Ness and Jack on Burnham-On-Sea beach

An eating disorder sufferer in Burnham-On-Sea who owns a Crufts-winning dog is to hold a unique fundraising initiative this month to raise funds for a cause close to her heart.

Vanessa Holbrow – known as Ness – and her re-homed Border Terrier, Sir Jack Spratticus, won the Crufts 2018 Friends for Life award last year, as Burnham-On-Sea.com reported here.

Ness suffers from a complex eating disorder, and makes jewellery as a therapeutic hobby. The items she makes are branded after her dog, and she is planning to hold a week-long ‘Make-a-thon’ when she aims to make 100 pieces of jewellery to raise funds for Beat, an eating disorder support charity.

It will take place during Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which runs from 25th February to 3rd March.

Speaking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, she said: “I have been making jewellery for approximately two years. This has proved to be a mindful therapeutic hobby. This was branded ‘JackSpratt Jewellery’ after my Border Terrier. I re-homed Jack from Border Terrier Welfare UK in 2012 and therefore have sold items made locally in aid of this charity.”

Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell presenting the Crufts 2018 award

“A majority of the pieces I make are fairy basic, but are made with love. JSJ has been available to purchase locally in Burnham-On-Sea’s Sea Breeze art gallery in Victoria Street since 2016, with sincere thanks to Lizzie and Rhonda.”

“For our ‘Make-a-thon’, 100 pieces will be made in a week – so a pair of earrings will represent one piece. The intention is to have all 100 pieces ready for Sock it to Eating Disorders Day on Friday 1st March.”

She adds: “My physical health status is chronically vulnerable due to disordered eating presenting as Anorexia and therefore I am fragile, hence my reason for coming up with a sedentary fundraising attempt.”

“A percentage of at least 20% from my pieces silver or gold plated made as a result of this Make-a-thon that are sold will be donated to Beat. The jewellery range made can be seen on Facebook here.”

Jack was rescued by Border Terrier Welfare in 2012, and is now Ness’ Owner Trained, Assistance Dog for Mental Health.

The dog is credited with saving Ness’ life, having helped her overcome various mental health problems including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), Dissociative Disorders (DD) and an eating disorder.

Ness said: “Jack’s journey from a rescue dog is extraordinary. I rehomed him at 13 months and I was his fourth home. He was a considerable challenge initially because of his aggressive behaviour.”

“We spent many weeks in dog training classes and we even had to go in a broom cupboard initially during lessons because of Jack’s terrible behaviour. He had a lot to learn.”

“Since then, he’s become a wonderful pet and an incredibly special loving companion for me.”

Jack’s now an owner trained Assistance Dog for Mental Health and Ness is fundraising for Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, during Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) from 25th February to 3rd March.

She adds: “Beat’s vision is to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. This charity is a champion, guide and friend to anyone affected, giving sufferers and their loved ones a place where they feel listened to, supported and empowered.”

“Sock it to Eating Disorders Day highlights the fact that eating disorder sufferers face an average wait of three and a half years for specialist treatment.”

“Beat, Sir Jack and I suggest this is an opportunity for everyone dig out their brightest, boldest socks this day, during EDAW. Ask your workplace, or school to stand up and Sock It to Eating Disorders. Wear your socks, take a #sockitselfie, while if possible, donating to Beat via Ness & Sir Jack’s fundraising page here. This way you play a vital role in ending the pain and suffering caused. It’s that simple.”

“We know the sooner someone gets help, the faster they can recover, lessening the impact on their life, family and future. Beat provides training to help GPs and teachers spot the early signs and symptoms, and empowers them with the knowledge to support someone who is unwell.”

“Beat’s essential Helplines and online support groups give sufferers and their loved ones a place to feel listened to and supported – and it’s only possible because of people like in communities who support fundraisers.”

“I am socking it to eating disorders (ED) to raise funds for Beat and awareness. I hope this goes some small way towards helping Beat change the lives of all those affected by ED. In 2014 Beat celebrated their 25th anniversary.”

“This charity has been unrelenting in driving forward and strives to make a difference to the lives of those affected by these serious mental illnesses.”

“I am also doing this for personal reasons due to my friends who lost their lives to an ED, in memory of them; and because of my own lengthy fight with an eating disorder which emerged aged 12.”

“There was no intervention until I had graduated from university. According to Beat’s credible word “On average, 149 weeks pass before those experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help. That’s almost three years, 37 months or 1,043 days.”

“Forward on 36 years and my lethal companion still has a firm hold of me. Therefore, I am socking it to eating disorders to raise awareness, from lived experience, for the lack of appropriate, in fact any treatment available for adults.”

“Where on earth within the mental health care system does palliative care become the only option stated in black and white in a care plan for someone with an ED?”

“I will strive to change the reality for many like me in the UK – and carry on ‘knocking’ on doors in the media until someone offers to hear and share my story. I am firm in the belief now that one of my alters voices provides incredible insight (I live with a complex dissociative disorder, hence I consider the voice to be from one part of my self).”

“Despite the current state of my physical health this voice is one of reason and clarity. I sense I deep passion and drive to be a voice for others. It is because of a hellish experience stuck within the mental health system for tens of years that I firmly believe I have found my reason for having lived to date.”

“I have a story that not only deserves to be heard, but there may also well be a potential for rich information to be gleaned from it. Why else does a chronic history of trauma occur, if not to be disclosed for something worthy to be harvested.”

She continued: “I have been a part of Beat one way or another for approximately 25 years. In the early days Beat was known as the EDA (Eating Disorders Association) before the days of mass social media.”

“The EDA had a support worker who’d write to me for the many years. Jane – which was not her real name – was was the only companion willing to listen and understand the lengthy words I would pen down lengthy letters to her during every 365+ bleak, desperate day i.e. numerous lengthy admissions, sectioned.”

“Where I had zero insight or awareness as to why I had ended up like this, with the complex needs, considered untreatable back in the 90s.”

“I remember to this day how excruciatingly alone and at fault I felt, vulnerable also to whatever frightening treatment was believed necessary. Some forms were barbaric to say the very least.”

“At no time was I given the opportunity of any treatment other than that provided, ‘imprisoned’ within the walls of a general adult psychiatric unit. This provided no specialist help for a young adult suffering with an eating disorder. No one should have to face an eating disorder alone. And that is one of many reasons why Beat is there.”

“I have survived against many odds stacked against me. since the word go. That is no exaggeration, nor a theatrical verse to gain attraction or sympathy. This is purely fact. And therefore a firm passion and purpose I hold close to my heart is to speak out and do what I can.”

“At the end of the day we all need to sock it to eating disorders, it’s something that many can relate to as many people have difficulties with food and dieting. Research confirms that anorexia, due to the effects of weight loss and starvation on the body and brain, has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.”

“This insidious disease can not carry on to affect many of our younger generation. No one person can go down the same road as me. If this long piece has still got your attention, sorry this has gone on so long! thank you most sincerely for any support are able to afford.”

Ness adds: “I have been making jewellery for approximately two years. This has proved to be a mindful therapeutic hobby. This was branded ‘JackSpratt Jewellery’ after my Border Terrier. I re-homed Jack from Border Terrier Welfare UK in 2012 and therefore have sold items made locally in aid of this charity.”

“On this occasion, a percentage of at least 20% from pieces silver or gold plated made as a result of this Make-a-thon that are sold will be donated to Beat.”