May, 2021

Launch of “Dear Vina” Letter Writing Service

Group Hug launches it’s first service – “Dear Vina” – Write a letter and Free Your Mind.


Dear Vina

May, 2021

Development Starts Again

Having stopped development due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it starts again.

February, 2021

Broadcast Partner – Dales Radio

Local radio station Dales Radio becomes Group Hug broadcast partner here in the Yorkshire Dales.


Dales Radio - Broadcast Partner for Group Hug

January, 2021

Development Stops

Having started development again it is stopped once again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

October, 2020

Co-OP Local Community Fund

Group Hug has been chosen as one of the Co-Op’s Local Community Fund partners for the Leyburn store.



Group Hug Chosen for the Co-op Local Community Fund

October, 2020

Development Starts Again

Having stopped development due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it starts again.

September, 2020

82 Partners selling Send-a-Hug Cards

Within 2 months of launching the Send-A-Hug Partner Program Group Hug has partnered with 82 businesses. The support for our service is confirmed by the support from local businesses.

The partner program is simple, we find local business partners to host our Send-A-Hug cards, they sell them on our behalf and give back the donations raised.

We now cover Wensleydale, Swaledale, Richmond, Bedale, Skipsea and Beverley.


Ellie Bates of Chapel Gallery Hawes

August, 2020

Get-5-a-Day for your Mental Health

A local campaign was launched to help people concentrate on their Mental Health during a worldwide pandemic.

Get-5-a-Day was simple, like eating 5 healthy things a day, why not concentrate on your Mental Health 5 times a day.

Get 5 a Day for your Mental Health

Get-5-a-day for your Menatl Health supported by Campbells of leyburn

July, 2020

Send-a-Hug Cards Launched

A new Partner Program is launched to help raise funds to support he Volunteer Support Program.

The partner program is simple, we find local business partners to host our Send-A-Hug cards, they sell them on our behalf and give back the donations raised

.Send a Hug Gift Card

May, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – Richmondshire Today Coverage

Launch of Goody Bag Project 2 for the “We Will Meet Again” Campaign.


Richmondshire Today Magazine Goody Bag Drop

May, 2020

May, 2020

April, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – BBC Look North – With Phil Chapman


.BBC New Look North with Phil Chapman

April, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – Richmondshire Today Coverage


Richmondshire Today Magazine Goody Bag Drop

April, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – Darlington and Stockton Times – Story Coverage

April, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – 1027 Goody Bags Delivered

After a very busy week, the plan was in place and the local community hubs were starting to submit their numbers for the Goody Bag Drops.

With the thanks to Miles from Wensleydale Brewery, we managed to deliver every other day and here are the stats.

“We Will Meet Again” – Stats

  • Wednesday 22nd April – 248 Goody Bags
  • Friday 24th April – 267 Goody Bags
  • Sunday 26th April – 161 Goody Bags
  • Tuesday 28th April – 335 Goody Bags
  • Thursday 30th April – 9 Goody Bags
  • Nominated Recipients – 7 Goody Bag


Patrick Brompton, Newton le Willows, Spenithorne, Harmby, Hughton, Middleham, Carlton, Coverdale, Leyburn, Bellerby, Wensley, Preston under Scar, West Witton, West Burton, Thorably, Aysgarth, Bainbridge, Breconbar, Hawes, Askrigg, Carperby, Redmire, Bolton Castle, Downholme, Reeth, Healaugh, Thwaite, Keld and beyond


Community Projects
The Assisted Housing in Reeth, the homeless at the Jonas Centre Redmire, the retired jockeys at Middleham and 52 staff and volunteers at the The Little White Bus Company

NHS Staff and Key Workers…

NHS Staff in Reeth, Hawes, Aysgarth and Leyburn, Bainbridge and Leyburn Ambulance, district nurses, midwives, 23 strong mental health nurses and 40 NHS staff who live in the area but work outside in either Cumbria Hospitals or our local hospital’s


Key Workers
The Chemist, Co-op, Campbell’s of Leyburn, One Stop, Moles Country Store, Postal Workers, Leyburn and Reeth Fire Fighters, Teachers in Leyburn Primary, Middleham and Spenithorne and Wensleydale School


Nominated Drops
Various nominated volunteers and public nominations went to a care worker looking after vulnerable adults, Halls Family Butchers for outstanding community work, people with dementia and heroes in villages.

April, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – Campaign Named

I needed a name for the Goody Bag drops and whilst listening to Her Majesty The Queen, I heard the message loud and clear.

“We Will Meet Again” – That was the name of the Project

March, 2020

2 Weeks – 30 Businesses and 6 Private Individuals £3000 Raised

Within 2 weeks, I’d put in plan in place to provide a Goody Bag and Mental Health Boost the Yorkshire Dales.

I sought the backing of 30 businesses and 6 private individuals and began to plan the Goody Bag Drops.

March, 2020

“We Will Meet Again” – Darlington and Stockton Times

March, 2020

Covid-19 is making progress into the UK

As development continues, there’s an alarming worry throughout the world to do with spread of the Covid-19 virus.

2 weeks before lockdown happened, I realised that people’s mental health would be terribly affected by this situation.

I sought some backing from Jonathan Barker Manager at the Co-op in Leyburn and floated the idea of Goody Bags with him, he immediately pledged money.

March, 2020

Development Stopped

Our development plan is stopped due to the worldwide Covid-a9 Pandemic.

January, 2020

Development In Progress

Development is underway, however like all good projects, the pathway changes as we cycle through the plan.

Development continues

November, 2019

“Volunteer Support Program” Launched

Our volunteers are the biggest asset to this project.

The HR side of running a volunteer based Enterprise for Social Good is a big task and the plans are put in place to start and create the 40 polices required to manage our systems.

October, 2019

Bold pledge – 100000 in 2 years

100k = people

It’s my bold pledge.

I’m pledging to help 100000 people in chats in the first 2 years.

I think I can do it, do you?

October, 2019

Development starts

Group Hug App can start.

It’s taken from June to October to get this going, its been very difficult, time consuming and well worth it.

October, 2019

Bounced Back

Ant and Dec did it!

I owe it to them, these two guys have had their fair share of mental health issues and both have injected life into me again.

The announcement of “Britain Get Talking” was the inspiration to get back on track.

Here, on national TV is a campaign to do exactly what I want to do for Group Hug App.

#BritainGetTalking is all about getting the county talking again. Group Hug App goes that one step further and offers a discreet, private and safe place to talk should you feel there’s no one else to talk to.

October, 2019

Thank you Ant and Dec

So hear I am, a Saturday night and I’ve put the TV on.

As my followers know, I don’t watch TV that much, but here I am watching ITV and Britains Got Talent finals.

To my surprise Ant and Dec announce a new Mental Health Campaign – in conjunction with ITV they announce “Get Britain Talking”

Here on national TV are Ant and Dec promoting a campaign to help Mental Health. To get people talking again, to encourage people to talk.

This is what Group Hug App is all about

September, 2019

Redesign needed

Now I know what people mean by red tape.

So instead of fighting it, its always best to embrace it.

The definition of a geek is someone who researches and researches a subject until they become an expert in it.

I suppose I’m a geek?

Time to redesign some fundamental areas of the app.

Things start to look very difficult, however I’m determined to get going with this and I’m not giving up

2000 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

September, 2019

Safeguarding Made Top Priority

It was very clear the app would potentially help vulnerable people, so safeguarding was top priority.

This is quite easy when you use technology, geo location services tells where anyone is within 3 metres, questions on entry to the app can try and determine a persons state of mind, just some simple questions can give a lot away.

I’m passionate about helping people and as a responsible person, I could never go to market with a solution which was not fully through from end to end.

August, 2019

1900 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

August, 2019

Determined to hurdle red tape

Summer was difficult for me. Every way I turned it seemed I hit a brick wall, red tape was strangling me and now holding me up.

I was tempted to give up, but something inside my gut was telling me to drive on. This is just rules and policies I kept telling myself.

I have vast life and business experience, all I had to do is keep on it, never give up.

I know the reasons behind it, everyone needs to be safeguarded? Right?

What about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, do they do safeguarding?

What about huge corporate machines who speak to millions of people face to face each day, do they do safeguarding?

They don’t, but here I am expected to do it all.

July, 2019

Good Luck – was what she said

Having announced Group Hug on Instagram and Facebook, I soon started to get interest from many different people.

I had the pleasure of being grilled by one of the top specialists in the industry.

I had no idea who it was, then the next thing I’m been put through the mill, my tyres well and truly kicked.

But who was this lady?

Well the lady kicking my tyres was one of the original team who set up and managed Childline. I was shocked, here I am getting interest from someone I admired to be a specialist in the field.

We spoke for a couple of hours and exchanged many questions and answers.

I was blessed with a “good luck” and swiftly told its a great idea, but it would be red tape that could be the problem.

July, 2019

Group Hug – Social media launched

In such a short period of time I’d thought of the idea, designed it, named it and managed to land 6 Group Hugs initially.

Time for a soft social media launch.



July, 2019

1800 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

June, 2019

Next up – the Black Country

I contacted another follower, Sally Shillingford, a keen photographer from the Black Country.

Sally expressed her interest with immediate effect and I tasked her to think of a group and a concept close to her heart.

A few days later Sally was in, she wanted to help others who are experiencing living their life in fear, letting anxiety rule their life.

Fear No Fear was born

6 Groups in 6 days, more needed.

Group 6 – Fear no Fear

Founder – Sally Shillingford

Coverage: The Black Country

Aims: A service specifically offered to people in the Black Country and it’s about life and living with fear

Sally wants to draw on her own life experience and share some thoughts on how she deals with the very situation.

Volunteers Requirements:

Anyone with experience of anxiety is all we need and a good ear to listen and talk about your own experiences.

Volunteer Location:

In the Black Country Only

June, 2019

4 Groups Created – whats next

4 groups formed, I wanted more. The drive and determination was there and so I started communicating with another long standing Instagram friend Cat Dean.

A farmers wife and mother Cat explained she could create a group based on giving support to anyone who is an adult and experiencing the ups and downs of family life.

Let’s Talk Family was born

5 Groups in 5 days, more needed.

Group 5 – Lets Talk Family

Founder – Cat Dean

Coverage: UK wide

Aims: To offer a service to anyone experiencing issues with everyday life relating to family, from parenting to adulthood.

Cat is passionate to help others, as a wife and parent, she knows the stresses and strains linked to family life.

Volunteers Requirements:

Anyone with family life experience is all we need and a good ear to listen and talk about your own experiences.

Volunteer Location:

In the UK

June, 2019

What could I do?

When my dad died, I know the heartache, pain and stress caused. In my case, it was caused by outside influences, but with the added complexity, my dad was dying.

Following his death in 2012 I always wanted to do something that could help Friends of Cancer patients. Yes, a hospice is beautiful and calming place, but as a family member, it can be quite daunting.

So too, living with a family member who has cancer. What do you say, what do you do, I can’t talk to anyone about this, I don’t want to let my emotions out, I don’t want to burden my family, friends or loved one.

Back in 2012, I’d always dreamed of having a “Friends of Cancer” something, now was the time, a new group was needed, I actually had the idea in my mind for the thing I always wanted to do.

Friends Of Cancer – Yorkshire was born

4 Groups in 4 days, more needed.

Group 4 – Friends Of Cancer – Yorkshire

Founder – Me

Coverage: Yorkshire wide

Aims: To be a friend to someone with Cancer or someone who has a friend with Cancer

Ever since 2012, I’ve wanted to be able to launch and create such a service, 7 years later and I can safety say I will.

Volunteers Requirements:

Anyone who has experienced loss from Cancer. Life experience is all we need and a good ear to listen and talk about your own experiences.

Volunteer Location:

In the UK

June, 2019

A winning concept

To prove to myself this was a winning concept I reached out to more people.

The next person I spoke to was another long standing Instagram follower, Alison Field.

I explained the concept and within minutes Alison was on board.

But what was she thinking? which Group Hug could she support?

Alison is keen to help people who suffer from Anxiety caused by Menopause. Not only women, but family members affected by it.

Peggy’s Ear was born

3 Groups in 3 days, more needed.

Group 3 – Peggy’s Ear

Founder – Alison Field

Coverage: UK wide

Aims: To talk and help people with Anxiety caused by Menopause

Suitably named after Alison’s mother Peggy. Peggy’s Ear is designed to offer a good listening service to people experiencing Anxiety through Menopause.

Its designed for women, men and family members, everyone can be affected and Alison says it’s open to everyone.

Volunteers Requirements:

Anyone who has a good ear, or personally suffered from anxiety and menopause, keen to listen.

Volunteer Location:

In the UK

June, 2019

Social media to the rescue

Excited to share the news, I contacted an Instagram follower by the name of lord_hatfield who lives up the Dale in Hawes. I chatted to him for a short period and could tell he was eager to join the club.

Having helped a few ex service people try and settle in the area, he could see the power and potential for Group Hug in this arena.

Ex Service Core was formed

2 Groups in 2 days, more needed.

Group 2 – Ex Service Core

Founder – Kevin Hatfield

Coverage: UK wide

Aims: To help ex service people settle into civilian life

Leaving the Armed Forces can be daunting. Through his own experience of helping others in this situation, Kevin says the Group Hug “Ex Service Core” will be an invaluable and so needed to add some positivity directly into the heart of a community.

Volunteers Requirements:

Anyone who has a good ear, local experience, keen to help.

Volunteer Location:

In the UK

June, 2019

The 1st Group Founded

Having let Victoria down only the week before, I called her and explained what I had decided to do.

It was then when I boldly asked if she would like to lead the way and form the first Group Hug?

Immediately the answer was – I’m in.

We had our first group!

Group 1 – Help 4 Farmers

Founder – Victoria Dimond

Coverage: UK wide

Aims: Available to all farmers

Farming can be very lonely and therefore the Mental Health issues are a high risk.

Thanks to Victoria Dimond for starting this ball rolling and her commitment to helping her community, a community with a record of Mental Health problems.

Volunteers Requirements:

Preferably with farming background or experience, keen to help.

Volunteer Location:

In the UK

June, 2019

Group Hug App is Born

Disheartened I couldn’t help Victoria, I slept on it and dreamed up a new concept.

This is what I’m good at, getting a solution to a problem and fast.

In 24 Hours – Group Hug App was born

What was needed was as a chat-based call center, accessible from anywhere and having the functionality of a full blown telephone solution, but based around chat.

It needed to work in a field, at home, in the shops, at work – it had to be internet based and what better way than through an app.

Using technology and an app on a smart phone, the answer is staring me in my hand – Group Hug App

1800 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

Yorkshire Dales Life Social Media.

June, 2019

Sorry Victoria

In June 2019, Victoria Dimond, a dairy farmer from Somerset and follower on Instagram with her own background of Mental Health issues asked me for some help. She wanted to set up a free phone number and offer a help phone line for farmers.

With deep regret I didn’t have an answer to her requirements which could be cost effective and work.

The requirement was simple, have a number of helpers I could  answer and talk to Farmers who are struggling with Mental Health.

I felt upset, annoyed that I’d failed to help someone who wanted to help others. I felt I’d failed, failed myself, failed Victoria.


Victoreia Dimond - Help 4 Farmers

May, 2019

1600 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

Mental Health Awareness Continues

My daily life played out in front of the people interested in following me is well received.

I enjoy putting my heart and soul into my posts and helping many people see the light and helping people see what they need to do.

Mental Health is a soul destroying and you simply have no idea what anyone is actually experiencing until you ask

Are You Ok?

I’ve experienced 10 years of depression and anxiety and in my case it was all connected to loss and cancer. I knew the heart ache I went through when my mother in law died in 2008. It was only brought back in 2012 when my dad died of cancer.

This was the start of my real downfall.

Instagram Followers 1600

April, 2019

1500 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

Yorkshire Cancer Research Press Release

With Easter just around the corner, Nikki Brady spoke to me about my move to the countryside and how I turned fresh eggs and an Instagram account into hundreds of pounds for Yorkshire Cancer Research.


Read the article here

Donate here to my Yorkshire Cancer Research account

March, 2019

Instagram Posts About Mental Health

Following 10 years of depression and a spark in my new daily life, I started to post messages about mental health along with my photos.

1400 Followers on Instagram

It seems to be taking off, so much interest to follow chicks, the Yorkshire Dales and Mental Health awareness.

Goals Raise £3000 in 1 year

Opened a Heroes Account for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Donate Here

Donate here to my Yorkshire Cancer Research account

February, 2019

Fund Raising Starts

Pay back time.

I’ve decided to raise money for a charity close to my heart.

I’m going to giveaway the hens eggs in return for donations to Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Donate here to my Yorkshire Cancer Research account

January, 2019

Social Media Starts

Launched an Instagram and Facebook Page to profile Yorkshire Dales Life.

1000 followers in 1 month

Goals: to share the lovely countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.


December, 2018

The First Eggs

The flock all settled, I waited eagerly for the first eggs to arrive.

Burning desire to help

Ever since my mother-in-law died of died of Cancer in 2008 and then my father in 2012, I’ve always wanted to do something to pay back.

In 2012 I dreamed of doing some sort of support system for friends of people who have or have had cancer.

Having experienced 2 rounds of this awful disease, I just knew I had to do something, I had a burning desire to pass on what I knew, my personal experience, if only I could let others know what it was like.

I even registered a domain called friends of cancer, however I was not in the right place, I was depressed, nothing would have happened.

7 years on, its a different game.

November, 2018

The Move

I moved from Leeds to the Yorkshire Dales. With stunning views, surrounded by beautiful countryside I settled in really quickly.

I always wanted chickens and purchased a new flock hens, 8 in total.

The Flock:

  • Mrs Meran
  • Meatloaf
  • Dafney
  • Henrietta
  • Kiwi
  • Benedict
  • Perry
  • BB