By Angela L. Garratt
On the 21st January 2017, the Sutton Coldfield cancer support centre held a wellbeing day, of which we were asked to conduct a writing workshop. We did so on the theme of Flash Fiction. Although we only had a few people come to our workshop shop, the Oldbury Writing Group can rest assured that we helped and contributed to a much bigger day which consisted of over 400 people and the centre raised over £500.
The day itself consisted of a women’s choir, a snippet of the scouts Gang Show, market stalls, an art exhibition from creative Walsall, the launch of Ian Henry’s book, A Scout on a Bike, The Miracle of St. James, and refreshments.
Also present was Sutton Coldfield’s Local newspaper, for which the OWG was photographed.
One of the people that came to our workshop, which ended up being more like a centre for advice, was a scout leader named Christopher, he told us of a Sci-fi book he has started writing, and he needed some advice on what to do. The first bit of advice we gave him was to join a local writing group and that he is welcome to come along to ours whenever he can make it, otherwise he can keep in touch with us online, and we can support him with his writing just as we support each other.
We told him never to give up and to celebrate when he hits a milestone, like getting to his first 100 pages. We gave him advice on editing and asking someone to read his work before he feels it is reading to go out into the world alone and find a publisher. We spoke about the possibilities of self-publishing and gave him advice on finding an agent. Christopher left our room with inspiration and hopefully the will to continue writing.
Another person that came in was one who ran an art store in the centre for the day, his name was Fitz, and his art was brilliant. He worked with his wife, Debs. Fitz came in as an artist, and like a true artist, he wanted to have a go at expanding his imagination. So, we all took part in writing a short story, no more than 100 words. He was very interesting, and I made the point that if he put a line break at each comma, it could be a free verse poem because it read like one.
The Children’s Gang Show was very entertaining, and I wish that I could have seen more of it. The children sang beautifully, and it was great to see people of all ages taking part.
Creative Walsall shared a room with us; the art was in the form of fun sculptures. They were the kind of art that you just had to touch and play with and speaking to the artist that is exactly what it is meant to do, so our Nicole, as cheeky as she is, could not resist and it was quite obvious that she was having a lot of fun while playing with this type of modern art. Both Nicole and the sculptures put a smile on all our faces.
While we were at the centre, I bumped into a friend of mine. I am not going to mention his name as he was there in a personal capacity. My friend had had cancer, and he had just had the news that he was in remission. I could tell that he had been through the mill and it was obvious that cancer and the treatment had knocked him about. It was great to see him, but I wish he could have been there under better circumstances. I know the Oldbury Writing Group did not make a massive impact on the day, out of all the visitors that the centre had only a few came to us, but on that day the centre raised over £500 and that money will go towards helping people like my friend. For that reason, I am glad we were there, and I am glad we could support such a fantastic cause. I am proud of the Oldbury Writing Group for taking part in something that ended up having such a massive impact to help improve the life of others.
Everyone knows what it feels like to lose someone to cancer; it is one of the world’s biggest killers. I lost my dad, aunt, both granddads and my other aunt is in remission from breast cancer. There is nothing worse than either being told you have cancer or being told that a loved one does. So support centres, like the one in Sutton Coldfield, are essential for people who need them. Wellbeing days like this one raises a lot of money for them, and no matter how little, we were there to help them.