Mike Baker's Cancer Blog

This blog was listed at Number 5 in Cision's Top 10 Cancer Blogs in the UK, 2011. 

The Rambling Bakers

Hello everyone!

We will keep this short and sweet, and save all of our 'ramblings' for September. But we are doing a sponsored walk of The Coleridge Way in Somerset in memory of Mike, and also to raise money once again for the amazing work carried out by Villiers Park Educational Trust.

We have set up a Virgin Money Giving page, where you can see all the details of the walk. The link is:


Thank you in advance for all your generous donations!

Lots of love,

Chrissy, Louise, and Rachel

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16 Aug 2015

A Fund Raising Success - Thank you!

Hi everybody,

It's amazing - we have reached our target and beyond for Mike's memorial fund! It now stands at £2,400 !!!

We are overwhelmed by people's generosity, so thank you so much to everyone who has contributed (it's not too late if you have been meaning to!!).

We also say a huge thank you to Justin and his fantastic team from Communications Management. A lot of them knew Mike really well so felt this challenge was close to their heart. His legacy continues and his spirit continues to touch so many hearts. The disadvantaged children benefit in so many ways that cannot be measured, but we all know and remember when seemingly small influences, experiences or meetings can change our lives forever.

By the way, the winning team managed to visit 23 universities or colleges on the day - Justin said it was hard work but good fun so well done all of you!

This will be the only big fund raiser this year but next year we are thinking about a sponsored walk - I rather like the challenge of a dawn start but have to check…

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28 May 2014

update about May 13th - We need more sponsors !!

We also wanted to confirm that all money raised on MAY 13th WILL be going into Mike's memorial fund .The information put on the just giving site has now been changed in case people were unsure -I certainly was !                                                                                                                                          Villiers Park will be funding another scholars programme focusing on writing and communication skills which is really good news as more students will benefit from this wonderful legacy you are all helping to continue for Mike .

I can confirm that everyone on may 13th will be walking for the 6 hours so lets cheer them on and wish them all the best - Lou , Rach and I are so grateful they are doing this and thank you everybody if you have sponsored them or will be . 

Here is the link to the virgin money giving page again



Enjoy the summer

Love Lou ,Rach and Chrissy

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07 May 2014

update about May 13th - We need more sponsors !!

We also wanted to confirm that all money raised on MAY 13th WILL be going into Mike's memorial fund .The information put on the just giving site has now been changed in case people were unsure -I certainly was !                                                                                                                                          Villiers Park will be funding another scholars programme focusing on writing and communication skills which is really good news as more students will benefit from this wonderful legacy you are all helping to continue for Mike .

I can confirm that everyone on may 13th will be walking for the 6 hours so lets cheer them on and wish them all the best - Lou , Rach and I are so grateful they are doing this and thank you everybody if you have sponsored them or will be . 

Here is the link to the virgin money giving page again



Enjoy the summer

Love Lou ,Rach and Chrissy

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07 May 2014 1 comments - read and reply.

Fund raising day on May13th for Mike's memorial fund

 Hi everybody 

Sorry we have been out of touch for rather too long - we meant to wish you all a happy healthy 2014 but time slipped by and suddenly it's April ! We are all fine and a trip to Marrakech in March (the 3 of us) perked us all up and now with spring arriving properly we feel energies rising . 

Justin Shaw and his team at Communications Management are being brilliant and organising a fund raising day on May 13th for Mike's memorial fund at Villiers Park Educational Trust. The employees are visiting as many London universities as they can in 6 hours so its sounds pretty challenging! I am not sure if they run or walk or just use their initiative. If I get to know any more I will post a blog entry .

This will be the only fundraising event for Mike's fund this year so please be generous and remember disadvantaged  bright children are benefitting so much from the scholars programme and the journalism courses that ran so successfully in January this year. We are so keen for these courses to continue.I will be presenting the awards for the scholars in June which…

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13 Apr 2014 3 comments - read and reply.

Bakers Bikers reach the beach

We did it!

70 miles cycling up and down the North Devon hills - and boy were there a lot of steep hills! Some of us actually walked down some of the steeper ones. One of the tougher ones was, would you believe it, called Baker's Hill!

Technology worked out we climbed 6,000 feet overall, equivalent to two Sca Fells!! What an achievement.

It was a fantastic team effort with drivers and cyclists all playing their valuable part. Everybody looking out for everyone and never any complaining (that I heard anyway!) which was amazing.

Sixteen of us set off on Saturday morning with a fair wind behind us and a cloudy sky. This and some sunny patches set the weather tone for the weekend apart from a 20 minute drenching on Sunday! We expected punctures (had three all on the first day - one cyclist having two in twenty minutes), but did not expect a flat tyre on one of the cars!. This was quickly sorted by Bakers Bikers muscle and team spirit. An interesting off piste detour around Barnstable took us onto a dual carriageway with a three-laned…

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09 Sep 2013 2 comments - read and reply.

Day 1 Complete!

Hi all,

So, day 1 of our Baker's Bikers bike ride is complete! Phew..

Sixteen of us donned the 'blue and white' (Ipswich colours of course), and cycled up steep hills, through the windy lanes, up steep hills, down by a canal, up steep hills, and past some very amused cows. Did I mention that we cycled up some steep hills?

The weather felt like the four seasons had rolled into one - we had the cold, sun, wind and rain - but we made it, and in a very respectable time of 6 hours. I know we are doing Mike proud.

Here is a photo of us at the finish line - clearly very happy!

Now for a good night sleep in preparation for day 2....thanks again for all donations received so far. We have nearly raised our target of £5,000!!

Love Chrissy, Louise and Rachel

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07 Sep 2013 4 comments - read and reply.

Thank you for all your donations

Hi everyone,

We hope everyone is having a nice summer so far.
Since our last blog post we have raised an astounding £1,500 for the 'BAKER’S BIKE RIDE’, so a massive thank you to everyone who has already donated as this is an amazing achievement and we feel truly touched!
It is the money that we raise, and this money alone, that helps to support the Journalism course and the annual student awards at Villiers Park Educational Trust. Our aim is to raise enough money to keep the course and award scheme running forever, but we need your help! The generosity of everyone so far has really inspired us so we are upping our fundraising target to £3,000...which we know is definitely achievable! Please help us to reach this goal by visiting our fundraising site: www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Bakersbikers20 Thank you in advance for all your donations...each one is very much appreciated.
The bike ride preparations themselves are well underway - we have purchased the oh-so-glamorous padded shorts so we are ready to take on those hills!
One of the BAKER’S BIKERS potentially taking on the bike ride will be Nigel Griffiths, Chrissy’s cousin, who visited Villiers…

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22 Aug 2013 3 comments - read and reply.

The Big Bike Ride

Hello everybody

We had a slight hiccup with the blog as people have not been receiving email reminders and have been unable to post comments. Sorry about that but it is all fixed now - thanks Joe,

I wrote a piece on the blog in June after we buried Mike's ashes on 31st May so do have a look at that. 


The BAKER'S BIKERS  are riding from The Parlour at Clayhidon to our favourite beach - Putsborough on the North Devon coast. 

The date: September 7th & 8th

The hills are going to be steep and the going tough so please sponsor us to raise money for Mike's memorial trust - I'm sure the more we raise the 'flatter' it will get!!

We have set up a Virgin Money fundraising site: www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Bakersbikers20

I know most of you know all about the Villiers Park Educational Trust where Mike was a trustee but it's always good to have an update:

Villiers Park Educational Trust is doing a fantastic job helping 14-18 year…

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31 Jul 2013

The Burial of Mike’s Ashes, Friday 31st May

At 2:30 a small gathering of 25 family and friends made a loving, supportive semi-circle around the beautiful spot in Clayhidon churchyard where Mike’s ashes will rest.

The glorious sunshine enhanced the abundant spring flowers, rolling hills and birdsong that seemed to be just for us during the silent moments. Continuing the Baker tradition we punctuated the short ceremony with 2 uplifting songs - a Thunderbridge Boys song ‘Keep on Walking’ and an old family favourite for long holiday drives - ‘It Takes a Worried Man’ sung by Chris Barber, Van Morrison and Lonnie Donegan from their skiffle sessions recorded in 1998. We used to tease Mike that this was his song, and he loved singing along to it.

I chose to read ‘Death is Nothing At All’ by Henry Scott Holland, a poem that sang to my soul and just felt so right. I could hear Mike saying the words;

Speak to me in the easy way you always would,
Put no difference into your tone,
Wear no forced…

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23 Jun 2013 1 comments - read and reply.

Our Visit to Villiers Park

Our visit to Villiers Park confirmed that Mike’s memorial fund (now at a staggering £15,000) is in good hands. Louise and Rachel, my gorgeous girls, came with me and we met Mike Sparkes and Jonathan Turner (close friends from Mike’s university days and mostly gorgeous!) and when we arrived, Richard Gould the Chief Executive gave us a guided tour with a thorough and impressive explanation of Villiers Park Educational Trust.

Meeting some of the students over lunch was fun and their enthusiasm was infectious and heartening. One girl said to me “all my friends were jealous that I was coming to Villiers Park”. This impressed me particularly as going away to work “really hard” for a week is not every student’s idea of fun. They do have fun though, make new friends with similar interests and are truly inspired and motivated in the relaxed atmosphere that Villiers Park creates.

Richard told us many of the teachers at the schools sending the students have noticed a positive impact on the ethos and culture of their schools. The ripple effect in action!

Jonathan wrote after the visit: “After out visit and long discussion it was easy to see why Mike had developed…

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17 Feb 2013 1 comments - read and reply.

Happy New Year

Hello everyone,

A big thank you for all the amazing letters that I have received over the past few months.  The heart felt words and thoughts have really helped me to cope during this period. I will get round to replying to them eventually!

The memorial fund is now at an amazing fourteen thousand pounds, so thank you very much to everyone who donated so generously. We will be able to do so much with this money and so many students will benefit so that's really good news. The girls and I will be visiting Villiers Park's Cambridge Centre in February, and we will be meeting some of the students so we will let you know how that goes.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas - we went to the panto in Richmond (oh no we didn't! oh yes we did!) - and the girls and I wish you all a very happy, joyous and relaxing 2013.

Love Chrissy, Louise and Rachel 

P.S sorry this a little late but we had to update the domain name! Technology - don' t you just love it!

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04 Jan 2013 6 comments - read and reply.

Mike's Memorial Service

Photo: Mike with a group of Scholars at Villiers Park in 2011.

It was an overcast day for the memorial service but with the numbers in excess of 300, the wonderful tributes, poems and live jazz music all added up to an incredible service in memory of Mike. For me and the girls all the anxiety and organising was worthwhile.

Thank you so much to everyone who came, gave tributes, or thought about Mike from afar. It was all so special and we will hold the day in our hearts forever.

Thank you also for all the generous donations. More than £3,000 has been raised already, which is a fantastic start to the memorial fund. Significant amounts have also been raised for the National Education Trust and Princess Alice Hospice.

We are very happy that Villiers Park Educational Trust is to honour Mike’s memory by establishing a fund that will help disadvantaged young students aged 14-19 participate in their educational activities. Through their Inspiring Excellence Programme of residential courses and their Scholars Programme, students develop key skills, self-confidence, a passion for learning and academic success. The fund will be…

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25 Nov 2012 4 comments - read and reply.

Memoral Service Details - Parking

Just a quick note to say that for those of you coming to Mike's memorial service tomorrow, there is parking at the Church but it is limited, therefore we suggest parking around Ham Common or on the road leading up to Ham gate, both of which are only a 5 minute walk away.

Look forward to seeing you all,

Love from Chrissy Louise and Rachel

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16 Nov 2012 9 comments - read and reply.

Memorial service details

 Close friends and family all celebrated Mike's life on October 5th. St Andrew's Church, decorated for harvest festival with the backdrop of the rolling Blackdown Hills, looked stunning. The amazing tributes and live music from a local group the 'Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys' made it a beautiful, emotional but uplifting service - the girls and I felt all the warmth and love and as a friend commented, the whole day was 'very Mike'.


The memorial service for Mike will take place on November 17th Saturday at 3pm, at St Andrews Church (yes, same name but different place!) in Ham, Church Road, TW10 5HG.

There will be tea and cake after the service. Alternatively, if you feel like something stronger there are two very good pubs just down the road on Ham Common (The Hand and Flower and The New Inn). 

Getting there:

Cars - There is parking at the Church but slightly limited.  

Bus - the 65 stops very close by, on Ham Common which you can easily get from Kingston and Richmond. 

Taxi - good local taxi firm: Crown Cars 0208 546 4444


Many of you asked if the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys could play at the memorial…

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12 Oct 2012 14 comments - read and reply.

Chrissy here

Chrissy here. These may be the hardest words to write but it seems natural to continue Mike's story. The heartfelt words and responses to his blog have helped to carry us positively through the last 18 months of his life - this I absolutely do not doubt. The waves of love and warmth washed over us increasing our inner strength and resolve. He decided with our blessing to 'go public' and now I must help him with the final entry. I believe he will help me and would want you all to know our experience of the hospice.

Catherine our wonderful palliative care nurse strongly recommended the hospice on Monday 17th September to manage Mike's abdominal discomfort. Medications could be tried and changed more easily. Mike nodded and I felt a tinge of relief so we both knew this was the right time. On Tuesday morning I was able to drive Mike there, Rachel poised with the oxygen if needed. He was calm but anxious. This frown of anxiety melted into relief as smiles of welcome punctuated our wheelchair ride to room 13. A lovely light room overlooking an inner…

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26 Sep 2012 62 comments - read and reply.

Sad News

Photo: Taken on the afternoon of Tuesday 18th September at Princess Alice Hospice


This is a quick post to let everyone know that our dear Mike died very peacefully at the hospice on Friday September 21st at 12:20pm. Chrissy, Louise and Rachel were all at his side. He was surrounded by love. 

We will write a more detailed entry to the blog in the next few days, but in the meantime tune in to radio 4 today at 18:00 as Nick Higham will be broadcasting an obituary. 

There will be a memorial service in due course, details to follow. 

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22 Sep 2012 170 comments - read and reply.

Making hospitals bearable

Making hospitals bearable

Just a very brief update to start with. I'm still at home and still largely bed-chair bound, and still suffering pain as my poor body tries to get the measure of pain killers, the bloating, constipation and the build up of gas. At one point I'm in so much pain I had agreed to go to the hospice, but at the last moment I decided I'd rather be at home. It's silly but all of this is much more painful then the underlying cancer.

On Friday I was also whisked by ambulance into the Royal Marsden Hospital for a MRI scan. This follwed a very painful attack down my arms and back, and there was fear it might have triggered the cancer getting further into the bones but the scan proved ok. It still took many more hours to make my get away, which we finally did by taxi mini cab. Luckily I had one new diversion, I was loaned a ukulele, so now im trying to master a few chords. Not as easy as I hoped, but worth persevering as I think singing - even singing as bad as mine - will help…

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12 Sep 2012 30 comments - read and reply.

I'm still here ....still kicking!

 Sorry it's been quiet for a few days. It's not just that I've been busy reading your lovely posts but I have been feeling very rough and it has never been my intention for this to be a moan about being unwell. Let me just say, the problem is less about the cancer and more about dealing with the side-effects of the painkillers. Every time you start a new medication, there's a new side-effect. Some side-effects are worse than the main illness.

So I've been very useless and weak. But the community medical support has been tremendous from the district nurse, to the Princess Alice hospice nurse, and my wonderful GP. But most of all from family. I fear the static exercise bike has not been used much but I still intend to get pedalling. One great little tip I was given by Gerry Slade, who runs a Mesothelioma support group at Papworth Hospital is that a hand-held fan held just in front of your face is a terrific antidote to breathlessness. Something to do with the effect on the facial muscles. it really works - very good for panic attacks when you feel unable to breathe. 

On a sad…

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06 Sep 2012 42 comments - read and reply.

A quick update

 So sorry for the lack of news but I've been so listless, lethargic and breathless that even pressing keys on the iPad felt like breaking rocks.

I am now home again, returning on Wednesday afternoon from the Brompton. After much wavering, the decision was that since the chest drain hadn't released that much fluid - and that fluid wasn't infected - it was not worth doing a bigger chest operation because of the pain  and risks involved. It might seem a counsel of despair but I think it's a realistic assessment of the underlying state of my cancer, which has deteriorated.

I've been so grateful to my old Cambridge friend, now a lung cancer consultant, for helping to guide me through this difficult time. Mark has been so generous with his time coming to visit me between his busy shifts at Papworth Hospital. Today he and his wife Gerry came to visit me. As she's a cancer nurse, between them they gave lots of useful tips about pain relief and dealing with breathlessness.

I now feel I am building a support network and I had a really good visit from the palliative care nurse from the Princess Alice Hospice. Ironically…

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01 Sep 2012 77 comments - read and reply.

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