Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Race Night and other news

It's been a very busy few weeks for the campaign. Practically nonstop! The first thing to talk about is the Race Night, which took place last Friday. We were pleased at the turnout and Heather and I enjoyed being the bookies! A good amount was raised and the kids had fun shaking their stuff at the disco. Thanks to all those who came along and had a flutter, and those who couldn't make it but became horse owners, jockeys or trainers beforehand.

Last week we also had our fabulous Advent Auction for Andrew, with many goodies up for grabs, including festive ones! This also raised another good bit and we want to say a huge thank you to all those who donated and bid on the items.

This week is your last chance to win an amazing 28" football flat screen TV. Only £1 a ticket and delivered in time for Christmas! Comment below to enter.

Heather is looking at holding a Ladies' Night on March 22nd for the next event. Tickets will be £15, and she's promising cocktails, cupcakes, pampering, beauty and more! Even if you don't live in the local area, we really hope you can come and make a weekend of it!

Finally, wish Andrew luck as he goes back into hospital tomorrow to get his casts changed. He will now have half length ones on his legs for another eight weeks. He's done great since the operation so far, never complaining - that's our Superstar!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Good News!

Andrew in the hospital (Mum in the background!)
Sorry about the tardiness of this post. But I'm very happy to report that Andrew is now resting at home with his feet up, after being in hospital for an operation to straighten his legs. He came through it with practically no complications (just swollen toes meaning his casts had to be cut open), and we're hoping this will have a massively positive impact on his posture when he sits. I'll keep you updated as to when he's back up and about!

As usual with the campaign, there's a lot going on. We're holding a Race Night and Disco at a local club on Friday, December 7th. You can be involved in this exciting night wherever you are! There will be eight races, and each will have eight horses, eight jockeys and eight trainers.

1. Buy a horse and you become the owner - £3 each, and if the horse wins - YOU WIN THE SPONSOR'S PRIZE!
2. Buy a jockey - £1 each, and if the jockey wins - YOU WIN £5!
3. Buy a trainer - £1 each, and if the trainer wins - YOU WIN £5!

Sounds good, eh? You can comment below to enter. Don't be shy!

And we also have three fantastic raffles running at the moment:

* Delicious and indulgent afternoon tea at Mamasan, Glasgow

* Devilishly good Boudoir Experience at Choccywoccydoodah, Brighton

* Dazzling 28" football flatscreen TV (draw on 15th December!)

Tickets only £1 each... you know you want to!! Comment below to enter.

We are also still gathering items for our second online auction, to be held in December. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for sneak peeks. As before, let me know if there's anything you'd be able to donate. Thanks for all the wonderful support so far!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Family Fun Day and Fayre and College Assessment

Andrew with two of our awesome helpers,
Lucy and Jo at the Fun Day
What a fantastic week for the campaign! Our very first Family Fun Day and Fayre took place on Saturday at Ravenstruther Hall, Lanark and was a great success, raising nearly £400. A massive thanks to everyone who came along either to run a stall or to browse and support. We were very pleased with the turnout and are already planning the next one in the Spring.

On Thursday and Friday, Andrew went down for his assessment and overnight stay at Beaumont College. This visit was all about planning what Andrew wants to achieve at college, choosing courses, and seeing what support he will need. Needless to say, everyone took a shine to Andrew with his beaming smile and enthusiastic attitude and it is gratifying to see that Andrew's potential has been recognised. We are all really excited about what the future will hold!

Andrew has also been expressing his artistic side with his new Eye Gaze technology, using his eyes to select colours and make brush strokes. Here is one of the pieces he has created.

Some of Andrew's excellent artwork
And finally, Andrew is going into hospital tomorrow to prepare for the operation on his legs on Wednesday. This operation is all about enabling Andrew to sit better in his chair and improving his posture. With luck, everything will go smoothly and he'll be up and about in no time!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Newspaper Coverage and Eye Gaze

Another excellent week for Andrew's campaign. His story was featured in the Scottish Sunday Express - please go and check it out and add a comment as this will increase the story's visibility. Next stop will be TV coverage!

Andrew ready to scare as a Psychotic Surgeon on Halloween
Andrew has recently started using an eye gaze communication aid where he uses his eyes a bit like a mouse. He looks at the screen, then selects by holding his gaze for a fixed period of time (instead of clicking the mouse, he holds his gaze). We've just been told by Andrew's speech and language therapist that there is huge potential here for Andrew to use this system to "talk". He has very quickly 
understood how it works, and has been using his eyes to paint pictures. He's going to sell some of these paintings at our Family Fun Day and Fayre! 
THIS is why Andrew deserves to go to college; without college he will not have the opportunity to continue to develop his skills.

Thanks for all your support so far. I'm planning a bloghop in January that should result in something very special to raise funds for the campaign: watch this space!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Andrew's Birthday and Sponsored Cycle Run

Andrew with his dad Neil at
the start of the bicycle race
Well, what a week it's been for the campaign. Andrew entered adulthood on Monday when he turned 18 and celebrated with two cakes (one from Mum and one from school!) We've added three fantastic raffles to the Facebook pagea decadent and indulgent afternoon tea for two with gourmet sandwiches, chef’s cakes & treats and a vintage teapot filled with your choice of cocktail to share at the recently re-launched Mamasan on Bath Street Glasgow; a delicious Boudoir Experience at Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton, and don't forget the amazing 15" flat screen football TV still up for grabs! Go on, snag yourself a top treat for next to nothing and support a great cause!

Also, today was a great day as we all went for our Sponsored Cycling Run in Strathclyde Park, North Lanarkshire. The sun may not have shone but we had fun cycling the 6k round the lake, and as you can see, Andrew was beside himself! We have yet to tally up the final total but we've raised a wonderful amount from our generous sponsors - thanks to you all!

We are currently looking for our items for our second Online Auction to be held in the run up to Christmas. Again, check the Facebook page to see the items that have been donated so far, and get in touch if you'd like to contribute. And if you're in the area we've got our Family Fun Day and Fayre in Ravenstruther Hall, Lanark on November 10th.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Results of the Auction!

Just one of the items which have been won!
Our very first Auction for Andrew is officially over, and thanks to the generous support of our donors and bidders, we've raised a final total of £457.50. The response has been amazing! Heather will be in touch shortly with all parties to facilitate the shipping of items. Thanks again!

In other exciting news, Andrew has received a letter from Beaumont College detailing his upcoming assessment and overnight  stay to check out the facilities and accommodation. The assessment looks at what care and support Andrew needs, and will also tell us how much this is going to cost! However, when Andrew read the letter, he smiled the widest on learning he would be getting a free dinner - typical!

We're pleased to have reached over 700 likes on the Facebook page, but we still NEED many more signatures on our Petition to build a specialist college in Scotland if we hope to make an impact. Please retweet, share on your Facebook walls, invite friends to sign! Let's get to a thousand and beyond!

Again, thanks to everyone who has supported us in whatever way so far. Back soon with more updates.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Carers' Parliament, Auction and Logo

It's been a productive week for the campaign. We've been out and about gathering signatures for the petition to build a specialist college in Scotland (you can still sign via the button on the right - PLEASE take a moment to do this, we can only hope to make an impact with enough voices behind us) and raffle prizes from local businesses. The response has been great!

Heather and Hannah, Andrew's mum and sister, are off to the first session of the Carers' Parliament today and I'll report back on the progress that was made.

Our online Auction for Andrew starts on Tuesday and will run for a week. We've got a fantastic range of prizes - check it out and have a think about what you'd like to bid on!

We now have our very own logo which you can see in the pic, designed by the talented Helen at ArtFoundHelen. There are t-shirts available on her website, which are another great way to support Andrew - ALL proceeds go directly to the fundraising pot.

Andrew also has his own button, linking directly to the Facebook page, which you can see over there and probably down a bit. It would be especially awesome if you could grab the code and paste it on your own blog! :)

That's about it for now - have a great week!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Please Sign Our E-petition for a Specialist College in Scotland

It's been a really busy two weeks for the campaign, and we want to thank everyone who's supporting us, offering donations, and liking the Facebook page! Before I get into what we've got coming up, I'd like to direct your attention to the right and ask you to sign our e-petition. Hopefully, with enough voices behind us, we will get them to listen!

Courtesy of Carluke Gazette
Andrew's story is starting to permeate the media - last week, we were on the front cover of the local paper. We have now been interviewed and photographed by The Scottish Sun and Heather has written an article for the Times Educational Supplement. I'll update you when the articles are printed/online.

Excitingly, the campaign now has its very own mascot! It was designed by Helen of ArtFoundHelen and brought to life by Jules of JuJuStuff. We thought the ant was an apt symbol for Andrew, as it is very small, but very strong, and can achieve so much more when working with others. For a fun way to get involved with fundraising, we're running a competition to name this cuddly critter. Just send your suggestion to heathermcwilford(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk together with £1 via Paypal. The winner, who will be decided by Andrew himself, will get to give the mascot a loving home.

We have a couple of events coming up in the local community. First is the Cycle for Success at Strathclyde Country Park on Sunday 28th October. Andrew will be taking part himself on a specially adapted bike - here is a picture of him using one at a fun day three years ago.

Then we are holding a Family Fun Day and Fayre at Ravenstruther Hall on Saturday 10th November, with local crafts: jewellery, candles, cards etc, as well as a bouncy castle and facepainting. We've already filled the hall to capacity, and we're thrilled by the local support.

MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) Claudia Beamish has expressed an interest in our cause, and will be meeting with Heather and Hannah at the Carers' Parliament event on 1st October.

Don't forget you can still donate items for our online Auction for Andrew - a massive thanks to all those who have already done so! The auction will start on Tuesday 2nd October at midnight GMT and run until Tuesday 9th October at 10pm GMT, so it's not far away. There's some great stuff - get those early Christmas presents in!

We also have a fantastic prize being offered by Barrowboy Trading - a fantastic LCD 28" flat screen Football TV! Raffle tickets are just £5 and can be bought by sending a Paypal payment to Looks pretty sweet, doesn't it?

As always, we are open to any more suggestions for fundraising - just get in touch via the comments or email. As you can see, there is a lot going on - I'm planning to do weekly updates on the blog from now on. Thanks again - we've got the snowball rolling now and hoping it will turn into an avalanche...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

News and Andrew's Mum

Just popping in with a quick update. Pleased to say the campaign's been going brilliantly - as of now we're up to 91 likes on Facebook. Please go here to see all the news. We're also up to 23 items for our auction, and I'm offering a full book critique! Can I ask you again to please have a think about anything you'd like to donate. Go here to look at all the brilliant goodies we've got so far.

Cheesy pic on Brighton Pier
Andrew's sister Hannah has been invited to the first Carers Parliament on October 1st. This is an amazing opportunity as she will get to question the Scottish Parliament about the provision of specialist further education (or lack thereof) in Scotland. Andrew's mum has also submitted an online petition to the Scottish Government, and I'll let you all know when it's available for you to sign!

The local paper are coming to take Andrew's picture on Friday and the story will run next week. We've taken the plunge into Twitter too - please follow us, @NickPWilford and @HeatherWilford. We really want to keep the pressure up and make this a sustained campaign, as that's the only way we'll make a difference.

Andrew's mum has been feeling poorly the last few days, but all the support has pepped her up and I'm glad to say she's on the mend. She's been keeping up with the campaign in between bouts of rest!

Back soon with more updates...

Monday, 3 September 2012

Auction for Andrew

Hello. I'd like to draw your attention to an online auction that we're planning to hold to help raise funds and awareness for Andrew, and ask you a very special favour: if you can donate anything or ask anyone you know to do the same, it would be very much appreciated! I'm thinking signed books might be a neat idea, but really anything you can offer would be amazing. You can go to Andrew's Facebook page to see more updates, and here is an album of items that have already been donated.

We'll only be able to do this, and make a change to the status quo, with the help of people like you... and after all, how can you say no to this smile??

Friday, 31 August 2012

Andrew's Story

Hello, and welcome to Andrew McNaughton's blog. My stepson is a charming, handsome young man with complex additional support needs. Andrew is in his final year of school in Scotland and is very excited about going to college, however there is nothing available up here that will offer him the opportunities he deserves. This means he will be going south of the border, but our local authority will not provide funding for this. Before I get more into that, I want to tell you Andrew's story. This information comes from my wife's Facebook page, Friends of Andrew McNaughton.

Andrew was born on 22nd October 1994, at 26 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb and 14oz at Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital. He was delivered so early by emergency c-section because his mum had severe pre-eclampsia and was close to death. Andrew's lungs hadn't had time to form and he was unable to breathe for himself, so he was ventilated for the first three weeks of his life. When he was two days old, he had a cerebral bleed, and this caused damage in his brain. Andrew fought hard, and continued to grow, breathed on his own, learned how to suck from a bottle, and finally came home from hospital on his due date, 22nd January 1995.

Andrew's nickname is Superstar, and I hope you'll all soon understand why. Andrew has fought so hard with his health during his first few years, and is now a fit and healthy young man! He has worked hard at school, and has a number of Scottish Vocational Qualifications. Andrew now wants to go to college; he's very creative and artistic and is interested in music, art and technology.

Andrew has attended a fantastic specialist school, Stanmore House School in Lanark, since nursery. Stanmore have supported Andrew to attend Motherwell College once day a week for the past year. Motherwell College is one of our local colleges. Andrew had looked through the college prospectus and chosen a course. However, at a meeting just before the summer holidays, we were told that Motherwell College did not allow young people with additional complex support needs to choose their own courses. Instead, Andrew was offered a place on their Access 8 course, which is an eight week course offering "taster sessions" of a variety of recreational courses. At the end of the eight weeks he may or may not have been offered two afternoons of similar recreational type activities. Andrew is a bright young man, and wants to continue to achieve and develop educationally. He can take part in recreational activities with his friends and family. Andrew wants to go to college to have a meaningful educational experience!

Following on from this very upsetting meeting, we looked at other colleges around Scotland, and it became very clear that there was nothing available that could offer Andrew what he wanted and what he needs within Scotland. We then decided to do a bit of research, and discovered that this has been the case for a number of years. Young people in Scotland used to regularly cross the border to England to access the specialist colleges that exist there, and also in Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Government reviewed this situation and looked at whether we should have our own specialist college in Scotland. Despite a lot of evidence to suggest this should be the case, the decision was made at that time that additional funding would be provided to local authorities instead. The Scottish Government believe in mainstreaming, which unfortunately means Andrew's very specialist needs are left unmet!

Our local authority, South Lanarkshire Council, have made the decision that this extra money provided by the Government (which has been paid for young people with additional support needs, ie ANDREW!) should go straight to the mainstream colleges. They have not set up a discretionary fund, which means they will never have the opportunity to assess Andrew's individual needs - my wife has spoken to a lawyer about this and we could challenge it...

A Scottish Government webpage advised, "If your needs cannot be met within your local area, then you may apply to one of the specialist colleges". The Scottish Government have also advised us directly that the local authority is responsible for the funding. However, the local authority have advised that they cannot afford to fund a specialist college place....

Andrew sent away for several specialist college prospectuses, and decided to visit two. His mum and dad were blown away by what is on offer. There is just no comparison to the recreational course on offer at Motherwell. Andrew has applied to Beaumont College, which is a bit like Fame Academy! Andrew will have the opportunity to make films, music, dance productions, and basically create, create, create!

We have two aims with this campaign. Ensure Andrew's three year course is funded, and also to raise awareness about the complete lack of opportunities for young people with additional support needs. At 17, Andrew wants to be challenged, excited and entertained - it's a bit early for daycare!

I'll be updating this blog with news of our fundraising efforts. I'm looking into doing some charity runs. We're also looking for volunteer fundraisers; if you can help in any little way, it will be massively appreciated. Just comment or email me and we'll discuss it. Stay tuned!