Dad to run length of son’s heart surgery

When Ellie Tyerman was 20 weeks pregnant, she and her husband Robin received the devastating news that their unborn son had a heart condition.

They went to the scan full of excitement, looking forward to hearing their baby’s heartbeat. But after a few appointments and referral to the children’s heart specialists at Leicester Royal Infirmary, their son Albie was diagnosed with TGA (Transposition of the Great Arteries). The condition is one where the two main blood vessels leaving the heart – the pulmonary artery and the aorta – are swapped over. 

“The feeling we felt during this process are indescribable,” says Ellie, 31, who lives in Derbyshire. “You never really hear about any 20-week scan having a bad outcome, so we were in shock with huge amounts of sadness and uncertainty.

“We couldn’t believe there was something wrong with our baby.”

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The Heart clinic at Leicester Royal were hugely supportive to Ellie and Robin. They gave them all the facts about the condition and what would happen after pregnancy. Despite it being hard to enjoy this time, the specialists made the couple feel informed and safe. 

A successful, 7-hour surgery

A few days after he was born, Albie successfully went through open surgery, which lasted more than seven hours – and he’s now a lively, 11-month-old boy.

Ellie and Robin couldn’t help but think they wanted to give back to the amazing team of doctors and nurses that saved their baby’s life.

So, they created Steps for Beats: a running fundraising challenge to see how many miles they can jointly accumulate during the same time as Albie’s heart surgery: 7 hours and 25 minutes. It’ll take place on Albie’s first birthday. 

The fundraising challenge will raise money for Heart Link, a charity founded in 1981 as a support organisation for parents and families who had a child with a heart condition. “It was my husband Robin that came up with the idea for the run,” says Ellie. 

“Robin is running the length of the surgery to try and say thank you to the all who helped Albie on the day of his surgery, as well as the 19 days that he was in hospital for. He will also be joined by anyone that would like to support our cause.

“Many of Albie’s honorary aunties and uncles will also be running with robin on the day and make their own ‘steps for beats’.”

‘The support we received was remarkable’

The charity is hugely important to the couple. “It not only saved Albie’s life, but the support Robin and I received as new parents going through this trauma was remarkable,” says Ellie. 

“From the support through the diagnosis, to the warmth and care the staff gave us in the NICU and on the ward was truly heartwarming. Albie was their job, their priority, but each member of staff gave Robin and I the emotional support to get us through the hardest weeks of our lives. 

“We want to raise awareness of the incredible staff and makes sure they have the resources to support other families that have to go through similar situations.”

Albie: a bouncy baby, one year on

“Albie is nearly one and the light of our lives,” says Ellie. “He is a happy, bouncy, and very adventurous little boy. He is crawling, standing, and doing everything a boy his age should do. 

“For such a hard start in life, you only realise what he has been through when you see his scar. His scar runs from under his chin to just above his belly button and is faint in colour now. I think he will enjoy showing it off to his friends at school when he tells them he was attacked by a shark. 

“Albie and the experience Robin and I have been through has changed our lives for the better.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can donate to Ellie and Robin’s JustGiving page to help them raise money for Heart Link. 

FIND OUT MORE: Learn more about Heart Link and how else you can offer support to the charity.


Cyclists smash world record and raise £18k

A team of cyclists riding a famous 865-mile stretch to raise money for cancer have taken their fundraising to another level by breaking a Guinness World Record.

The university friends finished their cycling challenge from John O’Groats to Land’s End on a 7-seater conference bike on Sunday 29 May.

The previous Guinness World Record for the same route travelled on a conference bike was set in 2010, by a team of 194 people taking over 28 days.

Cycling team ‘The Magnificent Seven’ have completed the challenge in just 5 days, 21 hours and with 15 core riders. “Despite most of the team being experienced riders, it took a lot of mental as well as physical energy to keep going – especially through the nights,” says Colin Bolton, a member of team ‘Magnificent Seven’.

“The generous donations and the truly inspiring work that Cyclists Fighting Cancer does to support children and families living with cancer kept us pedalling until the very end!”

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They smashed the world record whilst raising money for UK charity, Cyclists Fighting Cancer.

Approximately 2,400 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK. Cyclists Fighting Cancer (CFC) was founded in 2005 by CEO Mike Grisenthwaite after his own five year battle with blood cancer, to support children going through similar experiences. 

The charity provides a unique and highly effective way of helping kids with cancer through activity and exercise – and the main branch of their work is providing free bikes and trikes to children and teenagers who are cancer patients, and 8,000 bikes have been given out so far. 

£18,000 and counting

The Magnificent Seven have raised almost £18,000 so far and are still collecting donations as they wind down from their record-breaking journey.

“We are so impressed by the team’s mammoth achievement and efforts in completing their challenge,” says Mike Grisenthwaite, the founder and CEO of Cyclists Fighting Cancer.

We are also grateful for their wonderful fundraising efforts: the team has raised over £18,000 so far, which will fund over 36 new lightweight bikes, tandems and specially adapted trikes to children and young people living with and beyond cancer.”

Other team members included Mike Summerfield, Paul Berry, Graham Hunter, Andrew Nesling, Nic Burridge, Richard Falconer, Hugh Williamson, Colin Bolton, Mark Wilson, Jeff Kapp, Ed Greig and Matthew Belmonte, as well as support crew Chris Harvey, Andy Bolton and Rob Wilson.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To make a donation to team Magnificent Seven’s challenge, visit their fundraising page.

SUPPORT: To find out more about what Cyclists Fighting Cancer do to support children around the UK, visit their website.


Tesco first to ban all plastic baby wipes

Tesco says it has become the first major UK retailer to ban plastic-based baby wipes from its stores. 

As Tesco stopped using plastic in its own label baby wipes two years ago, the entire range will now be plastic-free.  The move is significant as Tesco sells more than 75 million packs or 4.8 billion individual baby wipes each year.   

It’s not just baby wipes that have been reformulated by the supermarket, all branded and own-label wipes in UK stores – bar one – are now plastic free. 

Plastic-free wipes include moist toilet tissue and general cleaning wipes. There is only one type of wipe available at Tesco that contains plastic, a pet wipe, which will be plastic-free by the end of the year. 

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Tesco started to make its own-label wet wipes plastic-free in 2020 and has since been switching to bio-degradable viscose as it breaks down far quicker. 

Tesco Group Quality Director Sarah Bradbury said: “We have worked hard to remove plastic from our wipes as we know how long they take to break down.”

“There is no need for wet wipes to contain plastic so from now on we will no longer stock them if they do.”

In addition to being plastic-free, Tesco’s moist toilet tissue wipes are certified and labelled as ‘fine to flush’. Non-flushable wipes stocked by the supermarket are clearly labelled as ‘do not flush’.

This comes as a part of Tesco’s 4Rs packaging strategy to tackle the impact of plastic waste. This means Tesco removes plastic where it can, reduces where it can’t, looks at ways to reuse more and recycle what’s left.

Since the strategy started in August 2019, Tesco has reduced its packaging by 6000 tonnes, including the removal of 1.5bn pieces of plastic. It has also launched a reusable packaging trial with Loop and launched soft plastic collection points in over 900 stores.  

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Diet-related greenhouse gases down 35% in US

Greenhouse gases come from a handful of different sources like cars, production, and power. But one often forgotten greenhouse producer comes from agriculture – and more specifically, animals like cows and pigs.

Livestock production accounts for about 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, primarily with methane and nitrous oxide. But in the US, there’s been a gradual shift away from these. 

Diets in the United States has seen a steady change over the last 15 years, something that’s led to a decrease in greenhouse gases. The primary cause of diet-related greenhouse gases was cattle, and the US diet has been gradually shifting away from beef. 

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Data from a national dietary survey of US adults has suggested that over a 15-year period from 2003 to 2018, US adults consume about 40% less beef than they did previously. There was also a slow move away from other animal products like milk, eggs, and other meats, while adults maintained a relatively consistent caloric intake suggesting a move to plant-based replacements. 

Companies like Impossible Foods represent a growing trend in diets to move away from meats, with fast-food chains like Burger King and KFC even offering plant-based alternatives. 

“From a nutritional standpoint, our products match the protein quality and content of the animal products that they replace,” Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick Brown told CNBC in a 2020 interview. “Ours is a clear winner from a health and nutrition standpoint.”

The survey itself highlights that US meat consumption is not sustainable for a net-zero future.

“(Greenhouse Gas) trends in the US diet are both exceeding planetary boundaries and capable of substantial impact reduction through changes in dietary patterns,” the survey read.

Inspired to act?

HELP SOLVE HUNGER: Check out A Well-Fed World. They offer solutions to world hunger with plant-based options.  

GET INVOLVED: Find out about the nonprofit’s Plants4Hunger initiative


Breathtaking art spotlights climate solutions

What might our world look like if we are to safeguard a future for all species? This is the question explored through art, music, science and technology at The Barbican’s exhibition, Our Time On Earth, on show until 29 August.

Eschewing the doomism of much climate dialogue, the exhibition displays ideas to solve problems relating to global heating and ecological decline. 

It engages viewers with interactive animations, 3-D models, textiles and other thought-provoking exhibits. Rather than prioritising any particular climate solution, it offers a melange of indigenous practices, innovative technology and creative design.

Guest curators Kate Franklin and Caroline Till said: ‘There is more scientific evidence than ever demonstrating the amplitude of the climate emergency. And the science is essential – there’s no doubt about that.” 

They added: “But art, design and culture have the power to move us, and creative propositions of the sort we have gathered within Our Time on Earth aim to seduce the visitor into another way of seeing – another way of being. They invite us to listen, to feel, to really see, what it could be like to live and thrive in an alternative and positive future’.”

[Discover other incredible initiatives encouraging and organising for climate action]

Entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by the sight of an extraordinary graphic merging photography of a tree with an animation that shows the movement of nutrients and water through its being.

Throughout the rest of the space, ideas are shared via intricate chinaware, elaborate textiles, a socially-conscious video game, samples of sustainable materials and many other media. 

Stéphan La Roche, CEO of Musée de la civilisation, a Barbican partner, said: ‘This exhibition calls on the power of reflection and imagination of contemporary artists as well as visitors.”

But not only does the exhibition provoke thought. It also makes an explicit call for action. In the final room of the first section, videos show young people explaining how they are taking action against the climate and ecological emergency. While a plaque on the wall urges each visitor to find their place in the climate movement.

The gallery is also urging its sponsors to raise their ambitions around tackling climate change. These include Zara, one of the world’s biggest fast fashion culprits; and The City of London, which, if it were a country, would be the ninth biggest emitter of CO2 in the world.

Inspired to act?

ATTEND: Get inspired by all kinds of thoughtful climate solutions. Visit Our Time On Earth at The Barbican.



Vintage pics recreated with celebs for charity

A pet charity has teamed up with three animal-loving celebrities to recreate some timeless images from its heritage in celebration of its 125-year anniversary. 

To commemorate 125 years of helping pets and people, Blue Cross has recreated four of its most loved photos dating back to WWII and WWI.

Celebrities Bill Bailey, David Harewood MBE, and Paralympian Lauren Steadman MBE (with her rescue dog Kira) all chipped in to take part.

“We are delighted to share these recreated historic images with our supporters, beneficiaries, and the British public,” said Iain Heaton, Deputy CEO and CFO at Blue Cross.

“Since Blue Cross’ formation in 1897, we have been present for both people and pets during key moments in history, and we continue to support them through our veterinary, rehoming and behavioural services to this very day.”

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Speaking about taking part, Lauren said: “It was wonderful to have my beautiful dog Kira on set with me to create this image of a WWI nurse treating a wounded dog. Kira is a rescue dog, so I have a huge appreciation for the work that Blue Cross and pet charities do.”

Actor Bill Bailey recreated an image of a Pearly King posing with a rescued horse saved from slaughter in the early 1900s.

“It was great fun being a Pearly King for a day, and a fitting way to acknowledge the heritage of the Blue Cross, and to highlight their wonderful support for horses and other animals that has continued to this day,” he said.

“Congratulations Blue Cross on reaching your 125 milestone, and a heartfelt thank you for all that you do for both pets and people.”

How does the Blue Cross support pets?

Blue Cross offers many services across the UK, from adoption services and pet education, to supporting families with pet bereavement and leading animal rights campaigns. 

“Our job is not done, and we are needed today more than ever,” added Iain. “So, as well as celebrating our illustrious heritage, we hope that this campaign helps to drive further awareness and understanding of our cause.”

Originally known as ‘Our Dumb Friends League’, Blue Cross was formed in 1897 to help the working horses of London, who were often underfed, struggled to carry heavy loads and became injured on slippery asphalt roads created for new motor vehicles. 

Since its launch, the charity estimates it has positively impacted 38 million lives and it plans to help more than 120,000 pets over the next three years through its services.

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: Blue Cross relies on the support and donations of pet lovers to continue our vital work, find out more and make a donation


Seven volunteers encouraging climate action

Cass Hebron was working at the heart of what she calls the “Brussels bubble” when she realised people outside this sphere were cut off from opportunities to take climate action. To pop the bubble and share updates about the climate movement, she launched a newsletter called The Green Fix.

As a member of Oxfam’s media team, Cass was plugged into discussions about ways to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. She decided to make climate advocacy more accessible to people not working in Brussels.

“Really impulsively, I started this newsletter,” she tells Smiley News. “I didn’t plan it much. I just wanted to make climate action more understandable, so you don’t need to be an expert to know what’s going on.”

A green dream team

Whenever she had the time, she would send out newsletters offering insights into the various kinds of climate action available. These ranged from youth-led protest movements to conservation groups. Writing for the layperson, she decyphered different approaches to environmentalism and the steps individuals can take to engage with environmentalism.

As her audience grew and Cass juggled the newsletter with freelance work, it began to dawn on her that she could not sustain the newsletter without help. Eventually, she published a callout for volunteers to join her.

“I thought I’d just get one response,” she recalls laughing. “But instead I got messages from seven people. So I realised I could create a team to help me with all the different aspects of the newsletter.”

Two campaigners, Myriam Gambini and Issy Poutney agreed to run social media. A student journalist called Samuel Teale Chadwick, came forward to help edit, and a Brussels policy officer, Martina Razzaboni, volunteered to organise funding and partnerships. They were joined by a keen environmentalist, Alexandra Vazquez Mera and a climate activist, Lisa Bergmann.

An intersectional approach

Together, the team curates the newsletter so that it broadens the discussion on how to tackle the climate crisis. For them, this implies opening up a conversation rather than a one-way stream of information.

Cass explains: “It’s very important to make any discussion about climate action more of a conversation and not an announcement or notice board.”

It was also vital to the team that the newsletter pays tribute to the many diverse groups of people interested in climate action.

“We make it a priority to try and interview campaigners from underrepresented backgrounds to try and restore a bit of a balance to the climate discourse,” says Cass.

Myriam adds: “I wish for the climate movement to be intersectional and encompass the diversity of the people and groups wanting to engage in climate action. Ultimately, there can’t be climate justice without racial equity, indigenous rights and the rights of future generations.”

Since forming a team, Cass has seen The Green Fix evolve into much more than she could ever have imagined. 

“I don’t think I’d be running the newsletter without a team,” she says. “Each volunteer is involved in their own separate campaign or passion project so they are already doing so much. But they still have the energy to help someone else’s project and I think that’s really inspiring.”

Inspired to act?

SIGN UP: To hear about exciting climate solutions from Cass and her team, sign up to The Green Fix.



This community is uniting to grow free food

In May 2022, an initiative sprouted in southeast London led by services manager Andrea Ingrassia, to help families with young children grow food. He employed Fred Hoad, a seasoned gardener and holistic designer, who visited estates in Peckham to teach parents about sustainable food growing techniques.

Grow Your Own started as a small project as part of the family support offered by Peckham, Peckham Rye and Nunhead Children and Family Centres.

What began in one estate quickly blossomed as word spread and nearby communities approached the eco-minded duo asking for similar projects in their own estates.

“Grow Your Own is important because it allows people to save a bit of money and a bit of the planet by planting their own food,” Fred tells Smiley News.

Andrea adds: “I think this project gives the message that if every one of us does a little bit maybe we can change things for the better.”

In a courtyard surrounded by tower blocks, Fred started by installing wooden planters he had built entirely from natural materials. In each one, locals could cultivate greens, fruits and vegetables to feed whoever chose to tend and harvest the garden.

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Families gathered to hear how to grow food in sustainable ways as well as how to produce compost and mulch. They discussed ways they could create a green space and food source in their home, whether it be in a garden, a balcony, a windowsill or a terrace. Then the parents and children got stuck in, digging the soil, planting seedlings and piling mulch around them till they had their own plot of food growing.

“Soon, people from another estate called us because they wanted to do the same,” says Andrea. “We had some money left over from the Community Lottery Fund, so we decided to build planters on their estate too.

“Then people from yet another estate approached us and we realised that the word was spreading and people were getting really interested.”

After building planters and raised gardens across a number of neighbourhoods in southeast London, Andrea and Fred hope to work with communities to maintain the gardens so that they continue to yield food. They intend to set up management committees to run the gardens and ensure their upkeep, while Fred will continue to support the budding gardeners.

Inspired to act?

JOIN IN: To learn how to grow your own food in southeast London, come along to one of the upcoming Grow Your Own workshops. Find further details via Peckham, Peckham Rye and  Nunhead Children and Family Centres.



These groups recycle the “unrecyclable”

You might know the best way to recycle your household waste – but what happens when you come across packaging that is destined for the landfill? Well, don’t assume it can’t be recycled.

TerraCycle recycles “unrecyclable” products and packaging – the things councils don’t collect to be recycled. They do this by partnering with household name brands who sponsor free recycling programmes for members of the public to sign up to.

Anyone can set up drop-off points on behalf of their entire communities for this waste to help them recycle more – including everyday waste like biscuit wrappers, crisp and snack packets, personal care waste, and home care products.

For each parcel of waste these drop-off points sent in, TerraCycle and their brand partners award a monetary donation to the charities, schools or non-profits of their choice. “Some members of the public have raised tens of thousands of pounds by sending their waste to us,” they say. Here are two examples of that. 

The primary school enriching children’s education

Claire Holmes, pastoral lead at Langafel CE Primary School, has raised more than £850 in donations to fund personalised resources that support the mental and social wellbeing of pupils by collecting “hard-to-recycle” waste at the school. Together with the school and local community, she has collected more than 111,294 units of waste. 

For each unit of waste collected, TerraCycle points are redeemed as monetary donations to the Friends of Langafel School (FOLs). The donations fund personalised resources bought to suit individual children’s requirements including games, books, puppets and toys. “Being able to raise extra funds to support this whilst recycling a whole host of waste that the local council can’t accept means that by dropping off your waste to our location, you’re not only doing something great for the environment, but our school community too,” said Claire. 

The collected waste she sends in to TerraCycle is recycled by shredding, cleaning and turning into a pellet format which can then be used by manufacturers to create new generic plastic products such as outdoor furniture, lumber and construction applications reducing the need to extract new resources from the planet.

The fancy dress shop supporting charity

Master of Disguise, an Isle of Wight fancy dress and film collectable shop, raised more than £1,500 for local charities including the Footprint Trust by collecting “unrecyclable” waste from the community. The waste collected ranged from writing instruments to confectionery and cheese wrappers, plastic toys and much more. This waste is not included in council kerbside recycling collections so has traditionally been destined for landfill or incineration.

Once dropped off at the shop, the waste was recycled by TerraCycle. For every unit of waste collected, TerraCycle points were redeemed as monetary donations to the Footprint Trust, a charity that specialises in helping the Isle of Wight community reduce their energy consumption, cutting emissions whilst helping those in fuel poverty to stay warm.

Co-owner of Master of Disguise, Lorraine, said: “As a business serving the community, we feel we have a responsibility to give everyone access to resources that help protect the planet and our island. TerraCycle’s programmes play an important role in this as they allow the community to recycle the items that the council doesn’t collect.”

Inspired to act?

GET INVOLVED: Do you want to become a recycling champion in your community? Find out more

RECYCLE MORE: Find out where local recycling collections are to you, to help reduce the amount going to landfill. 


Social enterprise tackles UK rescue dog crisis

The UK is in the midst of a dog welfare crisis. Dogs are being handed into rescue and rehoming centres in alarming numbers – which means one in four centres are facing having to turn them away.

That’s why London-based husband and wife team Giuseppe and Kimberley want to do something about it. 

They’ve launched muthapuppa, a purpose-driven social enterprise to tackle the problem head-on. Its mission is to build the first of many rescue and rehoming centres for dogs, to provide help on the ground and take pressure off existing centres.

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Moving beyond the traditional donation model, online dog store will act as the central driver of the enterprise, with 100% of profits going towards the mission of dog rescue.

The products for dogs are sustainable and include everyday essentials such as treats, chews and poop bags, as well as toys – and many muthapuppa suppliers have also pledged to donate a percentage of their time, sales or profits to social good causes.

“UK rescue and rehoming centres are overwhelmed, and it’s incredibly saddening to see millions of dogs out there homeless, sick or suffering from abuse,” said Kim and Giuseppe. 

“muthapuppa seeks to combine purpose and profit to help support rescue efforts, while partnering with likeminded businesses to provide dog owners with high quality, sustainable products.

“The enterprise is entirely self-funded by us; we’re not wealthy, have no investors and have put everything on the line, so we’re 100% reliant on public support.”

Supporting rescue and rehoming centres

muthapuppa pledges to support existing UK rescue and rehoming centres in 2022 through both its profits and donations:

1% of profits go to Blue Cross via Work for Good

1% of profits go to All Dogs Matter via Work for Good

1% of profits go to Battersea Dogs Home via Work for Good

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can donate to the muthapuppa JustGiving page – they’re on a mission to crowdfund £50,000.