19 April 2013


"We'd like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported last year's Bernice Summerfield story Many Happy Returns, the celebratory release featuring a wealth of talent in front of and behind the camera. It's so far raised £4454 for the charity Invest in M.E. And it's still on sale!

Bernice Summerfield: Many Happy Returns is available on the website for only £10, as a download only, with all proceeds to Invest in ME charity, for biomedical research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E)

A feature-length tale, it's written by Xanna Eve Chown, Stephen Cole, Paul Cornell, Stephen Fewell, Simon Guerrier, Scott Handcock, Rebecca Levene, Jacqueline Rayner, Justin Richards, Miles Richardson, Eddie Robson and Dave Stone and stars, amongst others, Lisa Bowerman, Stephen Fewell, Ayesha Antoine, Miles Richardson, Katy Manning, Nicholas Briggs, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.

Cast: Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield), Stephen Fewell (Jason Kane), Steven Wickham (Joseph), Miles Richardson (Irving Braxiatel), Louise Faulkner (Bev Tarrant), Harry Myers (Adrian Wall), Thomas Grant (Peter Summerfield), Ayesha Antoine (Ruth), David Ames (Jack), Marcus Hutton (Leonidas), Katy Manning (Iris Wildthyme), David Benson (Panda), Nicholas Briggs (The Curator), Sylvester McCoy (Late Arrival), Sophie Aldred (Dave Stone), Christopher Allen (Adam), John Ainsworth (Casino Robot), Gary Russell (Vice Chancellor) 

Big Finish produce an officially licensed range of Doctor Who dramas.  Here are some responses from fans of their Facebook page to the exciting announcement above:

"Great news. Having M.E myself, it would be great to see some breakthrough medically . Well Done Big Finish !"

"Amazing! Thanks again to everyone involved in this and being so generous in giving the proceeds to charity x"

"This was a truly amazing release. The scenes with Benny and Jason at the end literally had me sobbing my heart out. This is how to do an anniversary story, Doctor Who producers, I hope you've taken notes."

"I cried my eyes out as well at the end! Well done! Good story.. great characters and a good cause! How about another one next year!!"

"Congrats on money well raised.

Future archaeologist and adventurer, Bernice Summerfield, is the creation of top novelist, comics and TV writer Paul Cornell; an enthusiatic supporter of the Let's do it for ME campaign, having seen the devastating effects of ME first hand.  He has already done a lot to raise awareness by featuring characters with ME in his work.  Many Happy Returns was directed by John Ainsworth, Gary Russell and Scott Handcock; who also organised, produced, and generally ensured this happened. On its release in November, Scott had said:

'I was overwhelmed by how many people wanted to be involved with the project. Not only actors, but writers, sound designers, Toby at the Moat Studios - everyone! Everyone gave their time for Jac Rayner and her charity, Invest in ME, and this adventure has been truly worthwhile to pull together on every level!'

Upon receipt of the whopping cheque for £4454 earlier this week, Invest in ME said:

"This is quite an amazing achievement on top of what Scott already raised with his marathon running. It is a privilege to be supported by such generous people like Scott and his colleagues".
Many Happy Returns featured in an article in BBC Dr. Who magazine in October - you can see it on our website here - and you can see photos of Let's do it for ME Bear meeting some of the wonderful writers and cast in the photo gallery here

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this production and to all supporting it!

You might also like: 

Justyce Served
- A Small Start with a Big Finish - a book by Alun Harris and Matt West about the early days of Audio Visuals: Audio Adventures in Time & Space - the majority of the creative team went on to be involved with Big Finish.  The authors' profits from this book will be donated to Amnesty International and Invest in ME.

Running To Stand Still - an audio play about M.E. written by Barnaby Eaton-Jones. 

11 April 2013

The Big Shave 2013 - Sharon Hollier

"Hi, my name is Sharon Hollier. I am in my 40's and live in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

I first was diagnosed with M.E. in 2000 and in 2004 I managed my symptoms so well that I was able to work part time but started relapsing in 2008 and had to give up working in 2010.

My teenage son had to give up school at the age of 12 because he also has M.E. He uses the internet on his computer to learn, research, play and communicate with his friends in their homes. I have always wanted to do something crazy for an M.E. charity and was inspired by Jessie J, on Comic Relief, to have my head shaved like hers. I'm having my hair shaved to a number one on the trimmers, not going totally bald.

My regular hair dresser will be doing the deed in her salon on Sunday 12th May 3pm at Cut Loose Hair Dressers, Hertford. I have been through a lot since I first had my hair cut there. I've also been through many different styles and colours. Tarnia (the proprietor) and her staff have always been supportive. I feel that as they have been there with me through my ups and downs, it would be appropriate to let them shave my hair.

I get quite emotional going to other charity events and thinking that my son is house bound with M.E. and there is little that could be done for him. This is my chance to raise some money and awareness for an M.E. Charity. 

So note it in your diary: My Big Shave will be 12th May at 3pm at Cut Loose hair salon, 30 Fleming Crescent, Hertford, SG14 2DJ.

To support Sharon's Big Shave on JustGiving, click here ..

To text a donation use the code TBSI99 (that's the letter I) 
and the amount £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10
to 70070

Remember that an extra 25% in Gift Aid is added to your donation if you are a UK tax-payer.

Please see the The Big Shave 2013 website for more details of this event for M.E. awareness week 6th - 12th May 2013 and if you would like to take part. Amy Hanson urged, "Please share with your friends, family, neighbours, even the neighbours dog! It would be great to raise as much as possible".


5 April 2013

The Big Sleep for M.E. is back for 2013!

Following the great success of last year’s event, The Big Sleep for M.E. is back for 2013. And this year with your help, it’s going to be even bigger and better! This fun and inclusive awareness and fundraising event for the UK Centre of Excellence for ME, includes a mass sleepathon that runs throughout ME Awareness Week 6 – May, as well as an opportunity to hold your own ‘sleep inspired’ event, such as PJ parties, PJ Pride Days and Sleepwalks, Sleep-cycles and more, so that even more people can get involved.

The ‘Sleepathon’ is extremely easy and flexible to take part in and means that anyone, even those with severe ME, can do their bit. All you need to do is lie back, make yourself comfortable, and, if you really want to, sleep! Do it at home or anywhere that takes your fancy, either on your own or as a group. And if you feel like it, dress up for the occasion. If fundraising, just get people to sponsor you, and for awareness, just let others know you’re taking part. The same applies if you are holding your own ‘sleep inspired’ event.

Whilst the Sleepathon takes part during ME Awareness week this doesn’t mean you can’t have your own sleepathon or ‘sleep inspired’ event at other times of the year. We need to keep up the pace if we’re going to beat ME!

The Big Sleep for ME has expanded massively since last year, and to get in the party mood it will be running a number of competitions and special events, including ones for children. There’s even a special Kids’ Den webpage for children with activities and competitions. It’s a fun way for them to get involved and keep them busy.

The event now also has its own online shop where you can buy Big Sleep merchandise such as sleepwear, tops and, the very popular Big Sleep Bear, that comes complete with his very own nightcap. For those on a budget, there are free stickers and transfer downloads.

The Big Sleep for ME was set up to fill the need for a completely inclusive ME event that anyone, including those with severe ME, could take part in. Given the limitations severe ME imposes, a great deal of thought went into what kind of event could take place. In the end, the solution was so obvious. Since, many with ME have to spend a lot of time lying down either on a sofa or in bed and some sufferers are completely bedbound, why not turn this into something positive and have a mass sleepathon. The Big Sleep for ME was born! Whilst the event now encompasses all manner of ‘sleep inspired’ events and is about having fun, it also has a serious side which is to not only raise much needed awareness and fundraising for the Centre, but also to increase awareness of ME generally.

There are so many ways to get involved and the fantastic thing about The Big Sleep for ME is that everyone, from sufferers to healthy supporters, can unite together to do something positive for ME.

If you want to find out more, the event’s website is a good place to start. The event also has its own Facebook page and is on Twitter, you can also email them. If you fancy taking part, the team has set up a group JustGiving page which you can join to make it even easier for you, and there are extensive online tools and information to help as well. You need to register to take part, but as thank you, you’ll be entered into a Free Prize Draw. The team have introduced this to keep track of everyone and plan for future years.

If you can’t take part, but would like to support the event you can always sponsor someone you know, or make a donation to The Big Sleep for ME fundraising group via its JustGiving page or by texting BSME99 to 70070 with the amount you would like to give (for example BSME99 £5 to 70070).

With special thanks to Julia Cottam from our ‘Let’s do it for ME’ team for thinking this up, and for all the hard work she’s put into developing and launching this inclusive and positive venture, as well as to everyone taking part.

We can all make a difference to ME!

3 April 2013

Small charity - BIG Cause - Big Break!

Let's help Invest in ME try to win £2,000 for much-needed biomedical research into ME by voting for them in the Big Break in April.  To vote, just click on this link and click on the red button "vote for this cause". You can log in to vote with your Facebook or Google account or you can vote by post.   Voting ends 30th April. https://www.directdebit.co.uk/TheBigBreak/100GoodCauses/Pages/CauseDetail.aspx?CauseId=539  
You can only vote once so there's no need for daily voting - but to increase the chance of winning please share and tweet etc.  1st prize is £2,000.  2nd prize is £1,000 and a further £2,000 will be divided between the runners-up.  The Invest in ME biomedical research fund is currently at £88,100 and winning this would help us reach the initial £100,000 target of the Let's do it for ME campaign to fund the foundation research project at the University of East Anglia - please see our main website or Invest in ME for full details.    

Thank you for your support - Let's vote for Invest in ME!