, to be able to offer help in the form of complementary therapies for carers.  I was fortunate enough to be offered massage and reflexology when I was at the hospice during Ian’s illness.   At this awful time, I really did appreciate the human touch;  I hadn’t realised until I experienced these therapies just how much I needed to feel ‘loved’ during that time.

If you are reading our blog because somebody you love has been affected by a brain tumour, and particularly by a Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV (‘GMB4’), I wonder if you can help us in some very grass roots research we are doing.      Each of us found that when our own husbands were diagnosed with this dreadful illness, the question was never raised by the medical practitioners we came across “What do you think might have been responsible for the tumour”.     It’s often said that cancer is a lifestyle illness and maybe it is, in which case – is there a common denominator cause?  As seven of us have experienced losing a loved one to a GMB4 tumour, it seemed worthwhile giving some consideration to what might have had some bearing on this.   This is very much a ‘lay person’s’ survey and I’m simply asking if there was anything you suspected your loved one ate, drank, did, was exposed to, etc?     It could be that the same answers will crop up again and again.  Please let me know.   The PPR Foundation is now financing a professional medical team at St James Hospital in Leeds to carry out research into brain tumours, but alongside that, it seems crazy not to ask the people who have personal experience what they think.

And just to finish off, I wonder if you saw Davina McColl on TV this week being pulled out of Lake Windermere after doing the swim that our Sue is going to do in June.    Davina did not look to be in very good shape at that point to say the least!     However, Sue is not deterred and lots of people are donating to her Just Giving page to encourage her to undertake the swim for brain tumour research.   http://www.justgiving.com/Sue-Forsyth

Will be back soon!

10 January 2014

Hi there!    Although we haven’t fully wound up again yet from the Christmas/New Year break, certain things are being set in motion!   Sue’s organised some outdoor swimming practice in a river so that she’ll be well equipped for the Great North Swim that we want you all to sponsor her for in June.     If she’s prepared to practice in a river at this time of year (brrrrr, the very thought of it makes me shiver!), then she surely deserves a little helping hand.   Please encourage her by making a donation, however small, via her JustGiving page – http://www.justgiving.com/Sue-Forsyth     

On to a warmer event – our Black White and Pearls Ball on the 7th November (make sure the date is in your diary!)   It seems that this is already inspiring some ladies to go out and buy a ball gown!     I was very encouraged last week when I was shopping with a friend and she bought a beautiful long black dress for the ball – “Goody”, I thought, “that means she’s definitely going to come”.    However, a couple of days later, I noticed a photograph on Facebook showing her teenage daughter wearing the very same dress, only a rather cropped version of it to a New Year’s Eve party!    Hmmm, Ally, I think you’ll have to start again (and don’t let your daughter look in your wardrobe next time).    

I’m currently taking advanced driving lessons (I realised I needed to have a refresher course after the last speeding ticket).   As my car is badged up with the PPR logo on either side, my instructor asked me if I would perhaps speak to a friend of his whose husband has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour.   I was pleased to be asked and really hope that I can give some kind of help to this lady as this is precisely what PPR would like to be able to offer to anyone who finds themselves in the situation we have each been in.  We certainly found some comfort in meeting each other.  Macmillan are going to assist us in this as apparently there is no other such offer currently available in our area to the loved ones/carers of a brain tumour patient.   Our hope is that possibly, in talking to somebody who has shared this awful journey, we can help in some small way.

It looks like we’ll have the broadband in our office after the 17th January so that means we can really get cracking!     Pammie is just buying the last few bits and pieces necessary and then we’ll be ready to go.   We cannot of course run our office from any of the money donated to brain tumour research so we are busy trying to find ways to fund the office costs.   One of our ideas is to set up an E-bay site to help raise such funds so if you have anything that you don’t want but it could be worth selling, please let us know and we will happily do the necessary.    By funding the office, we are facilitating more fundraising for our real cause!

Well, that’s all for now.   It’s Friday evening and time to wind down – so that’s just what I’m about to do.     Happy weekend!   See you soon.


3 January 2014

That’s the first time I’ve typed 2014.    It sounds rather futuristic.   It doesn’t seem long at all since we were looking forward to the Millennium!

Well, I hope that you all had a very happy and restful break over the Christmas and New Year period.    I think I can report that most of us have – except for Pammie of course – who has been beavering away sorting out the new office.   I went to look today and it’s no longer an empty building. Oh no!   It’s been completely transformed into a super, beautifully organised and very effective work place.  We now just await the broadband and then it’s completely ready for us PPR Ladies to get in there and work far harder and more efficiently than ever at our fundraising.

I was very impressed with the furnishings, much of which has come from an office that Pammie and her husband, Peter, used to have and from her own home office.   The shelves are stocked with files and stationery and the cupboards are full of all of the office equipment we could possibly need.    We have had some fantastic donations, for which we are extremely grateful but whatever else was needed, Pammie has financed herself.     I love telling you about our new office but I don’t want you to ever think that the money donated for Brain Tumour Research has financed this.    Definitely not!    100% of that goes to research and, as our Irene puts it “Wi nowt taken out”.

Julie Dedman telephoned Pammie yesterday morning and confirmed that she and Simon, two of our newest patrons, have decided against giving us their old computers after all. Instead, they are buying us brand new ones AND our own server; what’s more, they are sending their service providers to install them for us.     What fantastic generosity.   Thank you both so much.  

And talking of patrons, we have a new one on board – Julia Skrentny.   Julia, we look forward to working with you.

So, it looks likely that we can now plan our official opening of the office for mid-April.  This should nicely coincide with our Race Day at Ripon Races on the 17th April.     Ripon Races is one of our biggest annual events.   Please save the date and come along and join us.    We aim to have 10 tables of 10 people.   The Racecourse lets us have a box;  the food is gorgeous and there’s a wonderful view of the course.   I’ve attended for the last two years and it’s a brilliant, good fun afternoon.

And don’t forget our Ball on the 7th November at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.   The theme is ‘Black, White and Pearls’ so if you happen to spot a beautiful ball gown in the sales, don’t be shy – rush in and buy!     

As January is now upon us and we’re making resolutions, I wonder if it’s an opportune time to ask you to think about leaving a gift/legacy to The PPR Foundation in the event of death.   This would be a wonderful way of helping to eradicate an illness which takes lives prematurely, and particularly the lives of young children.  The research we are currently financing is going to ultimately find a cure (and apparently this can make the burden of inheritance tax lighter so it’s well worth considering).

Irene tells me that the United Reformed Church at West Park in Harrogate took some information from her and they are now going to make us their chosen charity between April and June this year.    Thank you very, very much to the Church for doing this for us!

And finally, Margaret, a very special PPR Lady, has now been in hospital for six weeks since a fall when she was away from home which rendered her unable to walk.    She’s improving now but is still marooned several miles away from us so I just want to send lots of love from all of us and GET BETTER SOON!!

That’s all for now.     Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Rosie x


20 December 2013

Well, this is the last blog before Christmas and I started out the week wondering what I’d be writing as surely it wouldn’t be eventful on the fundraising front, this close to Christmas. However, as always, I was wrong. Our Christmas cards have been selling so well and Simon and the team at Brindleys of Harrogate have really, really helped us here – so an enormous thanks to you! Also, as we hoped, people have so very kindly donated to our Just Giving webpages. Elaine particularly asked for donations in lieu of Christmas cards and once again, she has raised a massive amount – approximately £500 at the time of writing. This, added to last year’s total, elevates her to Just Giving’s second highest fund raiser for The PPR Foundation. Okay, Signet Planning’s Three Peaks Walk still holds the title but there were several of us fundraising on that occasion. Elaine is doing this single handed! It just shows what can be done!
Whilst I was looking at the Just Giving page to be able to report how well donations are going, I noticed that Sue Forsyth has already raised £510 for her Great North Swim – and it’s not even happening until next June. Looks like she could be romping away with the top fundraising title before long. Could be neck and neck! Oh, and hang on, hot off the press, we’ve just heard from Simon Grafton (Brindleys, Harrogate) that his wife, Victoria, is going to do the Coast to Coast Walk in 2014 for us. Yes, Us, PPR! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Victoria – I know Pammie is absolutely delighted that you’ve chosen our charity and she wishes you, Simon and the children (and I quote) “a peaceful and happy Christmas; a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014 and may Brindley’s continue to go from strength to strength.” (It will, I’m sure – it’s one of those irresistible shops where you just need to pop in to have a look but end up wanting to buy so many things.)
Asia had the brilliant idea of selling the gifts left over from the pre-Christmas Pearl Party that was held a couple of weeks ago. There wasn’t a great deal left over as they had been so popular on the night but Asia saw that there’s a market for these and has taken the initiative so she will be selling these via car boot sales. If you come across her, have a look. There are some lovely things and very reasonably priced.
Irene, our pinny lady, has also been making lots and lots of cash for us by selling her handiwork. She makes some beautiful things, all adding yet another dimension to our fundraising activities.
By the way, one has to be able to blow one’s own trumpet, surely! My wine tasting evening still continues to bring in the loot! Another £87 is ready to be banked. I really do prefer this line of work to the one I was paid to do for the last 30 odd years! It’s far more rewarding.
We made a new friend earlier this year called Pam Lyons. Pam lives in Stoke and she had contacted us because, like ourselves, she too had lost her husband to a brain tumour. Pam did some fund raising a few months ago but we appreciate she is quite a distance from our little clan up here in Yorkshire so it was fantastic to hear from her again last week when she let us know that she’d organised a dressing up day at her work to raise funds for PPR’s cause. It is so good to know that the word has spread and we are receiving help from far and wide. Thank you very, very much Pam. Wish I could have seen what you all dressed up as. Any photos??
And even though I may have had concerns about little fundraising activity going on, being The PPR Ladies, it was obvious there’d be something social! This week, several of us went to see Rebecca Newman in a Christmas Carol concert at The Barbican in York. We’d met Rebecca in September at the Party in the Park concert. We’d gone there primarily to hear Russell Watson sing and to meet with him, as he is one of our patrons. However, we met several other fantastic people that day too and Rebecca showed a lot of interest in our cause. We’d gone to the Party in the Park very much as ‘The PPR Ladies’, in our black, white and pearls outfits (it always helps!) and we soon got chatting to Rebecca. We’d been looking forward to seeing her again. It was a very enjoyable pre-Christmas concert – just the thing to get us in the Christmas Spirit (although some might say it doesn’t take much!)
And the new office is now completely ready for us to move into bar one very important thing. Broadband! So, January will be our moving in date and who knows, I could be writing my next blog from there.
So, that’s it for now. May I wish you all a very happy Christmas; a merry New Year’s Eve and everything you wish for yourself in 2014. I will be back on Friday 3rd January 2014.

11 December 2013

A little bit early this week but I think we’ve plenty to report without waiting for Friday!

Oh the compliments we have had about the lovely presents in our Tree of Life at last week’s Pearl Party!    The presents themselves proved very popular but as, seemingly, several people haven’t even opened theirs yet, preferring to leave them for Christmas, it’s the beautiful wrapping that’s got the majority of the praise.    So I just wanted to note that for you, Pammie.    You’ve definitely got a talent on that score and thank you for all the time and care you put in, despite the fact you weren’t feeling well.  

The total sum raised on the evening was the most incredible £620.32!  This was due to so many things: 

1. All the ‘Tree of Life Gifts were donated and …… 

2.  At the very last minute, the lovely candles and tea-light holders were anonymously sponsored, so everything taken on the night was profit. Val and Brian Jones very generously sponsored our fizz and Dawna worked for hours cooking the wonderful tapas. Her generosity leaves us in awe and we owe her a huge vote of thanks.  

Back to Christmas cards – or not, as the case may be.    We’re selling some really appealing cards designed by Frankie Baynham, a pupil at Grove Road Community Primary School at £2.95 for a pack of 8 (check out our website or pop into Bridleys in Harrogate – they’re near the till – not with all the other charity cards upstairs – ours are special!) and we’re making a little bit on each pack for our research project but what we’d really like is to encourage everyone to ask for donations of the money that would be spent on Christmas cards and postage to be sent direct to our cause.   Don’t you get too many cards each year?   Where do you put them all?    Last year, Pammie, Elaine and I set up a Just Giving page each, simply asking people for £1, which is approximately what a card and postage could cost.  It was amazing how much money was donated.    (Having said that, it turned out that the minimum donation on Just Giving is £2 – sorry about that!)   However, we then found that £1 donations to Just Giving can be made by text.      So, if you’d really like to help us achieve our £1 million goal, why not tell your friends that instead of sending them a card this year, you’re sending the money to The PPR Foundation to finance research into brain tumours.    The links to our Just Giving pages are:

Elaine – http://www.justgiving.com/Elaine-Parlour

Pammie – http://www.justgiving.com/Pamela-Roberts1

Rosie – http://www.justgiving.com/Rosie-Lever1

but it would be even better if lots of people would set up their own pages and encourage their friends to donate.

To send a donation by text, send it to 70070.   Elaine, Pammie and I have a separate code each, see below.  Type the code, then the amount and press “Send”.   You’ll get a message back and if you follow the instructions you can leave a message so we know it’s you!  

Elaine – EPAR49

Pammie – PPRF58

Rosie – ROWE57

This week, some of our ladies went to the lab at St James Hospital in Leeds where we are financing the research work into brain tumours.    Unfortuantely, I was unable to go so I will hand over to Pammie to tell you all about it.

“Lis, Nel and I were at The BT Lab in Leeds today. It was the most wonderful surprise when Freya (Anke’s daughter) presented me with a beautiful box, overflowing with money! (£385.18p to be exact).

freya's money This was the sum that they raised at the ‘Cake Sale’ that Anke held at ‘Jimmy’s’ on December 4th supported by Marjorie and so many other members of staff (none of whom are sponsored by PPR). They were given two short hours for their cake sale and raised this amazing sum. I am both humbled and in awe of the fact that the Post Doc Researcher is so ‘on side’ with The PPR Foundation, that she is raising funds on our behalf and has even inspired other staff members to bake cakes to support our initiative. Anke plans to make this an annual event and I have promised her that we PPR Ladies will also bake/contribute/be there and be very supportive next year.

cake stall

ppr stall

We met Ruth, our new Lab Technician (photo below) and knew within a very short time why she was appointed. Anke told me that in the lab, ‘Team PPR’ is unique. They work seamlessly together, and have all become good friends to boot!


It was great to see out PPR Sign on the wall outside the lab, but unfortunately, our sign for the entrance foyer has yet to be put up.” Liz Susan Ruth Anke and Nel

Lis, Susan, Ruth, Anke and Nel

Pauline Francis, one of our PPR Ladies was inspired during her recent house move. She took all her unwanted books to her local hairdresser, Sue, in Pately Bridge and in only 6 short weeks, Sue raised £46 for us from the sale of Pauline’s books and is continuing to sell them in aid of The PPR Foundation. This has jettisoned Pauline into action and she has asked us all (and wants us to ask all our friends) to give her/collect for her, all unwanted books so that she can continue to raise funds by selling them. Well done Pauline; another new initiative for The PPR Foundation.

And apart from everything else that’s been going on recently, we managed to fit in time to have a really nice get together on Monday at Harrogate Golf Club at our Christmas Lunch.   This was attended by the wider circle of PPR ladies.  However, unfortunately, neither Irene or Margaret could make it but they were both in our thoughts.     Thank you Paula for organising the lunch.

We are now busy focusing on getting our new office up and running in readiness for 2014 when we plan to ‘Hit the ground running’. We have so many very exciting initiatives in place for the New Year so, …… continue to ‘Watch this space ……. ‘