Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Save5 - an inspirational campaign to make a difference and save lives

This blog posting is unashamedly not about our French Gite, but about something much more important, about saving lives.

Here's a simple question for you; if you were seriously ill or dying and needed an organ transplant to save your life, then would you accept a transplant if one was offered to you?

What if the same situation occurred with a close family member, your parent, your wife or husband?

I'm sure most people would say that they'd accept the transplant for the chance to live a little longer.

The reason I ask is all because of the Save5 campaign to give everyone the chance to save 5 lives - despite 97% of the population saying they'd accept a transplant if they needed it, only 28% are currently on the organ donor register; this is a massive imbalance and Save5 is trying to change this situation.

Let me explain more.   Just before we went on holiday to France I was at my Rotary club meeting and the speaker that evening was 'T' Sandeman-Charles who told us her own personal inspirational story and how she has created the "Save 5 campaign".

T's story is quite amazing, from simple beginnings of becoming a legal secretary straight out of school, she then worked then for Thames TV and progressed her career up to working on some of the major shows of the 80's and 90's, and then she went on to form her own business selling Pampered Chef cookware, and over 7 years grew to a multi-million pound team turnover; and then last year she gave up the business and walked away, taking nothing out of it.

The reason for this dramatic about-turn is that T found out she was diagnosed with not one but two incurable lung diseases and one of them (idiopathic pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis) is so rare that only 7 other people in the world have been diagnosed with it. These diseases will eventually mean that the lungs will find it harder and harder to breath until she either lucky enough to receive a lung transplant, or she will die.

T decided not to dwell on her illness but instead to focus her considerable energies on making a positive difference and she set herself the goal of getting 10,000 more people to join the organ donor register before she dies.

Nobody wants to talk about dying but the amazing thing is that your kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and the small bowel can all be transplanted - literally saving the lives of 5 people. Tissue such as skin, bone, tendons, cartilage, heart valves and corneas can also be donated to help others such as in reconstructive surgery after an accident, heart valves can help children born with heart defects, skin grafts can help burn victims, and corneas can restore the sight of people that have suffered eye injury or disease.

Unfortunately many people put off joining the organ donor register, or if they have registered they don't keep their address details up to date when they move, and of course some people die in a way that means that their organs can't be used, so T's campaign to encourage 10,000 more people to join the register was I thought a fantastic personal mission that could literally change the lives of thousands and thousands of people.

For more details of T's life-changing campaign see her Save 5 website and please please do join up. It costs nothing but could make a real difference to someone else.

PS: Long standing readers of the Blog may remember my own personal account of my Mum dying from a massive stroke in May 2005. We gave our consent for her body to be used for organ donation and I think her corneas, liver, kidneys and heart were all used successfully to help other people. The people at the hospital and the transplant coordinator were very good and afterwards we were touched to receive letters from the families of those we had helped.

PPS: As at today T's Save5 campaign has resulted in an extra 2,748 people joining the organ donor register. Please do pass on details of the campaign and help to reach the 10,000 target.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

French Heating Oil Prices

Oil tanker delivering to our Gite in Brittany

For both our Brittany Holiday Home and the house we live in in Bedfordshire, UK, we have an oil boiler for the central heating and hot water. The French system is slightly different in that it has a flash (on demand) boiler that switches on to heat up the water when you open a tap whereas the UK system is a conventional hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard, but other than that they're pretty similar.

And the heating oil which is 28 sec Kerosene is the same.

But what is really different is the price we pay for our heating oil in the two countries.

Just before I left for France I decided to order 1500 litres of heating oil for the UK as I wanted to buy before the prices started rising in the autumn and winter, so the day before I left I phoned around, got the best price I could and asked for the oil to be delivered whilst we were away in France.

When we were over in France one of the first things I did was to phone up a local supplier and ask him to deliver 1000 litres of heating oil for the holiday home as we were getting down to the last 300 litres or so and so it was time to refill the tank. The French tanker driver arrived on the Tuesday, quite by coincidence the same day that the UK delivery took place.

In the UK we paid 54.95 pence per litre - which is incidentally the highest price I have ever had to pay for heating oil in England, but economic conditions, prices of a barrel of oil, uncertainties in the Middle East, etc all conspired to make this the price it was.

So after 5% VAT the bill came to £865.46 for 1500 litres.

In France I'm not sure whether there is any TVA tax charged or not, I'm only ever quoted a single price per litre, and I paid 88.6 cents a litre, making the total bill for €886.00 for 1000 litres, or roughly £782.

So for only 10% more money I got 50% more heating oil in the UK. This works out that French heating oil is a wopping 36% more expensive than back at home.


Fortunately we don't use anywhere near as much oil in France as we do in the UK and we only have to fill the tank every couple of years or so rather than once maybe twice a year in the UK depending on how cold the winter is, but the price differential is really noticeable when you see comparative numbers like this.