You’ll Never Walk Alone: Promoting a Charity Walk for Cancer Research UK

I do like to blog regularly so it must be time for my yearly post…hmmm, not hard to see why those Blogger of the Year awards aren’t flying in my direction.

Anyhoo, I’ve been busy.  Really busy.  As well as doing a day job as a Weddings Coordinator (which can be surprisingly stressful – they don’t call ’em bridezillas for nothing), I’ve also been supporting a charity walk called 3500 To End It with PR and social media. Laurence Carter lost his wife to cervical cancer and decided to spend a year walking 3,500 miles around the coast of England and Wales, raising funds for Cancer Research UK and awareness of preventing and eradicating cervical cancer.  Thus, ‘3500 To End It’.

Here’s a post I wrote* for the 3500 To End It blog to highlight some of the great publicity we received (and to attempt to make me look good now that I’m job hunting again!):

You’ll Never Walk Alone

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A couple of months into Laurence’s 3,500 mile walk – which actually turned out to be 4,250 miles due to walking up and down river estuaries instead of taking ferries, getting lost a few times, and several diversions to pubs along the way – he realised that he wasn’t getting as much publicity as he’d hoped.  It turns out that driving to an Airbnb, walking 10-15 miles, getting a bus back at the end of the day, eating, sampling a couple of pints of the local ale and trying to find somewhere to wash socks, doesn’t leave a great deal of time for contacting local newspapers or updating social media.

That’s where I came in.  I supported Laurence with PR and social media for the last nine months of his walk after a friend of a friend put me in touch.  I thought the walk sounded incredible and as for eradicating cervical cancer – well, who wouldn’t want to help to achieve that?

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Because the campaign was so personal to Laurence, I wanted to work as hard as I could in the hour I had each day to get his message to the biggest audience possible.  After creating a media strategy, I set to work, contacting hundreds of local and national media outlets (I think I emailed The One Show every other week!), reaching out to celebrities from all different fields (thanks to Bill Bryson, Martha Kearney, Jimmy Doherty and Helen Skelton for your support), and linking posts on Facebook and Twitter with everything from Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, International HPV Awareness Day and World CancerDay to national days featuring sticky buns, Pi (and pies!), book giving and inconveniencing yourself!

Thankfully, my persistence paid off and Laurence’s walk received great interest and coverage, both nationally and locally, reaching potentially millions of people, with another half a million impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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I was really pleased to get Laurence’s campaign into the national media. Laurence was able to tell his story in his own words with an emotional article in Woman magazine called The Picture that means So Much, as well as featuring in The Sun’s Fabulous magazine as part of the Cheers for Smears campaign.  The biggest coup was a full-page feature on the BBC News website, one of the biggest in the country with millions of visitors each day.  Laurence received lots of messages from friends and family who were amazed to read about him over their breakfast that morning!


Local media was also massively important, as Laurence walked through almost 30 counties over the year so there was a huge audience to reach.  Before this, I had no idea just how many local newspapers and radio stations there are in England and Wales – believe me, there are A LOT – and, if they’re anywhere near the coast, I’ve spoken to/emailed/tweeted or messaged them! They range from hospital radio and local magazines with a handful of staff to BBC radio stations with hundreds of thousands of listeners and local newspapers/websites with almost a million readers each week.  We were fortunate that so many journalists and presenters were interested in Laurence’s story and he was interviewed by almost 50 local newspapers, magazines, radio and even TV stations.

I enjoyed every moment of working with Laurence; I’m so pleased that I was able to help him achieve his goal of raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention and bringing forward the day when we can eradicate cervical cancer.

And if anyone reading this would like a hand with PR or social media, please do get in touch!

*Yes, I do feel like I’ve cheated on Barbed Words with a hotter, newer blog!

Under Pressure

savage chickensI’ve been a bad blogger.  I haven’t posted for three months, which in the world of blog is a real no-no. On any list of top tips for bloggers, writing posts is pretty much number one. Mind you, on checking my site stats, I’d actually had a couple of days during my hiatus when I got my highest ever number of views. It appears that the way for me to be a successful blogger is not to post at all. Result.

So how have I been filling my time if I haven’t been blogging? Well, mainly by stressing, which takes a lot of hard work and commitment to really do it properly.  We’re due to return back to the UK next summer and, at the moment, I don’t know the answers to the following questions:

Where will we live/work/kids go to school/buy cheap prosecco?
Will I have lost two stone by then? [Ed: I think we all know the answer to that one…]  

And not knowing any of that is making me just a tad anxious. Until HWW (as the stereotypical main bread/prosecco winner in the family) confirms where he’ll be working, it’s a bit hard to plan the rest.

I could probably relax into it and just go with the flow if it wasn’t for the fact that my youngest is due to start secondary school next September, along with every other 11 year old in the UK, and applications had to be in last week. My stress levels were amplified greatly by being told something different depending on whom I spoke to at the county council: You can’t apply from abroad…You can apply but it won’t be processed until you return to the UK…We won’t accept your application …We will but you’ll be at the back of the queue…Have you considered home-schooling? 

And so on and so forth until I finally found a muppet customer service advisor who seemed to know what they were talking about and directed me to the relevant section on their website which proved I did have to put in an application.  However, another problem is that some of the catchment areas for schools in the UK are tiny; you’ve no chance of getting in if you live more than a mile away. Our application had to be based on our Rome address, which is approximately 1,200 miles away from our chosen schools. Fortunately, I haven’t actually got the energy left to fret about that so will just bury my head in the sand instead.


Anyway, after finally getting the application in, I thought I’d relax with a cappuccino and a read of the English news. Only to discover that my tax return was due in that day. And I hadn’t even taken it out of its envelope since receiving it in April.  At that point, I had a panic attack and passed out for the rest of the day which at least gave me a nice break from worrying…

Our Lips Are Sealed


After setting up a blog, the WordPress Website recommends that you:

Bug your real-life friends – encourage friends and family to read your blog: send them reminder emails when you update and talk to them about it when you meet in person. Often having a really small audience of people you care about is better than having a million visitors and not knowing any of them.

But having done as suggested and casually invited all my family and friends (non-Italian, of course) to “check out my blog.  Yeah, that’s right.  I’ve got a blog.  Me!  On the Internet.  With followers and everything”, I’m beginning to see a major downside of not writing my blog anonymously.  Namely that I feel I can’t write anything even vaguely negative about the folks I know.  No moaning, no telling tales, no gossiping sharing my opinion of other people’s life choices.

It’s not that I want to reveal their darkest, juiciest secrets* or bad mouth any of my friends.  It’s more that I’d like to write freely about situations and events without being concerned that I might upset/annoy/libel one of them.  At least if I had a million readers that I didn’t know, I wouldn’t have to censor myself so much.

So how to proceed?  Should I simply change names and hope the relevant person doesn’t guess they’re the subject of a post?  Ask for permission before blogging?  nothing-to-say-so-blogOr just write whatever I want without worrying about offending anyone else?  If I think about it too much, I’ll be reduced to writing only about innocuous subjects such as cheese, cats and dust.

* I am in possession of some really good secrets.  Seriously good.  But I never divulge my information: I’d make a great spy.  Mind you, I  don’t actually want to put this to the test or anything; under extreme interrogation, I will crack.

An Award!!!


Thank you to the lovely pfstare at for nominating me for a Liebster Award.  As a fairly new blogger, I had to Google the award and discovered:

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers, who have less than 200 followers (phew, that was lucky.  Another 198 followers and I wouldn’t have been able to accept…), to both inspire and introduce them to a wider audience.  Liebster is German and means sweetest, favourite, valued and dearest.  All good stuff.  There are, however, rules for receiving the award:

1. Post 11 things about yourself.

2. Answer the questions your nominator has set for you.

3. Nominate 11 blogs and link them in your post.

4. Create 11 questions for the people you’ve nominated to answer.

5. Post your nominations on the relevant blogs.

6. Proudly display the Liebster Award on your blog.

So actually, quite a lot of work!  But, as awards are not being thrown my way on a daily basis, it seemed rude to turn it down.  So, here goes.

11 things about me:

  1. My name isn’t barbedwords.
  2. I’m not very tidy.
  3. I love to watch comedy TV and films.
  4. My starsign is Aries.
  5. I know Kindles are amazing but I don’t want one.  I just adore books.
  6. My favourite breakfast is cold pizza with a cup of tea.
  7. My children are fabulous: beautiful, funny, smart and kind.
  8. Although I do have other shoes, since I bought a pair of Fit Flops the others have not seen the light of day.
  9. I’m writing a novel but finding it very difficult to get motivated.
  10. I hate to get out of bed for less than £10,000.
  11. It’s really hard to think of 11 facts about myself.

Questions from pfstare:

  1.  If you had to choose a final meal, what would it be and why?  It would probably be something simple like tea (Typhoo/redbush mix with milk) and toast (butter, jam and Marmite.  Yes, together).
  2. Are you currently doing what you thought you would be doing in life and if not why not?
  Absolutely not.  Never thought I’d be living in Rome.
  3. Has anything ever been a huge surprise to you and if so, what was it?  Living in Rome!
Where would you most like to travel to and why?  I have a romantic hankering to spend my retirement travelling the coastline of Britain in a vintage VW campervan.  Preferably decorated in Cath Kidston with floral bunting and crocheted blankets.  I will be dressed head to toe in Boden with perfect Kate Middleton hair.  We will pull up at beautiful, secluded beaches where we will have Waitrose Magazine type picnics with Sorrel Salad, Courgette and Broad Bean Tortilla, Pancetta, Olive and Taleggio Picnic Rolls followed by Almond and Raisin Magdalenas.   (Honestly.  Genuine Waitrose picnic suggestions.  WTF is wrong with a ham sandwich, a couple of scotch eggs and a bag of cheese ‘n’ onion crisps??)  I have never actually been in a campervan so probably need to rent one for a weekend to check out the reality of this dream.
  5. Which is your favourite film and why?  ‘Those Glory Glory Days’.  It’s a fantastic film about a group of teenage girls growing up in London in 1961 who become obsessed with Spurs Football team as they become the first team to win both the League and the FA Cup.  It was one of the first films we ever had on video and my sister and I watched it almost every day during the summer holiday of 1984.   I’m not into football at all but that doesn’t matter.  ‘Those Glory Glory Days’ is a funny, sweet film about the great friendships you have at that age and the frustrations of growing up.
  6. What irritates you most?
 People eating apples.
  7. What is your guilty pleasure?  Can’t reveal that for fear of arrest.
  8. What song or piece of music never fails to cheer you up?
  ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones.
  9. What do you like most about where you live?  Great coffee.
  10. Who makes you laugh and why?  My husband (HWW) as he can always see the funny side of any situation.  My children also have a great sense of humour and are particularly talented at sarcasm.
  11. Is there any one thing you’re determined to do one day that you haven’t done yet?  Celebrate my 100th Birthday.

My Leibster nominations:

It was quite hard to find blogs to nominate as many of the ones I follow have way over 200 followers or already have the award, so I’m afraid I’ve only come up with five.  I’ve gone for blogs I enjoy reading; hopefully they will appreciate the award (and not find all the tasks too onerous).

i used to be indecisive…

My questions for my nominated blogs:

  1. What is your favourite book and why?
  2. Happiest childhood memory?
  3. Tea or coffee?
  4. Which ‘Friends’ character would you be and why?
  5. Favourite biscuit?
  6. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
  7. One luxury item you would take if stranded on a desert island?
  8. Summer or winter?
  9. Favourite item of clothing?
  10. Do you collect anything?
  11. What are you most grateful for in your life?

Thank you again to pfstare for the award.   Normal service will be resumed soon!