THE Leven couple who set up the LoveOliver charity have broken the £50,000 milestone in their bid to fund research into childhood cancer.
Inspired by their first-born Oliver, whose life was cut short by a rare form of the disease, Jennifer and Andy Gill have dedicated their lives to honouring his memory by raising funds in the hope others won’t have to go through the heartache they have.
Since Oliver passed away on Christmas Day 2010, just 24-weeks-old, the charity’s fundraising efforts have featured regularly in the pages of the Mail and now the couple are looking to raise even more money by publishing theirs and little Oliver’s story.
‘Love Oliver: The Story of a Short but Inspirational Little Life’ is co-written by Jennifer and Andy but is written from baby Oliver’s perspective.
Originally written as a blog so the couple could update friends and family on their son’s condition it details Oliver’s experiences in his short life such as seeing snow for the first time and decorating the house for Christmas.
Published by Christian Focus Publications, Jennifer and Andy take up the narration after Oliver’s death and describe the devastation they felt at their young son’s funeral on New Year’s Eve.
But the couple aren’t looking for sympathy through the book, instead they see it as a way to highlight child cancer research by raising more money for LoveOliver.
Jennifer, who is a school teacher at Waid Academy, told the Mail: “The response to LoveOliver has been fantastic and £50,000 is an amazing amount to have raised in such a short time.
“Oliver’s blog was read every week by over 2000 people on Facebook and sent out to countless more on e-mail all over the world.
“Our main reasons for publish-ing it have been to keep his inspirational story going, to help other families in similar situations and to spread the word about the importance of the work of our charity LoveOliver.
“It will also help to raise some money for the charity which, of course, is always a good thing.”
The couple, who have a strong Christian faith, are delighted with the finished copy of the book but, of course, wish they never had to write it.
Jennifer continued: “We were involved with all the decisions about how it would look. The text is word for word what we wrote – it shows the wonderful blessing Oliver was, is and will always be – and it shows that there are no easy answers.
“We constantly reflect on and relive our times with Oliver every day, but putting it all together as a book was hard, as it reminded us of how well things were going and how suddenly everything changed.”
‘Love Oliver: The Story of a Short but Inspirational Little Life’ is available to buy now directly from LoveOliver at the charity’s events and through its website at www.loveoliver.org.uk
Containing pictures and 126 pages, it will also be sold on the Christian Focus Publications website, on Amazon and in some Christian bookshops from November onwards.
Charity keeps raising to give
AS well as publishing Oliver’s blog as a book Jennifer and Andy Gill have organised a number of fundraising activities throughout the year to raise funds for their LoveOliver charity.
Money raised from book sales will be added to the charity’s main fund which helps to fund research into childhood cancer and to provide practical support to families affected by it.
Recently it has donated a selection of video games, craft supplies and books to the Oncology ward at Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital and will soon be donating gift/pamper packs for teenagers.
Next up, on November 26, the charity is presenting an evening of live music at the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes.
Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and the night will feature a mixture of music from the likes of The Southside Kitchen Band, J6 Hymns and Alex MacDonald and band as well as the story of LoveOliver so far.
Tickets can be bought from the box office on 01592 611101 with all money raised going to the charity.
LoveOliver has also entered in the RBS Community Force where £6000 will be given to charities. You can vote for LoveOliver at http://communityforce.rbs.co.uk/project/948