Tinsley Meadows Primary Academy

We heard about The Big Sunflower Project early in 2018 and were delighted when our application for seeds and to take part in the project was successful.

Pupils at Tinsley Meadows with their sunflower seeds.

We were excited to receive the seeds and couldn’t wait to get planting.

Planting sunflowers at Tinsley Meadows.

We each planted our own sunflower and enjoyed observing and caring for them at school.

Caring for sunflowers at Tinsley Meadows.

When our sunflowers had grown a little taller, we took them home.

Sunflowers at Tinsley Meadows.

We enjoyed drawing and writing about them at home with our grown-ups. We also painted sunflower pictures and talked about how seeds grow.

Painting sunflowers at Tinsley Meadows.

Logan enthusiastically cared for his sunflower at home. He shared lots of photographs of him looking after his sunflower as it grew taller.

Logan with sunflowers.

We can’t wait to take part in the 2019 Big Sunflower Project this year and are looking forward to growing sunflowers and raising awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy once again.

The Big Sunflower Project 2019

Seed distribution for The Big Sunflower Project will begin again in early 2019. Seeds for the 2019 project have been obtained from Kings Seeds at a large discounted price, with money donated to the project in 2018. Seeds have also been donated by Katrin Wurmitsch-Hohenwarter and her friends and family in Austria, who grew sunflowers during the 2018 project.

The Big Sunflower Project is an initiative of The Information Point for Centronuclear and Myotubular Myopathy which aims to provide information about and raise awareness of these rare neuromuscular conditions. The project raises awareness by sending sunflower seeds to people who have never heard of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy and by sharing participants photos online.

Sunflower seeds from Kings seeds.

300 packets of seeds containing 50 seeds will be distributed in 2019 – one packet of seeds per applicant. Project seeds are sent free of charge to participants but anyone wanting to make a donation for their seeds can do so via this website. Donations are ploughed back into the project – they enable the project to send more seeds to more people and help ensure the future of the project.

Anyone is welcome to apply for seeds but priority is given to families affected by centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, community groups and good causes. Previously, seeds have been donated to schools and nurseries, community groups, groups who work with disadvantaged people, hospices and youth groups to name a few, so as well as raising awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, the project supports the activities of these groups too.

Marius and sunflowers.

Please note, The Big Sunflower Project is not associated with any freebie websites. Please do not share information about the project with these organisations. The project does not have the capacity to deal with the number of requests generated by being advertised on these websites and if featured, it will force seed distribution to stop.

Photos submitted to the project are shared here on the project social media pages and also in The Information Point newsletter Our World. Photos are also sometimes used in applications for grants and funding, without which the project could not continue.

It is only possible to send seeds to the UK and Europe but the project wholeheartedly welcomes participation from anyone who wants to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy by growing a sunflower and people who buy their own seeds are welcome to join in (if you would like to do this, please get in touch advising where you will be growing your sunflowers, so you can be included on the project map).

The Big Sunflower Project logo.

A year in the life: 19 December 2018

Earlier this year, I decided to write about my sunflower growing year. It could have been a very dull series of posts but the UK had a fabulous hot summer, my sunflowers grew amazingly well, there was much to write about and many photos to share … I love it when a plan comes together.

To end my ‘year in the life’ posts I thought I would write a short review of the year and highlight a few of my favourite things from 2018 (soon you won’t be able to get away from reviews of the year, so I’m getting mine in first). If you haven’t seen it already, please also take a look at the project end of year report.

2018 was the eighth year of the project. The seeds that were sent to participants were purchased from Thompson and Morgan, at a large discounted price, with money donated to the project in 2017. Seed donations were also received from Mark Davies Seeds, Just Seed, The Real Seed Collection and L G Seeds.  Support such as this is crucial to the survival of the project and I really cannot say thank you enough to everyone for their generosity, which has enabled the project to continue as long as it has.

The aim of The Big Sunflower Project is to raise awareness of the rare neuromuscular conditions known as centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, so I was over the moon to have people once again growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and passed away in 2016.  You can read more about Emil here on the project website.

Emil's birthday invite.

This year the project also welcomed the family and friends of Marius in Austria. An email arrived in early April requesting seeds, explaining that Marius was born in August 2017 and diagnosed with myotubular myopathy. The family wanted to grow sunflowers in the hope that Marius would see them when he  hopefully came home from hospital.

Marius and sunflowers.

Seeds from Austria.

They went on to grow sunflowers, take photos and save their sunflower seeds, which will now be distributed to participants in The Big Sunflower Project 2019. You can view photos of the sunflowers that were grown in Austria on the project Flickr page.

This year the NeuroMuscular Centre in Cheshire also participated and were enthusiastic supporters on social media. Based in Cheshire, the charity supports people across the UK and sometimes further afield, providing physiotherapy, training and employment to people with muscular dystrophy. I was delighted to have them take part and to be able to share their story on the project website.

Sunflower

In July, I attended the Myotubular Trust and Zusammen Stark! family conference in London for people affected by centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. You can read about the conference below.

It was amazing to hear about the incredible advances in research into centronuclear and myotubular myopathy but also really quite lovely to walk into the venue and see balloon sunflowers everywhere. Thank you Myotubular Trust and Zusammen Stark! it was a truly thoughtful thing to do and my little heart wanted to burst at the sight of them.

Balloon sunflower

Balloon sunflowers

Balloon sunflowers.

Finally, this year, I was so happy to have my old school, Oldfield Primary School in Chester, take part in the project.  The school is just a hop, skip and a jump from my childhood home. It is also where I went as a brownie and girl guide and this year my old guide leader, now a Governor at another primary school in Cheshire, also participated in the project with her school. It was particularly special to have both schools involved and to see how well their sunflowers grew.

Sunflower grown by pupil at Oldfield primary school.
Sunflowers grown at Westminster Primary School, Ellesmere Port.

So, just a few of my favourite things from The Big Sunflower Project 2018 but thank you to everyone who took part in the project this year.

Seed distribution for the 2019 project will begin in early 2019 and I look forward to growing sunflowers again with anyone who wants to join me then.

Neuromuscular Centre

The Neuromuscular Centre is the Centre of Excellence for people with neuromuscular conditions. Based in Cheshire the charity supports people across the UK and sometimes further afield, providing physiotherapy, training and employment.  Below Alison Evans from the centre writes about their involvement in The Big Sunflower Project during 2018.

Sunflower

Sunflower fever swept across the NeuroMuscular Centre (NMC) this summer! We have loved having the bright, showy blooms livening up our grounds (and some of our homes too) but, perhaps more importantly, we have greatly enjoyed working with our friends at The Information Point.

Numerous members of staff took on the challenge to grow sunflowers to help raise awareness for centronuclear myopathy and myotubular myopathy. We took over spaces in the NMC garden, the car park, the meadow, the greenhouse and even our Sales Manager’s bedroom, to cultivate our plants and turn our vista sunshine yellow.

Sunflower

As a centre of excellence for people with neuromuscular conditions, we were eager to help The Information Point raise awareness. Like Toni, we believe in the power of community. Everyone can flourish given the correct support and guidance and we think that the sunflowers are a fabulous metaphor for this.

At the NMC, we offer physiotherapy, support, training and employment to people with muscular dystrophy. We believe that peer to peer support is a key part of everyone’s wellbeing and that raising awareness of all neuromuscular conditions is an important baseline.

NMC Design+Print is a graphic design and printing company at the heart of the NMC; predominantly staffed, and managed by, people with MD. We provide a friendly, professional and creative service with a healthy serving of social value! The profits we make go toward the running costs of the NMC, so by working with us you also support the charity.

Sunflower

Together, we want to inspire young people with disabilities, and to encourage our community to be bold and strive for their dreams. We do this by offering graphic design training, numerous creative workshops, work placements and employment opportunities to people with MD, to help them launch themselves into a career in the creative industry or charity sector.

Partnering with The Information Point has allowed us to pool our audiences across a variety of social media platforms to reach a greater number of people affected by the conditions. It has also helped us to improve our gardening skills, learn more about centronuclear and myotubular myopathies (and as a bonus, we learnt the correct spellings!).

Winter is now drawing in but the project isn’t over yet! Many of us are drying our sunflowers to save the seeds for next year.

 

To learn more about the work of the Neuromuscular Centre and NMC Design and Print, take a look at the short film above and visit the websites below.

Neuromuscular Centre  | NMC Design and Print

The Big Sunflower Project 2018 (end of year report)

2018 was the eighth year of The Big Sunflower Project. Seeds were sent to places across the UK and people also took part in Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Croatia, the USA, New Zealand and Costa Rica. For the second time the project was also joined by many people growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and sadly passed away in 2016. 

Sunflower growing season is now over in the UK but if you have sunflowers waiting to bloom, you can still share your photos. And if you are in a part of the world about to get its summer, please consider buying a packet of seeds and growing a sunflower to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, it would be lovely to continue receiving sunflower photos over the winter months.

Sunflowers

The Big Sunflower Project is only possible because of the kindness of the organisations who support our work with donations, discounts and funding. Sunflower seeds for The Big Sunflower Project 2018 were provided by the following organisations

Growing sunflowers in Shetland.

Grassroots Giving

The aim of The Big Sunflower Project is to raise awareness of the rare neuromuscular conditions known as centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. The project raises awareness by sending seeds to people who have never heard of the conditions and requesting photos and stories in return, which are posted online, again raising awareness of the conditions.

The Big Sunflower Project recently took part in the Skipton Building Society Grassroots Giving initiative to try and win funds to help with our work. Over 740 applications were received from community groups, clubs and organisations across the UK and we were over the moon to be shortlisted to be one of the groups to win £500.

In order to fairly allocate the 165 pots of money that were up for grabs, the Skipton Building Society asked the public to say who they wanted to receive the funding. 50,000 votes were cast for the shortlisted groups and sadly we did not win. However, if you voted, thank you very much.

The Big Sunflower Project is a non profit group run on a voluntary basis, so funding such as this is crucial to what we do. However we will continue to seek out funding opportunities over the coming months.

Watering sunflowers.

Project map

This year 324 places were plotted on the project map which can be seen below – click a sunflower to learn more about the people growing sunflowers in that location.

​Photos

Over 800 photos were received from 114 participants this year. Photos from the 2018 project can be found below.

Sunflower

Stories

The project website now has a large collection of stories from past participants – if you would like to share your story too, please get in touch.

Sunflower

Make a donation

There is no charge for project seeds or the cost of postage, the project does however, welcome donations to ensure the future of the project and to enable seeds to be sent to as many people as possible each year. If you have donated for your seeds, thank you – if you like to donate you can learn more about how to do this below.

Sunflower

Harvesting sunflower seeds

Don’t forget that if you have grown a sunflower this year you can save the seeds for growing next year or you can donate these to the project for others to grow.  You can learn how to harvest sunflower seeds below.

Sunflower

Further information

Further information about the project can be found on here on the project website and on the project social media pages.

Linda

Linda lives in Hereford and has been growing sunflowers with The Big Sunflower Project since 2016.

This has been my third year  growing sunflowers for The Big Sunflower Project. My daughter  Georgina was born 30 years ago with centronuclear/myotubular myopathy, so taking part and raising awareness is something that is very close to our family.

Last year I saved the seeds as I was so impressed with the flowers and this year I started early hoping to have flowers for longer but the first batch of very healthy plants I put out were over night eaten completely by slugs.

So, very disappointed I stared again thinking I was going to be to late but to my surprise and considering it was such a hot summer, the sunflowers have been wonderful and are still flowering in November. I have been surprised that the large flowers, once they had finished flowering and were removed to save for next year (but not removing the stems), are still flowering too.

I think I started with four different types of sunflowers, so in the sales I have bought more seeds. Never knew there were so many different types of sunflowers, so I am looking forward to taking part in The Big  Sunflower Project 2019 and growing as many types as I can.

Sunflower grown by Linda.

Mike

Mike has taken part in The Big Sunflower Project since 2016 and supported the project on his blog Flighty’s plot, where he mostly writes about his allotment.

In 2016 he wrote about the different varieties of sunflowers he grew – Mongolian Giants, Valentine and Musicbox.

In 2017 Mike told The Big Sunflower Project:

I don’t have a garden just a half-plot allotment, which is only a few minutes walk away from home, where I grow soft fruit, vegetables and lots of flowers including sunflowers.

One of the varieties I have grown was the knee-high Musicbox which did really well so I’ll be growing it again. As I don’t have a greenhouse I sowed the seeds in small pots on the windowsill at home. When I planted them out on the plot I sprinkled some organic slug pellets around them. The plants produced numerous colourful flowers over a long period and didn’t need staking.

mike

It’s said that sunflowers bring out the happy child in everyone. They certainly do with me, which is why I grow them as one of my favourite flowers and I’m happy to support this good cause, which includes linking to this website on my blog.

Mike took part in The Big Sunflower Project again in 2018 and said:

As much as I would like to grow impressively tall sunflowers my allotment is in the middle of a rather exposed site where wind damage to taller plants can occur, even when they’re staked and tied.

The past couple of years I’ve grown the knee-high sunflowers Music Box, which only grow to around 30″/75 cm and generally do well.  If you’re hoping to take part and only grow in containers then these are an ideal variety. They have numerous flowers in various colours – usually yellow, some bi-coloured red/yellow and occasionally lemon – all with dark centres.

Musicbox sunflowers

I grow them in an area I call sunflower corner where they flower from early July well into autumn. As with all the flowers that I grow they are attractive to bees and butterflies. I save some seed heads and leave others for the birds or to self-seed. This year I’ve saved a lot of these seeds to donate to Toni to send to participants in The Big Sunflower Project 2019.