Laura Oakley

Laura Oakley

Laura brings you all the latest stories from the British Red Cross' work across the UK – from emergency response to health and social care – as well as West and Central Africa.

Posts by Laura Oakley:

New portrait marks six decades of support from Her Majesty

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II looks at a portrait of herself by Henry Ward

Photo credit: Press Association

Back in 2014, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sat for artist Henry Ward as he crafted a painting that would mark six decades of patronage to the British Red Cross.

Two years on, the result is the spectacular eight-foot portrait of the Queen pictured above, which she herself unveiled today at Windsor Castle before a select audience.

This is the first time the Queen has been depicted in a portrait as the patron of the Red Cross. Join us to peek into the archives and take a look at 60 years of support from the Queen.

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First aid for cyclists: From average Joe to sporting pro

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The Senior Academy programme with British Cycling have been brushing up on their first aid skills with the Red Cross. Cycling in Britain is at an all-time high. More than two million people across the country now cycle at least once a week.*

Perhaps we’ve all been inspired by Chris Froome adding a third yellow Tour de France jersey to his collection, or the Great Britain Cycling Team sweeping up 12 Olympic medals at Rio 2016?

Whatever the reason, it’s great that more and more people are sharing a love of cycling.

But new research conducted by the British Red Cross found that while 90 per cent of cyclists think sports people have a responsibility to look after each other, 40 per cent would not have the confidence to help a fellow cyclist in a first aid emergency.

Bumps, scrapes and falls come hand-in-hand with sporting activities – no matter what level you’re at. And we want to make sure people know what to do in a crisis. From average Joe to pro.

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How the Red Cross and a typewriter turned things around for Jean

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Jean holding up some of the stories she has typed on her typewriter.

You know that old saying, ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’? Well for 91-year-old Jean, that straw was a typewriter.

When Jean returned to her home in the Yorkshire Dales after a spell in hospital, she felt low and isolated.

So when her beloved typewriter broke too, an already difficult situation became a personal crisis.

“Everything seemed to go wrong for me,” Jean said.

Fortunately, our dedicated volunteers are skilled in all sorts of things – even fixing typewriters it seems.

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Students: Are you sure that’s freshers’ flu and not meningitis?

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A group of students are sat in a communal area of their accommodation. One of them is showing signs of meningitis.

The new academic term is a time for meeting fresh faces, getting to grips with new timetables… and freshers’ flu. But are you sure that’s what your flu-like symptoms are?

Students sometimes miss the signs of a much more serious illness known as meningitis because its symptoms are similar to that of freshers’ flu – the collective coughs, fevers and viruses caught during your first few weeks at university.

Meningitis is rare – but can be life threatening. Students are at more risk of it because they often live in close proximity to one another.

So if you’re heading to university this month, make sure you know the signs.

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Bridget Jones’ Baby: Top first aid tips for new parents

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Bridget Jones GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY The long awaited third-instalment of Bridget Jones is here – and this time Bridget’s having a baby.

While her most pressing concern is working out who’s the daddy (#definitelydarcy or #totallyjack?), Bridget will soon have plenty more to think about – keeping her baby safe from harm.

But don’t fear Bridget. The British Red Cross has it covered.

Here are our five top first aid tips for new parents – and Bridget.

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The health and social care crisis: Joyce’s story

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Joyce Hall with a Red Cross volunteer who helped her regain her independence after she broke her arm Joyce waited an agonising two days before going to hospital with a badly broken arm. She couldn’t just go to the hospital – she had her younger brother to think about.

As the sole carer for Lenny, who has epilepsy and learning difficulties, she was worried about leaving him alone. He was unable to do everyday tasks like getting dressed and feeding himself.

But after two days of pain she had little choice.

The British Red Cross met Joyce for the first time when she was discharged from the hospital and referred to our support at home service.

We were able to help her not just through her recovery, but find more support for her and Lenny from other services in the long-term too.

But with six consecutive years of budget cuts and an increasing demand on health and social care services, the system in England has become unsustainable. The care people like Joyce and Lenny need, is at risk.

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Great North Run: ‘I thought I may as well make myself useful’

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Anthony (left) with other Red Cross first aid volunteers at the Great North Run

Completing a half marathon would be a good enough excuse for most of us to put our feet up. But not for Anthony Higgins.

At the weekend he completed the 13.1 mile Great North Run – and then started a shift immediately afterwards offering first aid to other runners as a British Red Cross volunteer.

“When I got a place in the ballot for the race I thought I may as well make myself useful after the finish line,” the 28-year-old said.

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