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Mascot update

As many of you may know we have two trusty mascots that help us each and every year to promote Devon Dub Fest (as well as providing us with lots of smiles…well they are VWs!)

Our mascots are: Skippy the ’61 split & Doodles the ’66 bug.

Now sadly and much to Skippy’s disappointment Doodles is currently off the road and is awaiting his final diagnosis. Final diagnosis I hear you say…’what’s that all about?’

Well sadly in November last year he was involved (with my other half) in an accident early one morning. Neither Doodles or my other half were at fault it really was one of those genuine accidents.

Most importantly the other driver was fine and my other half following several weeks healing and pyshio is now pretty much fully recovered. He was a very lucky boy in the grand scheme of things.

So needless to say this is how Doodles is currently looking :(

DoodlesPics

We’re currently working hard with solicitors and insurance companies to get the diagnosis of him confirmed so we can get to work getting him back to healthy status and reporting for his Devon Dub Fest duties.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Josie & Ruby…the role CLIC play

Our thanks go to Josie who has shared her story below with us to share with you all to illustrate the important role CLIC Sargent play.

 

This time last year, Ruby and I were set to come to the Devon Dub Fest, but our circumstances changed and we were unable to make. This year, Ruby couldn’t be more excited and that is thanks, in a big way to CLIC Sargent. This is our story.

Ruby was a very active healthy little girl, always running about, climbing and swimming. Then in February 2011 she fractured her wrist. Six weeks later she did it again in another part of the wrist. She was referred to Branch House, a mobility assessment centre. Between February and September she suffered six fractures, including her elbow and her ankle, all from innocuous incidents. She went from a girl who ran everywhere and loved climbing to not being able to walk at all. She had to use a wheelchair.

I was spending my life in A&E, seeing the physio and the GP. By November 2011 she was in a wheelchair permanently.

I took her in to A&E when she developed a pain in her arm and for the first time we saw a consultant who diagnosed Ruby with polyarticular juvenile arthritis. We were then sent up to Bristol Children’s Hospital and they took a test of her bone marrow and diagnosed her with leukaemia. At that point they believed she had had it since February. If they’d not discovered it she would only have had weeks to live.

It was awful, absolutely dreadful.

When they said it was cancer I became aggressive and said “Don’t you ever use that word again”. You just don’t know anything about the disease or its prospects. You just think it leads to death. I thought I’m dealing with the imminent death of my child.

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Everything was a blur. We were taken to a ward and I slept beside her on a pull-out bed. A lady from CLIC Sargent came along and gave us information packs, things to read and some money towards travel expenses. She also told us about the home from home in Bristol. That meant Ruby’s brother could come up to stay. We left on 15 December, not sure if the treatment worked. We thought it might be our last Christmas together.

I don’t know what I’d have done without CLIC Sargent. What was most inspiring is that CLIC Sargent is there not just for the child but for the whole family. My dad was with me at the hospital and he’s deaf. The CLIC Sargent nurse held him by both hands and told him calmly looking straight at his face. He’s from the generation where anyone that had leukaemia would have died.

CLIC Sargent’s support had a knock on effect even in the early days, and helped build the strength of the whole family. We came back to Exeter and had an appointment at the hospital. A CLIC Sargent social worker, Heather Rake, came to our house and she was a listening ear offering practical help. Ruby’s last fracture came after her leg gave way as she was getting out of bed. It was a mid-rise bed so we had to replace it. Heather got me a grant and said “go and sort out a bed.” At the time, that was worth a million pounds to me.

CLIC Sargent has been more than a crutch. It’s more like that poem about footsteps in the sand and I liken them to that. They don’t make you feel stupid, even if you ask the same questions a million times.

Ruby has coped with everything tremendously. She is such a positive and inspirational little girl. She was seven when she started having the slips and trips and spent her eighth birthday in a wheelchair. She never once made a connection between cancer and death, for her it was like a bad case of flu and she knew medicine would make her better.

She is such an inspiration. She couldn’t go to school for a year but has managed to pass her 11+. Her brother has also had a lot to cope with, he has been through the mill and back. But we’re a very positive, forward-thinking family. The only time I got cross was with the GP because it took so long to find out what was wrong, but CLIC Sargent has explained how rare it is that GPs come face to face with a child with cancer. The chances are slim. It’s still a rare illness. When we were on the ward we were in a bubble. All the children around you have cancer but it’s not like that in the real world.

Ruby has a condition called avascular necrosis, which is a crumbling of the joints. But she’sRuby 1 walking now and doing what the other children do. Her hair has grown back and she’s delighted she’s going to be able to go swimming again now she’s had her Hickman line removed. Heather is still supporting us. Ruby is now in remission and it’s highly unlikely it will come back but we keep our fingers crossed that everything will work out. I know I’m not on my own; CLIC Sargent has helped me throughout everything.

It was difficult when she was looking so unwell but we knew we’d get to the other side because of the help from CLIC Sargent. The best advice they gave to Ruby was to not allow cancer to define her. They said you will be a regular child again.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and started my chemotherapy in June last year. I had a double mastectomy on January 15 which happened to be the last day of Ruby’s treatment, after two years and three months.

CLIC Sargent isn’t officially involved with me but their support with Ruby has helped me. It’s been hard for Ruby with her only parent being so poorly and her knowing what I was going through as she’d already been through it herself.Ruby 2

I’m still recovering from my operation and my hair is growing back. I probably would have reacted differently if Ruby hadn’t already gone through it. But she inspired me. If this had been my first experience of cancer maybe it would have been different. But even when I was diagnosed I didn’t shed a tear. How could I when I’d just seen what my eight-year-old had been through?

As a family, we’ve always liked VWs. The year Ruby was diagnosed we happened to see an advert to hire a VW campervan. We decided to do the coast of Cornwall. We’d never been camping before but we just hit the open road, stopping off where we felt fit. That was the best holiday. We were able to repeat it the following year after a company in Okehampton were able to provide a van free of charge. This year, we are so excited to be coming along to the Devon Dub Fest and seeing everyone who supports CLIC Sargent and loves campervans!

Jilly & Hunter…the role CLIC play

As you may know one of the important things about DDF is raising as much money as possible for CLIC Sargent to support the amazing work they do…what do they do?

Why not read on to hear Jilly & Hunters story – thank you Jilly for sharing this with us all :)

jan 13, hunter with Toffee ted 006

After reading Martin Dorey’s eloquent and moving account below of his family’s fight against Childhood Cancer I’m not sure Ican add much more, except to say a huge thank you to everyone who helps to make this year’s Devon Dubfest a huge success for the wonderful people at CLIC Sargent.

I am a lone parent to my fabulous five year old son Hunter, who’s life was changed overnight on May the 17th last year when we too were told that he had cancer. His is called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. I howled with tears and took great gulps of breath in panic in a side room at Barnstaple District Hospital while he was taken off for a three hour blood transfusion.

I was frightened beyond belief. I thought he was about to die. I knew next to nothing about Leukaemia and associated it only with Ian Botham’s charity walks for children who didn’t survive it.

That night we were taken by ambulance to Bristol Children’s Hospital and we arrived on Ward 34 at 2am. It was staggeringly hot (there was a heat-wave at the time) and all around us in the half-light, I could hear children groaning or intermittently crying. Parents were talking in urgent whispers and nurses glided around carrying medicines and thermometers.

Over the next few days I struggled to remember the names of all the medications that Hunter had pumped, pushed or stabbed into him. Doctors had to explain everything twice or three times. I had no idea how I was going to cope emotionally or financially as it slowly dawned on me that this nightmare was going to endure for three and a half years which is how long treatment takes for a boy with ALL.

CLIC Sargent however came to my rescue and held my hand. As Martin Dorey relates, we too were found a room at the CLIC House in Bristol and when Hunter was able, we spent a few nights there away from the heat, noise, confusion and claustrophobia of the ward.

CLIC helped financially too; I was given a cheque for £250 from the charity’s funds (which all newly-diagnosed families receive I think) and this helped me to get through those weeks in hospital. I had to buy clean underwear, tee-shirts, nighties, food for myself (there is no free hospital food for parents!) and treats for Hunter as he was awesomely brave throughout our stay.

Once we returned home to Bideford, life was nothing like it had been a few weeks previously. The treatment for Hunter’s cancer was still full-on only now, we have to travel to the RD&E hospital in Exeter for intravenous chemo, lumbar punctures, blood transfusions and, when Hunter’s temperature hits the ‘magic 38′, a few overnight stays until he has fought off an infection.

But CLIC Sargent are still an ever-present and hugely comforting presence in our new world. We met the fantastic Jenny Birch. She is our CLIC nurse but oh so much more than that. Yes, she does Hunter’s bloods each week either at home or at school, but she is also Hunter’s great pal, and he is her number one fan. CLIC Sargent funds Jenny’s work and she has become an important person in our lives. She even came to an evening event in her own time, at Hunter’s school, to watch him to a short performance on stage. Thank you Jenny.

Heather Rake is another one of CLIC’s angels. She is our CLIC social worker and has a small office on the Bramble Unit at Exeter Hospital.

She (and her fellow CLIC worker Sandy) has put us in touch with other organisations which have helped us through this horrible journey and her smile and laid-back manner take the edge of my internal fears when we meet on the day ward.

Facilities like CLIC House and professionals like Jenny and Heather are profoundly important to families negotiating their way through the horrors of the battlefield that is childhood cancer. To everyone who has fund-raised for the charity, on behalf of my son who still has two years of treatment to go as I write (Weds July the 10th 2013), I wish to say a deep and heartfelt thank you.

 

You, me, my VW and CLIC Sargent

By Martin Dorey (Author of The Camper Van Cookbook, The Camper Van Coast and presenter of BBC2’s One Man and his Campervan.)

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If it’s ok with you I’d like to tell you a little story about me and my daughter, my VW camper vans and CLIC Sargent. Thereason for this is that I want to thank each and every one of you who has ever done anything for CLIC Sargent. That’s because you gave us hope when we needed it. The things you do – whether that’s put a penny in the bucket, run marathons, enter the show and shine at Devon Dub Fest or simply buy a ticket to be there – continues to give hope to thousands of families like ours who are faced with the horror of childhood cancer every day.

So, from me and my family (and of course Dave, our VW camper have a special car starter kit for camping), the most sincere of thank yous. And please don’t stop.

It was just over nine years ago that my daughter Maggie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a cancer of the blood. She had just had her first birthday. It took a while to get the diagnosis so when it finally came it was almost a relief to know what it was that had been causing her jaw to swell and disfigure her face horribly. After weeks of sleepless nights and tear filled days the news was good: they knew it was cancer, they knew what to do. There would be chemo and possibly radiotherapy if things didn’t improve quickly, but it was treatable. And Maggie would be in hospital for at least six months.

Could you imagine someone telling you that? It was truly devastating, but oddly, not without hope. We are optimistic people so we preferred to think of it as earning some of the good times. We resolved to dig in and do whatever it took to get Maggie well. It wasn’t easy.

Also, we had no idea where to start. Maggie was in Bristol. She needed one of us to be with her all the time. At the time we were living in North Devon, two hours drive away. Joanne was also pregnant with our second.

We were totally and utterly lost for the first few days. We had no idea how to cope and kept our heads down doing all we could to help Maggie to be well, which was basically nothing because the incredible team on Ward 34 did all that for us. We slept in the room with Maggie. We learned fast about cancer. We called our relatives and friends to tell them the news. I remember one night when Maggie was recovering from her third general anaesthetic in as many days. I stayed awake watching a monitor, listening to her faltering heartbeat, urging her to breathe, just keep breathing, just keep breathing. It was a frightening, confusing, dark time.

That’s when CLIC Sargent stepped in.

We got a visit from a CLIC Sargent social worker who changed everything. She told us what to expect, helped us to cope, gave us the knowledge we needed to survive, both emotionally and financially.

She organised a room for us at CLIC House, a big friendly house not far from the hospital, for as long as we needed it. There we could rest, sleep, wash, cook and have time away from the hospital between shifts on the ward. Your hard work paid for that. So thanks, it meant the world to us. It also meant I could hold down a job and pay the mortgage (it doesn’t go away when you have cancer) and still do my bit on the ward. It meant our family could help too. CLIC House also became Charlie’s first home after she was born.

CLIC House has made things better for so many people, particularly those in the South West who live so far away from specialist hospitals. So, you know, thanks. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed.

CLIC Sargent also provided a play worker, Sam, who took Maggie off for a couple of hours each day so Jo and I could catch up between shifts and take a breather. Little things like that mean a lot. Nice work guys.

CLIC Sargent also provided some of the money to pay for the vast amount of knowledge that exists in our health service through its research funding. So, one day when Maggie had an anaphylactic reaction to a new drug, the team on duty – nurses Charlie and Charlotte – were able to apply that knowledge to save her life. Again, thank you for shaking that bucket or doing that abseil or whatever it was that you did for us.

Thankfully Maggie responded better than anyone could have hoped. She survived. But some didn’t. I know that CLIC Sargent would have provided support for the mums and dads and brothers and sisters of those kids who never came home. It’s such an awful thing to have to think about or plan for but it has to be done. You should feel proud that the money you raised will have helped a family come to terms with the most unimaginable horror. So thanks, from the rest of us who made it out unscathed.

Once Maggie came home, CLIC also provided a helper for Joanne so she could spend some time with the newly born Charlie. They provided – and still do – a CLIC nurse, the wonderful Jenny, who watches over Maggie and makes sure she stays well. We only see her every year now but there was a time when she’d come around every week to check up on us once we got home. She changed Maggie’s feeding tube, reassured us that we’d be fine, checked Maggie’s blood count and did all kinds of wonderful things to help us get our lives back on track. She also became a friend. Again, your devotion did that. Amazing.

So, by now you must be wondering, what does this have to do with VW campers?

CLIC Sargent gave us hope. But it was also the promise that Jo and I made to ourselves one night in CLIC House that helped to keep us going. We vowed that if we made it through we’d buy another campervan and take off. We would live some good times together as a family.

It was the VW camper that offered us the promise of freedom beyond hospital. It became a symbol of hope and happiness, just like it does for everyone who ever owned a camper. Joanne had toured Holland in a VW, whilst I’d been sleeping in them regularly since learning to surf in the 80s. You don’t need me to tell you what it means.

About a week before Maggie was discharged we sold our car and bought a beautiful water cooled Autosleeper T25. And a couple of weeks after that we slipped away to Ireland. It wasn’t easy, but it was bliss after the long months spent sitting by the side of a hospital bed. Charlie slept in a Moses basket on the front seat and Maggie with Jo in the back. I slept in the pop top and dreamed up a project to write a book about living the life in a camper…

Our dreams came true. We had our Maggie and we had our freedom and none of it would have happened if it wasn’t for CLIC Sargent. And you. I will always associate good times with the work CLIC sergeant has done for us. And I am thrilled that Devon Dubfest supports them. It’s a perfect match.

Thanks.

Maggie and I look forward to seeing you all there.

The Devon Gathering Idea!

In this guest blog you can hear from Brian the brains behind the Devon Conversion Celebration, read on to find out just what has been the catalyst to Brian doing this.

 

My first bus in 1968 was a rotting 54 barndoor with a home-made interior and 1200 engine. Bit of a shock on the first hill so I soon bought a 64 Devon – my companion for the next 10 years.  Since then I’ve had many bays and splits, almost all with Devon conversions.  When I heard about DDF I thought “why not gather together as many Devon conversions as we can?” – after all, DDF is just up the road from Sidmouth where most Devons were converted.   So I contacted Mart, Bonny and Zoe with this idea and it’s all gone from there.

My next thought was “I wonder if Pat Mitchell who designed all these amazing campers is still around?”   After a few enquiries I found him still living in Sidmouth, fit and well in his eighties.  Nobody in the VW community (with the honorable exception of David Eccles in his book “VW Campers the Inside Story”) has really recognized Pat’s role in revolutionizing the way people camp.  He and the White family who built the campers made it possible for thousands of people to enjoy being camped up in a cosy vehicle with water, a bed and a cooker rather than in a soggy cold tent!  His designs ultimately led to the great motor caravan industry we see today.

So it would be a fitting tribute to Pat and his designs to invite him to the Devon Gathering at DDF, partly to show him how much his campers are enjoyed today, but mainly to say thank you for creating these iconic buses that we all value so much. We are planning a few surprises for him, and he has agreed to give a talk about his life and work – a real treat for Devon bus nutters like me.

I’m really looking forward to the cruise to Sidmouth with Devon splits and bays of hopefully all years from 1957 to 1979.  We hope we can do this every year at DDF to celebrate Devon Conversions – our local link with the VW story!

What’s been learnt, what’s overwhelmed and what’s been the biggest challenge?

As DDF approaches its third year we thought we’d share with you just what the experiencehas been like for each of the organisers.

Last but by no means least Bonnie…

What have you learnt from organising DDF?

Bonnie

Well there is so much I have learnt, but here goes…the main thing is how three people who are so different can get together and organise a Volkswagen festival and make it such a success, but the thing that touches me is how proud I am of Martin and Zoe both working so hard with the wonderful Volkyfolks, our family and friends and how they all get behind us and help in so many ways, all for free and with great eagerness to do so. Big thumbs up from me to all of you!

What has been the biggest challenge?

Personally for me my biggest challenge is trying to blag as much as possible to keep our cost as low as possible, so we don’t have to hike our prices up to a level where people can’t afford to come and have a good time.

What has overwhelmed you?

Blimey! The thing that has overwhelmed me the most are people like John from Sign Vision, Chris from Stage Engage, Scott from Brandon hire and Alex and Jan from Autocamp to name a few and there are a lot to name!

They give there time, help and support for next to nothing or for free, to help us raise more money for an amazing Charity, to give all you dubbers out there a fantastic weekend, you all make me smile, thank you all for supporting us!

Tribute to Devon Conversions

We’ve had some great news this week from Brian a member of SSVC who is working on a celebration of Devon Conversions – read on to understand just why this year is so important.

From 1957 to 1989 VW buses and vans were converted to campers by Devon Conversions who were based at the Alexandria Works in Sidmouth. The company was owned by the White family, headed by the now-famous Jack White, who had previously been a builder and cabinet-maker.  The beautiful and practical interiors were largely designed by Jack’s foreman Pat Mitchell.  Over the years these campers have given many thousands of people the opportunity to enjoy memorable holidays, yet there has never been an event to celebrate this – until now!

It is fifty years since Jack died on his way to work at the wheel of his VW pick-up so we thought now would be the time to pay tribute to the White family, Pat Mitchell and the workforce who created these iconic vehicles.  Devon Dub Fest is located close to Sidmouth so is the perfect place to do this.

We hope to attract as many examples of Devon campers as possible and to make this THE event for those who still drive them and camp in them.  We are keen to get lots of early examples of splits and bays, but all Devons produced before 1989 will be welcomed. We are organizing a number of events within the show specifically for Devons including:

  • A display on Saturday of as many examples of each year and conversion type as possible situated in the ring at the centre of the show
  • Opportunities to meet some of those associated with the Alexandria Works
  • Hopefully something else rather special – watch this space!

This should be a great opportunity for Devon owners to get together so the more the merrier!

Getting by with a little help from our friends….

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Image – thanks to Thru A Lupe Photographic

As you may know Devon Dub Fest is a local VW festival done in aid of CLIC Sargent is coming to life for its third year from 26th – 28th July 2013 at Bicton College.

But without the help and support of local businesses and individuals it really wouldn’t be possible.

Organiser Zoe Keeping says “We are so fortunate to have so much support to help us make this festival a reality, each year we are overwhelmed by the help we get from both local businesses and individuals”

Local VW Club Volkyfolks from Exmouth has become a key part of the annual event with club members giving up their time to become festival stewards and help it all run smoothly.

Carl Joscelyne club manager says “The club has been running for around 5 years now and we love being a part of Devon Dub Fest especially when it’s done for such a great cause. The event is all about what the club members love, great VWs, great people and lots of fun.”

The Volkyfolks club doors are always open to new members – meetings take place at 1pm on the second and fourth Sunday of every month at The Bath House in Exmouth.

If you are a local business and interested in supporting this local event and in turn CLIC Sargent then please get in contact with the organisers at enquiries@devondubfest.co.uk.

What’s been learnt, what’s overwhelmed and what’s been the biggest challenge?

As DDF approaches its third year we thought we’d share with you just what the experience has been like for each of the organisers.

Next up Mart…

What have you learnt from organising DDF?

Mart

Just how many people come together to help with the event and how hard they work for free!

What has been the biggest challenge?

For me it’s trying to get my head around the fact that only 3 of us are responsible for all the people that come to have a good time.

What has overwhelmed you?

All the good feedback from people and the way it is growing from year to year, but the biggest thing that overwhelmes me is to see the site full of VWs!

What’s been learnt, what’s overwhelmed and what’s been the biggest challenge?

As DDF approaches its third year we thought we’d share with you just what the experience has been like for each of the organisers.

First up Zoe…

What have you learnt from organising DDF?

Zoe

Oh my, where to start. There really is so much! So as not to bore everyone with a big long list I would say the 3 biggest things are:

  1. A lot more detail about licensing & planning – from bars, music, insurance, security ratios, water taps, fire safety….it goes on!
  2. How to be even more efficient! When you have a full time day job as well this is key!
  3. That providing toilets and showers is the most expensive cost at the festival – lol!

What has been the biggest challenge?

Securing sunshine! Other than that it wouldn’t be right if there weren’t challenges and I’d also be really bored!

What has overwhelmed you?

Crikey I get teary eyes just thinking about this it has to be the overwhelming support we get from local people and businesses it just blows me away and the Sunday day of the festival where we get to spoil some CLIC families as it’s the perfect reminder as to why we do it all. Oh and the lovely people that come and speak to us throughout the weekend and give feedback. It’s just all in all a really fab experience.