Race For Life – Trent Park 16/06/13

Thank you so much to all those involved in today’s ‘Race For Life’ in memory of Poppy and Karen. As you know it was Poppy’s intention to do this before her illness reared it’s terrible head once more.

Thank you all for doing it in Poppy and Karen’s memory.

Please Support our friends efforts at their Race For Life page. Team members are: Team Members:
Kerri, Tricia, Kieran, Shannon, Adam, Tia, James, Julie, Connor, Louise, Frankie, Jade, Effi but I think there are more here. So far over £1250 raised for Cancer Research. Well done everybody.

r4l 4k 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l dog 1 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l girls 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l group 1 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l group 2 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l group3 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l K1 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l label 2 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l label 4 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l poppy 1366 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

r4l 500m 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13
rfl 3k 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

rfl frankie 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

rfl group woods 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

rfl I love you Poppy 150x150 Race For Life   Trent Park 16/06/13

Blog – 4 Years

Poppy birthday register 1000x668 Blog   4 Years

I try to keep this website as positive as possible. It is a celebration of Poppy after all who was the most positive and wonderful person you could ever hope to meet. But as we are now in June, Poppy and my birthday month and the month that Poppy’s mother Karen also passed away in, I cannot help but reflect on the relentless painful journey we have been on for over 3 years now.

The last birthday Poppy had without a care in the world was 2009. She had a swimming pool party and I remember having to swim around the giant inflatables and assist the nine year olds back onto the floating giant pirate boat.

By the following year Karen (my ex-wife) had become increasingly ill and after diagnosis of a very rare cancer of the stomach lining from which nobody had ever recovered, was in hospital. At first she was just mean’t to be in for a few days but this turned into more and more days and I began to believe that she was so ill that she would not ever emerge. Karen told me she wanted me to hold a birthday party for Poppy. I found a workshop that did craft parties for children and booked somewhere which could host and children could paint china objects and be supervised. But Karen, determined to emerge from hospital wanted to be able to attend at my house which was just over the road from hers. So I had to change plans and spend a fortune on boxes of blank China chihuahuas and paints. Sadly, Karen was too sick to make it out of hospital for the party (but amazingly she did regain her strength and bravely carried on for another year).

poppy chihuahua party 2 620x927 Blog   4 Years

Sadly we found ourselves hosting a painting workshop in my house with no Karen. This was Poppy’s last proper party, held against the backdrop of not knowing whether her mother would ever emerge from hospital. Poppy never discussed this anxiety but I know that it was a huge one for me. I’ve found this snap I took late one night with my old phone in Enfield Krispy Kremes taken at about 10:00pm because the children wanted to go out somewhere and I remember just feeling really very lost trying to keep them balanced and reassured and thinking I wanted to record that moment, the weirdness and disorientation of it.

Krispy Kreme June 7th 2010 620x868 Blog   4 Years

Images of the bizarre china dog painting party.

poppy chihuahua party 3 620x927 Blog   4 Years
poppy birthday chihuahua party1 Blog   4 Years

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I later learnt that Poppy didn’t think that this was a good party. I’m sorry my little darling, it was such a difficult time, I would have made it up to you.

By 2011 Poppy was being treated for her own cancer. We were booked in for chemo on Thursday 9th June and expected to emerge from hospital the evening of Poppy’s birthday June 13th. By that time Karen was at the end. Karen went in to a hospice on the morning of June 9th. I had to take Cosmo with us to stay together in the hospital, and was desperately worried that an ambulance would turn up for Karen when we were leaving as Karen’s flat was just down the road. Later that afternoon I was told that Karen has died. That saturday whilst Caroline stayed with Poppy, I took Cosmo around the West End looking for birthday presents for Poppy. We had had no opportunity in the preceding weeks/days. We went to Liberty in Regent Street, a shop Karen used to work in and loved and I told Cosmo lots of stories about what Karen used to like about that fantastic shop and the people there. I can’t remember everything we bought Poppy but we bought her this cardboard kit pug which looks a bit like her dog Ollie who is half pug.

cardboard pug 620x587 Blog   4 Years

On the morning of Poppy’s birthday we had to leave the teenage ward and go back to the childrens ward. We had a nice room in the teenage ward but knew we would be back in public view on the childrens ward. I can remember feeling really upset that we weren’t given time and it being one of the few times I became difficult with the hospital staff. I felt so affronted that Poppy couldn’t even have this little time for privacy and even worse for Cosmo who had not become used to the lack of privacy that hospital life affords.

When Poppy survived the operation so well in January 2012, I never had any doubts that she would get better and that we would be able to try to rebuild our lives after such a terrible ordeal. Karen had said that she knew Poppy would be ok and somehow Karen always managed to sound convincing. So after only 3 and a bit months of rehabilitating Poppy I was devastated by the return of the disease and the sense that there was very very little the hospital felt they could do about it. I just ran out of energy at this point and was only able to keep up strength for Poppy directly. Poppy and I had planned a big celebration barbie as a joint birthday party in June but we didn’t have the will. We did have some close friends over and managed to have fun, but it was such a desperate time. During this time my fantastic friend and boss Colin Johnson came over and built some storage for us. Poppy helped us sort out the screws and flitted around whilst I played early Stevie Wonder and Syreeta on the big stereo and introduced Colin to the new Dexy’s track ‘She’s got a wiggle’ which I burned him on disc for his lovely wife Afeni. Poppy and Cosmo have always taken great strength from my wonderful friends.

Colin Ikea Fixer 620x442 Blog   4 Years

Here is Poppy last June. My sweet darling girl, wonderful child.
Poppy beer tent Blog   4 Years

Poppy Self 16 june 12 Blog   4 Years

Blog – Treated Walls Care For Me

Poppy chopper ride1 Blog   Treated Walls Care For Me

I found myself staring at this photo this morning. It captures Poppy’s energy and zest so well. I remember taking it so clearly. Earlier in the week I had been to Southgate Auctions and bought Poppy this wonderful American Chopper bike with it’s purple fabric saddle, and I’d bought Cosmo a great red electric guitar which reminded me of Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice) ‘Burns’ guitar.

By this time, Karen, Poppy’s mother was very ill and I used to get up very early each morning to take her dog Ollie for a walk in the park so that he was reasonably rested and that Karen didn’t need to worry. This was a school morning at around 7:00am and Poppy came trialling her new bike with me in Bush Hill Park. It was July 2010 and at this time I worried about the children and how I was going to make a life for them without their mother. It never occurred to me that they would be in any danger apart from suffering the immense heartbreak of losing their mother.

I’ve been playing James Blake all the time. Cosmo and I know it’s for Poppy but don’t mention that fact. But it has such beautiful emotional depth and sums up our terrible heartbreak and yet the beauty of having a wonderful sister and daughter such as Poppy.

Unluck – James Blake
Treated walls
care for me
When crossings call out
one of three

Only child take good care
I wouldn’t like you
playing, falling there

Video – Every Day I Ran

Supporting everybody who is running ‘Race For Life’ this year. Especially Poppy’s friends: Kerri, Tricia, Kieran, Shannon, Adam, Tia, James, Julie, Connor, Louise, Frankie, Jade, Effi, and Julie who are running in Poppy’s memory for Cancer Research UK. To date they have so far raised £720.

Poppy’s spirit was always amazing. She always tried her best and always had fun. This is filmed on my iPhone in September 2012. At the time she was in between some chemo and radiotherapy.

Blog – Support Elin

Elin Blog   Support Elin

Poppy had a lovely friend called Elin who has also been receiving cancer treatment on T11 ward at University College Hospital, London. Poppy loved Elin who is the baby of the group and Poppy would often go and play with her as she had an amazing love of young children and babies. The last time Poppy saw Elin she gave her a little owl as Elin loves owls.

Today we learned that Elin’s treatment options in the UK are lessening and that the family are aiming to get some radical new medical treatments in America. With this in mind, we are all trying to help. Please visit Elin’s website and help if you possibly can. We send our great love to Elin, Sian and family.

Link – I Dream Of Wires

Link to the photo essay gallery ‘I Dream of Wires’, documenting the year long nomadic existence of Poppy’s hospital treatment leading to surgery. Shot on an iPhone, these black and white photo squares try to find some sense of beauty amidst the gruelling and uncertain journey towards treatment. During this time Poppy and Cosmo lost their mother to cancer. Poppy made another family amongst her friends at UCH and would often be in the playroom or school room during the day as she grew used to handling the 4 day treatment on various drips. In this year we spent approx 100 nights staying in hospital.

Each photo on the slider gallery has a little ‘i’ icon in the bottom right hand corner. Click on this to bring up the picture description.

‘I Dream Of Wires’

i dream of wires still 2 620x654 Link   I Dream Of Wires

wires instruction graphic Link   I Dream Of Wires

Aldeburgh Marshes to Plant Poppy Seeds

Track: The amazing and beautiful ‘Retrograde’ by James Blake. Poppy loved ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ by James Blake which was played at her service.

Cosmo and I are heading off to Suffolk and the wild North Sea Coast of Aldeburgh to plant some Poppy seeds on the marshes tomorrow morning. Thank you everybody for all your love and good wishes.

Planting poppy seeds on a salty marsh is possibly Kanute-like, but I’ve seen some beautiful wild flowers in my time and they’re pretty resilient. I’ve grown poppies in cracks in pavements before. ‘So show me why you’re strong’.

Poppy Seeds 620x619 Aldeburgh Marshes to Plant Poppy Seeds

Cosmo on Marsh2 620x410 Aldeburgh Marshes to Plant Poppy Seeds

Cosmo on Marsh sml 620x410 Aldeburgh Marshes to Plant Poppy Seeds

Hut 620x410 Aldeburgh Marshes to Plant Poppy Seeds

Thanks for Your Kindness & Donations

Thank You WLP Thanks for Your Kindness & Donations

A big Thank You to all of you who came to give your love and support to help send off our beautiful precious Poppy yesterday. It was lovely to see so many people at the service and then later at our house. It gave us strength. So many young people, brave and strong, shedding tears for our darling girl. Thank You.

And also a big thank to all the generosity shown through donations. We are now up to £700, so thank you very much. Poppy would be very pleased and excited.

Thank you to all the speakers at yesterday’s service. Manon Palm, you were very moving and loving, Poppy adored you. My dear friend, Colin Johnson, thank you for everything you have done for us and for speaking my words. Michelle Potter for your bravery and particularly for beautiful Addie and her wonderful poem, which I am reproducing here:




Poem, written and read by Addie Brady at Poppy’s service 12th March 2013

T11 North UCLH we became good mates
Sasha,Tom,Thomas,Shania, Joni Mai,
Sinead,Elin and Owen too, to name a few
Were all good friends to me and to you

Playing games, fun times and laughter
Not so much for the medicine after
It hurt sometimes and made us sleep
But Poppy, I never ever saw you weep

Poppy, you were my best friend
I always hoped you’d heal and mend
But I came home from school one day
To hear the news you’d passed away

Poppy you never seemed to complain
And now you are free from any pain
Sadness and sorrow fill my heart
Because we are now so far apart

Poppy, you’ll always be my best friend
I just don’t see this as the end
I’ll think of you each passing day
There’s not much more I have to say

I’ll miss you Poppy and will never forget
Our friendship wasn’t finished yet
I’ll miss you and our times to together
We’ll always be Best Friends Forever

Eulogy by Philip Teare, read by Colin Johnson at Poppy’s service 12th March 2013

Darling Poppy, sweet beautiful girl,

How I miss you, miss you as I knew I would, with absolute sorrow. But at least you are no longer fearful nor in pain. This is the only comfort I can take through my tears.

You have always been a strong character, when you were born you would not open your eyes. Mummy noticed the midwife fussing and she became hysterical saying something was wrong. I was convinced that you had been born without eyes. True to form, you would not be rushed, then after 3 days you were ready to take a look at the world revealing the most beautiful pair of dazzling blue eyes. In those first few days you did not have a name. Then one morning I drew open the curtains and noticed the bright red Field Poppies swaying and dancing in the streaming sunshine. At that moment I just thought ‘Poppy’. When Cosmo and I went to visit you and Mummy, we came armed with fresh cut poppies. We immediately agreed upon your name, and from that moment on you carried the grand name of Poppy Ernestine Dorothy Teare.

You were such a quirky and creative toddler and when you came to hold a pen I was surprised that you were not left handed as you did things differently right from the start. You have always been artistic and one of life’s originals. As a toddler you dressed in vivid colours and you became familiar with me looking down at you through a camera lens. This was a ritual exchange between us, an act of love we both shared. One of my favourite portraits is of you aged 3 holding Cosmo’s hand, he dressed in only swimming trunks with a large white bandage taped to his forehead. Both of you are looking defiantly into the lens, you sporting an aggressive pout, looking so strong particularly for one so tiny. I treasured this picture keeping it in a little rubber frame by my bedside. When several years later I found myself living in reduced circumstances in a house-share trying to rebuild my life, I used to stare at that picture before going to sleep and I realised that you two beautiful souls had stood by me unconditionally despite my failings. At that moment I promised myself that I would never let you down again and that I would stand close to you until the end of the earth.

As a June baby, you have a natural affinity with the outdoors and nature. You’ve always loved swimming in Lidos and we’ve spent many happy summers splashing around, diving under blue skies or rolling clouds alike, a favourite being swimming amongst the giant bubbles made by falling summer raindrops. Inevitably I’d be asked to swim lengths with you riding on my back as if The Queen of Atlantis. How you’d love to buy slush puppies, chips or sweeties from the tuck shop. And when we’d go abroad, we could only afford to camp, but you didn’t mind. We’d take the ferry across the sea and pitch our tent right next to the port. We’d watch the sunsetting across The Channel and see England shimmer in the twilight, and at night I’d take you to the toilets and see the funnels from the ferries belching out black plumes of smoke in the moonlight as they waited to sail back to Dover. Early each morning we’d go for a walk along the wide sandy beach to the dunes with you skipping along and asking me constant questions. You’d come with me to buy fresh mussels from the quayside or to the market to buy grilled chickens or Vietnamese spring rolls with chili and soy sauce from that man with the sweet smile. You just loved doing things, taking in life and enjoying the sounds, smells and colours of the world. Oh Poppy, how I love you.

You loved parties of any kind. One year at Halloween before you were ill, Caroline and I had a cocktail party. You amused our guests by wearing a scarey clown mask whilst doing some amazing choreographed dancing to the music. When I asked you how you’d become such a fantastic dancer, and learned those moves, you told me “mummy’s ill in bed so much, I have to amuse myself, so I go in my room and make up dances”. That broke my heart, but was so typical of you, never complaining always finding something creative and beautiful to make despite the heartbreaking circumstances.

And when you became ill yourself, you had the same brave attitude. Before chemo we’d go out to eat in a restaurant which I believe helped you process the chemical onslaught which was to follow. I was always so proud to be with you, my brave little darling. Then with the chemo you’d be lost to the sickness and the drugs that would make you drift in and out of sleep for days on end. After 2 months of your chemotherapy Mummy died. We were in UCH for your treatment and having taken the call, I was waiting in the room with Cosmo for you to return so I could break the tragic news. As I began to tell you and my voice cracked with emotion, you put your arms around me and said “don’t worry Daddy, it’s alright”. You were trying to protect me and that was so typical of you, my beautiful girl.

And when it was time for your operation 7 months later you faced it with very little fear. I told you I hoped we might get out of hospital in a month or so, but never told you this was if everything went perfectly. When Colin the surgeon came to our room at 8:00am you were brave and when at 8:30 you went out with laughing gas, I returned to the room to collect myself before driving back to Hertfordshire and putting my faith in your strength and the wonderful team. I knew if nobody phoned then all was well so didn’t worry when I went to bed at midnight with no word. My phone rang at 2:30am, it was Colin calling from theatre telling me all had gone well and they were finishing up. I slept and awoke with a calm I had not felt for a great many months. When I walked in to Intensive Care and saw you lying there looking so tranquil and beautiful, the natural shape of your face having been returned by the surgeons, I saw my beautiful darling girl had come back to resume her life. Your hair so short, your eyes closed revealing your incredible thick long lashes, you looked so serene like Joan from Carl Dreyer’s ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’. Of course, you were wired up to hundreds of drains and tubes, covered in stitches and grafts, but all I could see was your magnificent heroic beauty. I felt so calm and happy inside.

One morning during your recovery, a hospital cleaner whom we always smiled at, came to clean the room. He began telling me how special you were. How he had been watching us for months and how he noticed that you always put a smile on everyone’s face who came into contact with you. How you were the one who always made people happy and what an amazing presence you had. I was very touched by this and the effect this had had on him. Your effect on people was remarkable, such a skill that cannot be learned. Combined with your amazing creative energy, it would have brought you great rewards. You had no idea of just how wonderful and special you were.

When I drove you home after 4 weeks it was such a triumph. The next day I went to Cross Road to pick up your cat Trinnie to complete our family, and we released her in the little front room which was full of upended boxes. We sat on the floor calling her name and soothing her until she stopped miaowing and came to be stroked. That made us so happy, just to be with our cat, free from hospital at last, and Trinnie no longer alone but reunited with us all. For some reason we would often discuss this simple happiness in recent weeks, perhaps because Trinnie was always by your side as your health began to dwindle. You were so loved Poppy, even animals treated you as very special.

But our quest to get back to a ‘normal life’ was all too short lived, and when a scan showed alarming shadows and it was made clear that they could not operate, we faced a summer of ‘making memories’. Little Darling, however my heart was breaking inside, we had day after day of being together and going on little adventures. A summer of driving through the countryside, to destinations like Welwyn, St Albans, Hatfield or Hertford. Knocking about in your favourite charity shops in Ware, buying knitting needles, or Brats Dolls with oversized heads, or a pink sewing machine to make bunting from John Lewis prints inspired by our Jubilee weekend trip to Westcliffe. We had a summer of enjoying the fields, spotting wild poppies or your particular obsession of spying hidden gypsy camps and speculating as to who or what was inside. One week you’d be a Boat Captain, daily piloting a motorboat up The River Lea, the next you’d become a chicken obsessive, sampling the menus in Nandos in Hatfield and Harlow and sending out little Instagrams of your plates of chicken and spicey rice to your followers. During the Olympics we made hot lemon meringue pies and you painted the torch, made Olympic rings from coloured paper which were proudly displayed in an upstairs bathroom window and collected little figures of Wenlock and Mandeville, the Olympic mascots. We saw the Olympic torch procession as it passed the road in which my dear father was born and two weeks later we spent the day in The Olympic Park, with tickets for synchro swimming and watching Usain Bolt win another Gold on the giant screen as darkness fell. You were dressed in typical Poppy fashion, Team GB shorts, long socks to cover your scars, Jack Wills yellow boating shoes, an Olympic t-shirt colour co-ordinated with your shorts and buff, giant mad Piña Colada shades and a giant gold medal around your neck. You looked like a 21st Century Flava Flav, ever eccentric and ever full of life, my beautiful brave darling girl, always experiencing life to the full and making everyone proud to be with you. Sweet Darling, how I miss you, how I love you, how I just want to hold you tight and tell you everything is going to be alright.

But I can’t and it’s not. The world is empty without you, Sweet Poppy, love of my life. You were so loved and adored by us all, with such a great spirit and straight forward honest character. You were so funny to be with, how I miss holding your hand and kissing your head as I would do, one hundred times everyday.

I’m not sure what we’ll do without you, especially Cosmo and I, but I’ll seek out your spirit when I’m looking at clouds, enjoying the refraction of the sun’s rays in cool blue swimming pools, when I’m sucking on a ‘Twister’ lolly or listening to birds chirping in bushes. I’m going to keep planting wild poppies in wild places so that strangers are touched fleetingly by the wild beauty of a speckle of colour as they pass. And I will be reminded forever of the most beautiful person to have touched my life of whom I’m so so proud to call my wonderful daughter. Sweet Darling Poppy. Goodbye, Sweet Dreams, Stay Close, I Love You.