Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 4 of the CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge for Hearts and Minds

The team at the finish

The fourth and final day of the CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge was a 145 km bike ride from Cadiz in Spain to Gibraltar, which included some tough climbs to finish the epic journey.

A big thank you to the Gibraltar police for closing roads and giving a police escort to all the riders, as well as a great welcome.

There was also an end of event celebration party...

All the funds raised during this event will be used to make a difference to the lives of children with autism in the UK and Ireland.

See for more information.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Day 3 of the CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge for Hearts and Minds

Keith Duffy putting a brave face on Day 3 of the charity cycle across Southern Spain for Hearts and Minds, just before setting off on the 130 km journey from Seville to Cadiz.

"I might have to cycle standing up today," tweeted Keith Duffy this morning.  "After tomorrow I never want to see a bike again!"

Here's what Keith had to say en route:

Just one more day to go....

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Day 2 of the CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge for Hearts and Minds

Rik Waddon
Day two of the CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge in aid of Hearts and Minds was a 140 km ride from Ronda to Seville.  This is Rik being interviewed during the day...

"We covered it at record busting pace to finish in time to watch the Formula 1 qualifiers!" says Olympic hero Rik Waddon.  "Today respect goes to Tom Spencer: a teenager with no fear!"

Tom (in the plain black helmet) is in some of today's photos

The weather wasn't all good on day two: here's Keith Duffy in mountain fog!

Keith Duffy

Friday, 24 May 2013

Day 1 of the CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge for Hearts and Minds

“The CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge” is a cycling challenge that consists of cycling 300 miles across Southern Spain in 4 days.  A team from Hearts and Minds is taking part to raise more funds towards the £1 million target needed to build a centre of excellence for autism in Manchester.   It began today:

At the start, with Keith Duffy centre right of the photo

The facts about Day 1:

Paralympic cyclist Rik Waddon reported that Day 1 included some "cool climbs on the 120km from #Malaga to #ronda with belting sunshine!"  He and Keith Duffy were helped along the way by their personalised bikes kindly donated by Claud Butler.

Personalised bikes!

 The cyclists en route and an exclusive interview with Keith Duffy...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Welcome to Holland. Or maybe not...

Welcome to Holland' is a 1987 essay by Emily Perl Kingsley that is often given to parents when they get a diagnosis of special needs for their child.

But it doesn't work for everyone...

Especially at the start, when you're still in the airport and in shock at being in Holland and not Italy.  If you're in that place, you might like to read this post by Dana Nieder instead:

Or perhaps you feel that you've landed in a war zone by mistake?   Then you might relate to 'Welcome to Beirut' one of several posts linked up here:

Sometimes it's tough being in Holland and that's okay too:

And for a lighter look at the 'Dutch' way of life, you might like this recent post by Donna Street:

A diagnosis of special needs changes lives for every family, but there is lots of support out there, including on the Hearts and Minds Facebook page...why not join the community today:

Monday, 13 May 2013

Hearts & Minds supporting #kevsautismcampaign against bullying

(reblogged from

Bullying affects many lives and it can too often have devastating consequences. Many people are bullied for various reasons, whether it is for the clothes they wear, the way they look or whether they have a particular disability or learning difficulty.

Kevin Healey is autistic and has been a victim of bullying since he was a child, and still faces bullies well into his adulthood.

Kevin speaks of his experience; “For far too long now, adults on the spectrum have been targeted by bullies. I am a victim of bullying, from a child to a teenager, to now a grown adult at 38. Cyber bullying has become so severe; I have even received death threats. Cyber bullying is one of the most horrendous things I have ever experienced. Bullying is with you 24/7 and it totally consumes your life.”

Kevin Healey has been campaigning for better services and support for people with an Autistic spectrum Condition for over a decade. His campaign has received high accolades leading to Kevin receiving various awards including Charity Champion of the year 2007 and Stoke on Trent Citizen of the year 2006. He has also won the Queens award for his charity SAAS and has been appointed Ambassador for the NAS.

“We need to change the law on bullying internationally. I have started the campaign to encourage people to make the changes needed to make a difference. Attacks on Goths and punks has now become a hate crime in Manchester, so why isn’t the same laws being put in place for all bullying including attacks on people with autism? I am asking people to sign my petition to change the UK law so then we can take the campaign global to ensure law changes across the world. ” Kevin continues.

Ricky Gervais, Alex Reid and Melanie Sykes amongst other celebrities are backing Kevin and his global campaign to have the laws on bullying changed to ensure that no one has to suffer in silence.

Alongside the celebrity support, Simon Sugar, son of Lord Alan Sugar is helping develop a digital advertising campaign. However, Kevin is still seeking a national sponsor.

The campaign and petition has received phenomenal support and thousands of messages from people who have been affected by bullying. Kevin’s campaign is simple in its delivery, to make the Government take notice and have the law on UK hate crime for vulnerable people, especially with those with autism changed.

If you would like to lend your support to Kevin and his campaign then please visit and sign his petition at

For more information regarding Kevin or the campaign, please visit

Celebrity Support:

Ricky Gervais

”I support and back Kevin’s anti bullying autism campaign. Bullying people with autism needs to stop. The UK laws must change to protect them. It’s more than a hate crime and people who bully need to be prosecuted. We need to protect people on the spectrum. These vulnerable people have enough challenges each day without been bullied. My eight-year-old son Valentino is on the spectrum, so this campaign holds a very poignant place in my heart. Please join the fight to create laws against bullying”

Melanie Sykes

“People don’t choose to be Autistic, they learn to live with it. But some people choose to bully and hate. I support this cause in hope that we all choose to love and support those with Autism”

Luke Goss

“Autism and Anti-bullying are issues very close to my heart and I am proud to support Kevin’s ‘Autism Anti Bullying campaign’, No one should feel they have to suffer alone and together we can hopefully make changes that matter”

Alex Reid

“I am delighted to support Kevin’s’ Autism Anti Bullying campaign, we all suffer from the disease of perception and what we see isn’t what we think”

Michael Barrymore

“Everyone of us can make a difference. Just think of that! The world would be a much better place without BULLIES”

If you're Twitter please join in with the Tweet storm on Thursday, 7pm GMT using the hashtag #kevsautismcampaign to support him to create change: #autismbullying must stop.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

In the news - April 2013

Patrick McGrath and Bobby Hughes were the stars of the media coverage for Hearts and Minds during April....

Patrick McGrath, with parents Ian and Sandra, who set up Hearts and Minds, and featured in the Manchester Evening News
The campaign to 'Give Bobby a Voice', aims to collect enough old mobile phones to get an iPad for every child in Bobby's class and featured first in local and regional newspapers and then national press and TV:

A rough copy of the BBC coverage is here

More families - and at least one school - are running appeals in local papers to request phones: 

And one Mum got the chance to thank the readers of her local paper for sending in more than the 185 old phones she needed to get an iPad and case for her daughter...  The extra phones have been passed on to another family.

The Hearts and Minds scheme also featured on Netbuddy, a great site for tips in relation to special needs, and also on Pinkoddy's family blog about a family which includes two children on the spectrum:

Could an iPad help your child too?

If you live in Britain, simply collect 165 old mobile phones and the Manchester-based charity Hearts and Minds will exchange them for a new iPad.

Details here:

Website: :