Food From The Heart

By heart grandparent and fundraiser, Linda Atkins.

I started fundraising for Tiny Tickers seven years ago after we lost Ruby, one of our newborn twin granddaughters, to congenital heart disease (CHD). My daughter was fortunate she was under the care of a consultant because she was expecting twins, and it was the sonographer who did her 20-week scan and gave her the devastating news that Ruby had a heart problem.

Everything was set in place for immediate surgery, but, because the girls were quite small, the doctors decided that it was best to wait until she had put on some weight. Sadly, this never happened. Ruby became ill and died before arrangements could be made to transfer her to Leeds. She was 11 days old.

I started with the usual fundraising events – tombolas, raffles, bric-a-brac stalls and sponsored walks, with the occasional concert or dinner thrown in for good measure. In November 2019, I pledged to organise 20 fundraisers in 2020 to mark Tiny Tickers’ 20th birthday. I got off to a good start until Covid reared its ugly head and scuppered most of my plans, but I still managed 20, just on a much smaller scale than I had planned.

Once things returned to something like normal, I started thinking of something different I could do, that would reach out beyond my supportive friends and local residents. Whilst clearing out a cupboard, I found The Vicar’s Tarts and Other Tasty Dishes, a recipe book I compiled when I was in charge of fundraising for my local church. This gave me the idea to do something similar…only this time asking famous people to contribute and thus, Food From the Heart was born.

The first thing I did was to ask friends and family if they knew anyone famous and, suddenly, I had 12 recipes. I then started writing letters and trawling Twitter, sending off dozens of requests to all sorts of people, most of whom just ignored my message. Others had their PAs reply, saying they were away filming or in the middle of a project, but at least they replied.

When the positive replies started trickling in I was like a child at Christmas and couldn’t contain my excitement. It seemed this project was going to come to fruition after all. Those worth an above-and-beyond mention are Hannah Cockcroft who replied from Tokyo just before the Paralympics started; Nigella Lawson who arranged permission from her publisher for me to use her recipe; Maureen Lipman who used my letter as a bookmark, which she found several weeks later and emailed me to ask if I still needed a recipe and Ian McMillan who wrote the poem about his mother-in-law’s meat and tatie pie to accompany the recipe.

What my fundraising has taught me is that there are so many kind people out there who often have a story of their own to tell. I will take credit for getting the recipes and celebrity photographs together and typing them all out, but this would never have got off the ground if it wasn’t for Aimee from Tiny Tickers and her 12-year-old daughter Susie who, in their own time, designed the book, tried out some of the recipes and took photographs. I cannot thank them enough for all their hard work. Another honourable mention must go to the anonymous donor who paid the printing costs, thus enabling all proceeds from the book to go straight to Tiny Tickers. Obviously, I know their identity, but I was told in no uncertain terms that this information was to remain between the two of us and Ruby.

And finally, the book. It is on sale for a suggested donation of £6 plus postage. Contact me on if you are interested in buying one. As I write, proceeds stand at £566 but I still have a few local ones to deliver, so it should soon top £600.

The photograph is Ruby’s twin sister Francesca, known as Frankie, who will be seven at the end of March. She has been aware of Ruby’s story right from the start and is always keen to help with our fundraising activities.