Much more important than mindless celebrity gossip

Home closure will give residents some respite

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Most of my columns are light-hearted anecdotes about my trials and tribulations, or else they discuss the latest word in the entertainment world.

Some people ask me why somebody who trained as a journalist chooses to follow mindless celebrity gossip instead of covering serious news subjects.

My answer is usually always the same – I do it because I love it. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s because my head is always in the clouds and I long for escapism, the kind of escapism that showbiz provides.

Anyway, this week I have decided to be serious. When I heard about what an old school friend of mine, Lorraine Blackburn, has gone through over the past couple of years, I was determined to do something to help.

So instead of talking about Kerry Katona (still in Dancing on Ice) or Katie Price (apparently she tried to get back with Alex), I’m going to talk instead about a little boy called Owen Blackburn.

I want to tell you about the wonderful dedication of medical staff who tried to save his life and the fundraising efforts of his parents, Lorraine and Chris. who live in Waterlooville.

We often moan about the NHS, don’t we? You know you do. I certainly do.

But hearing about Owen and my recent trip to America made me realise how damn lucky we are to have a healthcare system that is available to all and hospitals such as the QA and St Mary’s.

Owen, who had a congenital heart defect, passed away at the age of three months in September 2009 after receiving round-the-clock care at neonatal clinics in Portsmouth and Southampton.

Somehow his parents have found the strength to arrange fundraising events, with all the proceeds going to both clinics. Last year they raised a whopping £8,500 and I really hope that they exceed that total this year. A sponsored charity walk takes place next Saturday March 5, from Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton to the QA and a big charity party is being organised at Waterlooville Community Centre on Saturday March 19.

If you can help Lorraine and Chris’s continued efforts to support the clinics that helped their beloved son, please contact them on 07977480216 or