Opinions, hopes, dreams and discussions – on every topic from health to welfare, me to you, politics to parenting. Ready for some conversation?

Chain of Hope – meeting Hala, miracle child of Gaza

Written by  |  September 2, 2014  |  Blog  |  No Comments Yet

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Photographer Andrew Crowley, Hala’s mother Mahdeya Abdullah, Hala and me

Chain of Hope is the charity set up by British cardiologist Sir Magdi Yacoub to offer disadvantaged children across the globe access to heart surgery.  Its most recent – and probably most high profile – patient was Hala al Massri, a three year old girl with Tetralogy of Fallot, one of the most common congenital heart defects in children. Hala was suffering from a decreased blood flow to the lung, a hole between the two ventricles (or main chambers) in the heart, displacement of the aorta (the main artery) and increased thickness of the right ventricle.I met her two weeks after surgery and found her to be a delightful scamp; full of hope and life.

You can read my article in the Telegraph here

Operations carried out by Chain of Hope are very cost-effective (about £5,000 each), carried out at NHS hospitals – which work on a cost basis – and by NHS surgeons in their own time. The charity also provides teaching and training programmes while developing local infrastructure in countries such as Mozambique, Egypt, Jamaica and Ethiopia.With the guidance of the charity’s Medical Board, Chain of Hope has been saving lives for almost 15 years.


Marathon effort for Electric’s Charlie

Written by  |  January 31, 2014  |  Blog  |  No Comments Yet

Marathon day (April 13 2014) in London will see super cool hairdresser Charlie Mann, Director of Electric London, chalking up his 26 miles in April at the Virgin Money London Marathon for a cause that is worth a little extra support. The Sir Simon Milton Foundation follows its eponymous founder’s ‘One City’ policy – a landmark initiative which provides young people with jobs and training, and ensures older residents are looked after and involved in a community that values their contribution.

Haring about: Charlie Mann and Mark Woolley of Electric Hairdressing salons

Hairing about: Charlie Mann and Mark Woolley of Electric Hairdressing salons

It’s this latter group which Charlie is keen to support . ‘Sir Simon’s vision is clear,’ he explains. ‘More personal choice and control, personal dignity and the chance to make a positive contribution.’

The Foundation wants to tackle everything from financial hardship and poor health to loneliness – for example through Silver Sunday, held annually on the first Sunday in October, providing older people with a national day of free activities offering them the opportunity to try something new and meet new people.

‘Westminster is a densely populated area but it is still possible for some of our elderly residents to be lonely in its midst. The Foundation wants to tackle that and act as a bridge to a better quality of life for our older residents.’

The organisation also supports young people to achieve their potential. ‘The Foundation wants to establish a network of scholarships, again with an emphasis on attracting those from less advantaged backgrounds. It will champion initiatives like the creation of a new University Technical College to promote Westminster as a place where employers can find a highly skilled and flexible young workforce.

‘But the development of young people goes wider than the jobs market: the Foundation wants to promote good citizenship through promoting volunteering, educational activities, guidance and mentoring.’

Racing talk

So has Charlie ever run a marathon before?

‘No,’ he admits. ‘This is my first official Marathon.’

You are pretty fit, I say – what is your weekly raining like now?

electric logo‘Current training consists of circuits, medium distance 8-10 miles, six days per week.  So I’ve increased the intensity of my training, 3 x long runs 12-18 mile runs 3 x per week, plus 2 x shorter distance, plus speed, strength and body weight circuits.’  His running partner is the man behind the Electric brand Mark Woolley , award winning creative director and all-round good guy.

So what’s Charlie looking forward to most about the marathon?

‘The spectacle of the event, the atmosphere,  the physical challenge, and the exposure for the charity.’

What is he dreading?

‘I am looking forward to the event,’ he laughs. ‘However I know it is going to hurt!’

If you want to support Charlie and the Simon Milton Foundation in its support for the young and old of London, sponsor his race here – a great guy running for a great cause. #lambertlikes

Walkactive trial – YOUR chance to join in

Written by  |  January 6, 2014  |  Blog  |  1 Comment

Walkactive is the health and fitness programme established by sports scientist and trainer Joanna Hall. I’ve written about it in The Telegraph twice – once describing how it feels to a novice, and secondly, two weeks ago, about how I felt attending a Walkactive Bootcamp at La Manga, Spain in October, and its cumulative effects on my health.

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Victoria and Joanna at La Manga in Spain

The secret of its success seems to lie in the way you can leverage Walkactive to fit into your daily routine to offer benefits both in pure health terms (improving stamina and overall fitness) as well as to one’s appearance – the programme helps you lengthen the torso and walk tall. I tend to think of it as a sort of ambulatory pilates.

Currently, Joanna and her team are recruiting (with the Telegraph) for a scientific trial which she believes will show that her theories are based in science – that if you move your body using Walkactive techniques, you will see real benefits to fat percentages, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol readings.

The details

Dr Darren James, Research Fellow, London South Bank University, will be in charge of the science and will investigate the effects of a four-week ‘Walk-Active’ program in a cohort of individuals who subscribe to Joanna Hall’s training camp. Study participants will be screened prior to and immediately following completion of the program.  Both pre- and post-tests will involve three-dimensional motion capture for the analysis of skeletal alignment and posture and skin-fold measurements for the assessment of body-fat index. A further set of participants will serve as a control group to verify that any improvements in these outcome measures are not simply an effect of program-induced increases in walking speed.


But applications close TONIGHT – JANUARY 6! so if you want to join the trial, can fulfill her criteria (on the weblink) and learn the technique for free get busy. I honestly do recommend it.

 And if you can’t get on the trial…

Joanna also runs courses and a club throughout the year – more information via her website  – her 2014 One Day Workshop Series includes:

Introduction to Walkactive Workshops – designed specifically for those new to the Walkactive Technique or who need help mastering the basics

Walk Your Waist Off Workshops – designed to help  continue on the Walkactive journey and specifically show how to take inches off your waistline

and best of all!

Training camps

include La Manga Club, Mercia, Spain: 24-28 April 2014 and 9-13 October 2014 and Lifehouse Spa & Hotel, Essex  19-23 June 2014 and 22-26 September 2014