The Major Series North Team

THE MAJOR SERIES NORTH - NO MUD NO GLORY!

Earlier this month we had 125 brave people running 10km through swamps, mud, water, fire and countless other mad obstacles for the charity in the Major Series. Four of our trustees, including Oscar's mum, ran the course and there was a lot of laughing, falling and struggling going on.

We’re very proud that this is our biggest fundraiser yet with an amazing £20k donated by the family, friends and colleagues of our runners. Our group was the biggest ever in the history of the Major Series which was an equally proud moment.

We are extremely grateful to Sewell Group who sponsored this event for us and we all ran proudly in t-shirts showing the Sewells logo and our logos, both of which stood out in great contrast to all the mud!

Sewel Group

Please have a look at some pictures from the day here:

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Running with Oscar

Earlier this month I joined 124 fantastic people to take on the challenge that is The Major Series North. This is a 10km run through thick and deep mud, adding in lots of strange, fun and hard-core obstacles. Training had been a little slow for me – it is not easy training when you have a big family and a 6 month old baby - but I can’t make too many excuses as I am lucky enough to have friends around me who will happily sit with my very smiley son (I secretly think he is the happiest baby ever, which really is strange considering the family he has entered, but perhaps there’s some meaning to be found in that).

I had fully expected to go at a leisurely pace and share some fun ‘falling in mud moments’ with friends but instead I ended up running mostly on my own. You see, there was a warm up at the beginning and the ‘Major’ said a few words about the charity, as we are the biggest team they have ever had participating. Had I just looked straight at him and done the warm up I might have been ok, but as he spoke I turned around to look at the whole group.

Seeing all 125 runners in OSCAR’s t-shirts really got to me.  Many of them were friends, or friends of friends, some were total strangers, and the realisation of what we have been doing for the past two years suddenly hit me.  All these people were there to show that they care – they care about our family, they care about Oscar, they care about all the children now and yet to come with brain tumours, they care about making a difference, and they’ve all trained for months and travelled to be there to support us.

The feeling was overwhelming but inspiring, and of course as ever the double-edged sword of ‘if only’.  If only he was here to watch us, if only he was here to support us, if only he was here to enjoy the run with us – because he would have, he would have run as fast as he could and he would not have stopped until the end.

And as I set off I could feel him running with me, so instead of running with friends I ran alone, just Oscar and I. And I laughed through most of it, a rare two hours for me of pure Oscar indulgence doing what he would have loved - pushing myself, working hard and laughing.

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Oscar Hughes

Oscar's 11th birthday

This month it is two years ago I last celebrated Oscar’s birthday with him and I find myself trying so hard to be normal that I have to remind myself that it is ok to grieve and that it is important that I sit down and think about my boy. Every day is hard but the run up to big family occasions like Oscar’s birthday is even harder. But grieving is not only ok, it is something I need to do - take time every day and dedicate that time to Oscar, mentally going through what has happened, why it has happened, why I can't change it and why I must accept it and how I can keep going. And it is mind blowingly tiresome, both mentally and physically, but there is no way around it. I still cry every day, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.

This is one of the hardest parts to explain about losing a child - it is not a wish to keep torturing ones self, it is just unavoidable. And it is definitely easier to pretend to friends, family and people around you that you are coping, because not only does it stop the pity looks and comments, it stops the focus on you as the parent who lost a child, the one you have to tread carefully around. And herein lies a big problem - because I am fragile, yet I don't want to be treated as fragile. I am in pain, yet I don't want people acknowledging my pain all the time. I want to pretend all is normal, yet nothing really is. I want to go out and have fun, but when I try an emptiness comes over me and I look at the people I surround myself with, whose whole lives evolves around them having fun and I can't feel the fun - although I think that I hope it rubs off on me. I am there physically but I might as well be sat watching a show; the chat, the laughter - it just doesn't penetrate the world I often retreat to.

I am aware I have to keep trying to find the joy in everyday life. And I do feel happy when the five of us are together - me and Ian and our three boys -but that is too much pressure on them, particularly the boys, if for life they are my sole source of happiness. I cope well in one to one situations as well because I am forced to "be present" and probably one day I will get better at big groups again. Until then those close to me will just have to tell themselves that it is nothing personal when I don't howl with laughter with them. If I am there it is because I choose to be and that is as good as it gets for and from me for a while. There will be no quick fix - grieving parents are far beyond fairy tales.


oscar_one_hand_pushup

A New Year

It is 2016, and I can no longer say “my son died last year” – I didn’t know that something like that would upset me, but it has. He died in May 2014 but I still have his memory so vividly playing in my mind and I am suddenly, with the start of a new year, reminded of how long Oscar has been gone from this earth for. I have no idea how to continue yet another year without him. Will the start of a new year continue to baffle me or will this also become my new normal?

We spent New Year’s Eve with close friends and kids this year after a lovely family time in Denmark at Christmas. Our friends very cleverly and thoughtfully turned the start of New Year’s Eve into a small surprise birthday celebration for me as it was the first time they’d seen me since I turned 40 on Christmas Day. I never cease to be amazed by the people surrounding us. There is no handbook to how you help parents who have lost a child so I am pretty sure they are having to make it all up as they go along.

It was still a tough evening and one during which I would go and spend time with Milo. Sitting in a dark quiet room (music in the distant background) looking at a sleeping baby is bound to get anyone contemplating life and I am no different. I thought of Oscar and all the life he enjoyed and I promised myself and him that I would take him with me everywhere I go. I am not afraid to admit that there are times I give up and let go – just for little moments at a time.

It is in those moments I am thankfully always reminded of Oscar’s strength and character, and if I didn’t have this I’d always be down. He deserves that I keep standing up and fighting. He deserves always, that I and everyone else remember his happiness in life. I will undoubtedly keep the tears flowing for the rest of my life, but Oscar will be defined by happiness, not tears, and by achievements and celebrations, not sadness.

Give it all you’ve got, cause’ you’ve really got a lot, give it heart, give it soul, give it mind – don’t stop. This is what Oscar used to sing and what I will soon be singing as I have decided to challenge myself and make Oscar proud this year through various sporting events for our charity. We haven’t finished yet – we will keep fighting for all the other children out there and for Oscar himself. Oscar’s story does not end…..


oscar_brother

You. My answer will always be you when they ask what I am thinking about.

This will be our second Christmas without Oscar and it is filled with conflicting emotions; it is Milo's first Christmas and my 40th birthday, but it is also the first Christmas where we are no longer numbed by the shock of losing Oscar. You see, what I didn't realise is that the first year is not the hardest - you assume it is because of all these things you have to do as a first without your loved one. But the hardest is now and forever, when you realise you don't just have to go through the "first Christmas without, the first birthday without, the first school run without, the first holiday without" This is our forever without Oscar, every day and every milestone for our family.

Ian and I went Christmas shopping with Milo the other day and I had written a list of the usual suspects that I still needed presents for. What I didn't realise was that Lucas had taken it upon himself to correct my list with his Christmas wishes as he and his brothers were missing off it. So there was Seb getting feefer ponts (FIFA points), Lucas wanting mach artax (Match Attax) and Milo having sox (a pair of socks I guess, not an exciting Christmas for him!) and then there was Oscar on his list, with just 'Oscar back' written after his name.

A few days earlier we had gone to town for a family day out just enjoying the Christmas atmosphere. Later that night Seb asked how we would have done that if Oscar had still been here. I wasn't really sure what he meant, so he explained that with Milo's pram in the back of the car there wouldn't have been room for Oscar so how would we have gone to town as a family?

It is not only Ian and I who have Oscar in our mind with everything that we do, the boys thankfully (but painfully) have, too. It seems a blessed pain we will all have to live with for life.


The Major Series 2015

THE MAJOR SERIES NORTH

Last year we had a number of runners in the Major Series North running for the charity. The day was so much fun that we’ve decided to do it again - on Sunday March 20th 2016 at Bramham Park, Leeds. We have over 80 people already confirmed to do the 10k run for us, but we want more.

Brand new for 2016, the course will feature surprise ‘concept zones’ which will immerse you in awesome military themes. You’ll be transported off into another world, as your senses are bombarded with smoke, explosions, unexpected smells, sounds or music.

More info on the obstacles here https://www.britmilfit.com/major-series/events/north/ but suffice to say you’ll get very wet, very muddy and have a lot of fun!

Although it’s a 10k run, the obstacles in between the running mean that you don’t need to be able to run a full 10k. Last year we had people walk the whole distance. How you tackle the course is entirely up to you – race your friends to see who can finish first, take your time and enjoy the view, or do it with a group of friends at your own pace. It’ll be lots of fun however you approach it.

The charity will cover your cost of entry (usually £45) and you’ll receive a winner’s medal, OSCAR’s PBTC t-shirt to run in as well as a Major Series t-shirt to get changed into after. All we ask is that you try raise enough money to at least cover the cost of your entry.

If you want to get involved in this brilliant event (over 17s only) email

marie@oscarspbtc.org


Ian Pryer presents award to Marie Hughes

WHAT A NIGHT!

Last night I wrapped up my baby and took him out on the town for his first night out - it was a night I just couldn’t miss. My friends, all trustees of the charity too, joined Milo and I, which turned out brilliantly for me as it meant I could sit back and relax whilst sending them off walking the pram after feeds or rocking Milo to the clapping and music. As always they were right there next to me at what turned out to be a very emotional and inspirational evening.

We were invited to York Racecourse to celebrate “York’s unsung heroes” and I was up for an award as Charity Fundraiser of the Year. I am pleased to say I won the award, but I can’t take all the credit. The ceremony was for Community Pride and that is very poignant, as what I have been part of achieving could not have been done without the fantastic community we have around us. We have friends, family and businesses around us who all support us and I dedicate this award to all of you.

The work I do with the charity would not be possible without everyone chipping in, be it as a friend for me to run things by; trustees with ideas, hard work and support; fundraisers at various events; supporters showing that they believe in the charity by donating; family giving time and encouragement; or businesses showing their support and creating awareness of us.
However, as with everything I do these days, there is always the bittersweet twist to it. How amazing to be here and be part of this, but how sad that Oscar isn’t standing next to me and doing this with me. Two years ago, he won Child of the Year at these same awards for his fundraising efforts to help other children in the same situation as him, and now we all continue this in his spirit. Please read through the nomination letter below that was sent to the Community Pride committee – the person who nominated me knows me well and has captured the inspiration that was Oscar!!

MARIE’S NOMINATION LETTER

Marie Hughes lost her son Oscar to a brain tumour last year when he was just 9 years old. Oscar was diagnosed in February 2013, just before his 8th birthday. Following an operation to remove the tumour, Oscar had to undergo a difficult and gruelling six weeks of daily chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and a further 12 months of chemotherapy.
In March 2014, as he was nearing the end of his treatment, Oscar relapsed. There was a small chance of getting him onto a trial that could have saved his life so Oscar’s family and friends, led by Marie, launched an appeal to raise money. It brought in £40,000 in less than a fortnight. Sadly Oscar died in early May, but since his death Marie has devoted her time to setting up a charity in his name. The charity aims to fund much needed research into paediatric brain tumours. It’s called OSCAR’s (Ongoing Support Care And Research) Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity (www.oscarspbtc.org) and it launched in November 2014, just over six months after Oscar died. In under a year, Marie tripled the £40,000 to £120,000.
The charity will partner with national charities including The Brain Tumour Charity, as well as local Yorkshire cancer organisations, to fund research that is looking to find a cure and also less devastating forms of treatment for all children who are diagnosed. Marie announced the charity’s first major research project in April this year, a partnership with The Brain Tumour Charity and Cancer Research UK, which will look at delivering chemotherapy drugs directly into the brains of children with recurrent tumours, rather than orally or intravenously as usually happens.
While the purpose of the charity is to raise money towards research into paediatric brain tumours, Marie has also worked hard to ensure that the way the charity raises money is fun, innovative and also involves children. It was important to Oscar, even while he was going through chemotherapy, that he continued to play sports and show his friends and his two brothers the importance of exercise. The fundraising and awareness building methods that Marie is using ensure that Oscar’s spirit is at the heart of everything the charity does.
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Ian Pryer presents award to Marie Hughes
Ian Pryer presents award to Marie Hughes
Community Fundraiser of the Year 2015
Community Fundraiser of the Year 2015

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Community Fundraiser of the Year 2015
Community Fundraiser of the Year 2015
Community Fundraiser of the Year 2015
Community Fundraiser of the Year 2015
Community Pride Awards
Community Pride Awards

You don't have to live forever, you just have to live

I have been nervous for about six months now - this little life I have been feeling inside me would be joining our family, but it is a broken family. No amount of pushing for new happiness can repair the loss we feel. Is it unfair to an innocent beautiful baby to come into this. And how would Oscar feel? Yes, I know it sounds silly, but I still wonder if Oscar knew what we were doing, would it upset him, make him happy, is it fair to him? And therein lies the nervousness and uncertainty. Because how do you bring another child into this world whilst still grieving and missing your dead child?

Turns out you just do. As with everything else in our life our family chooses to just do and get on with it, something I am immensely proud of. You see this is most definitely in Oscar's spirit. Oscar was spectacular in his approach to life: just keep going, don't question everything, give it all you've got.

So it is with indescribable pleasure and joy we welcomed our baby boy into this world last month. He may have entered a somewhat broken family, but he will learn with the rest of us to take pleasure and joy in all that he can, whilst trying to deal with the rest of us handling the overwhelming sadness of a boy who would once again have taken on the big brother role with his magical smile.

Our little Milo is missing out on the beautiful experience of having Oscar sing to him, make jokes with him, play spaceships with him, teach him football and tennis and so much more. But he has his other brothers and us. We are Oscar's family and we will keep being who we are, keep pushing for a joyful life and it turns out that nothing can make nervousness and fear disappear like a cuddle and a look into a newborn baby's eyes.


The Go Gold Project

Why Going Gold For Childhood Cancer Month Matters

September sees the start of Childhood Cancer Month - this wasn’t even something I was aware of until a couple of years ago. September also sees the start of the new school term and the end of the school holidays, and this summer has been no different to us as a family - we have gone to be with relatives as we usually do and the kids have loved playing with their cousins.

For Ian, Lucas, Sebastian and I, Oscar is missing every day in everything we do. But Oscar was never physically present with our wider family every day as we live so far apart; so although he was a large presence in all of our lives, I feel (and hope) like there is a little respite for them because life is able to go on a little bit more easily. The holidays make that difficult for our wider family as there will always be one missing.

I guess I am trying to understand the wider impact Oscar’s death has had. It is not only us still grieving but our families, and much more so when we “hit them” with his absence. Grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, great grandparents…

I spoke with my 92 year old grandmother a number of times over the holidays - she is getting old and her memory is fading, so she asks the same things over and over again. She asks about my three children, their ages, their likes etc. Again I explain that Oscar is dead. She then asks me how it happened and again I explain about his brain tumour, treatment and relapse. Her response is always the same; how can you go through this Marie, how could this happen, how are the boys dealing with it?

After one of these conversations, the only thing I could think about was that I might have another 50 years to ask myself those same questions again and again and again.

The impact of childhood cancer is devastating on every level. Please join us in going Gold for Childhood Cancer in September. Raising awareness of the symptoms of this disease and funding more research is crucial.

http://gogoldproject.weebly.com/


Oscar Hughes race horse

The Oscar Hughes Race Horse

Here is a little sneak preview of a very exciting and novel way of support for our charity.

Local Malton trainers Julie Camacho and Steve Brown have very kindly bought a lovely race horse and named it after our son Oscar Hughes.

We went to see the horse yesterday with the whole family and although there will be much more information to come about this in the next month, we couldn’t help but give you a little look at the beauty.