In Good Faith!

When Jimmy was 9 months old he started to hold his breath to the point of going blue if he fell over and hurt himself. The first time this happened he was eating a piece of bread and having never experienced his breath holding before I assumed he was choking on the bread rather than having a demonstration at having hurt himself. I blew on his face but he didn’t breath and my Mum called an ambulance as I turned him over and patted him hard on his back to dislodge the bread which I thought might be in his airway. Thankfully, as my Mum got through to the emergency services he started to breathe and all was good again. The ambulance man came anyway and checked him over but by that time he was back to being happy and playing. I’d had a shock for sure but no bad had come from it.

I still didn’t know at that point that he probably hadn’t been choking but as time went on and he would hold his breath every time he had a bump or a fall we suspected the fact he was eating bread that first time was coincidental. Still, I was pleased I had been on a first aid course with the British Red Cross and had known what to do just in case. I wrote about it all on my blog and the Red Cross picked up the story. They asked me if they could use it as a case study for their website to encourage people to join courses who might be in a similar position. I liked the Red Cross, they seemed like a good cause and I had gained knowledge from them which although I hope never to have to use, at least if it was in the bank I might just remember something if I needed to and do the right thing. It seemed harmless for them to use my story for what they said would only be used on their website and in good faith I agreed.

They told me I would have full editorial control, they would take most of it from my blog which I had written and asked me for a picture. Their writer tweaked it and when they sent it to me it did seem a little stretched and more dramatic. I voiced this concern as I told them I really thought there was a chance he hadn’t actually been choking at all but they assured me that if he had of been I did the right thing and that was what they wanted to get across. I checked the story and agreed for them to use it on their site. They did. Fine. End of story or so I thought.

Then they asked me if I would go to The Baby Show with them and talk about it on the stage. I agreed and at my own personal cost, travelled to and from the show to give them my time (which with travel ended up being all day) because again I trusted they were doing it all for the right reasons and I saw the benefit. However…

18 months later to now and a friend emailed me this:

My friend emailed me this to say she thought she recognised the picture and had felt quite emotional reading ‘my story’.

Somehow (not my story and not the story written about me by the Red Cross) a version of the story is in Mother and Baby magazine this month. A national magazine with my picture in it and with words written that are meant to be read as if I have said them but all put down in a far more dramatic way than an episode of Casualty?

Lots of the new version of the story is made up. It is MASSIVELY fabricated and written with what seems to be a desire to evoke drama. ‘The day her world turned upside down’ is one of the lines I can’t get out of my head? What now? My son hurt himself and held his breath, was possibly choking but in a split second wasn’t and by the time the ambulance arrived he was playing and happy. Now I don’t know about you but that is certainly not something I would ever describe as my world turning upside down?

I never gave my permission for this story to be published in a magazine under any guise but absolutely not this particular one which is written for drama and not fact. Ok, so it wasn’t interesting the way it was but there’s a simple answer to that one, don’t publish it. Publish something else. At the end of the day, if you’re going to make it all up anyway then why not make it up entirely and not try and pretend it happened to ME. Furthermore, don’t you DARE use my photograph as if to prove it all!

I am beyond angry with the Red Cross who told me it was only for their website. Back then they gave me editorial control and told me they would tell me when it was going to be used (and they did at the time) yet for this they didn’t even bother to let me know, let alone warn me it was going in a national monthly. As for Mother and Baby, another organisation I would have said I trusted? Well I am fuming. I made videos with them for their M&B TV when Florence was tiny, I have invited them into my home and given them my time, I absolutely would have trusted them but it seems I was wrong to do so on both counts. When I spoke to The Red Cross back then, who neither paid me for the story or had me sign any sort of waiver, I was unguarded thinking they were not press. How wrong I was!

Today both organisations (when they finally got back to me) have very guardedly said they are ‘looking into matters’ and will get back to me but you know what? I don’t see what there is to look into? I gave this story to the British Red Cross for them to use as a case study on their website (and their website only) in good faith and they in turn have slapped me in the face and assumed it was ok to make up lies about me and put them in a national magazine. Well it’s not. Not at all! I thought their courses were worthwhile and they were doing a good job but for my money now and after this incident I wouldn’t trust them with a barge pole. If I ever go on a first aid course again it most definitely will not be with them, I’ve heard St John’s do something similar and as they haven’t sold me up the river that’s where I’ll look. With regards to M&B, knowing that they can fabricate (The British Red Cross today told me the story was rewritten WITH M&B) little things like this then I’m not sure I could trust anything I read from them again. What a shame!

This article makes me at best look like a hypochondriac and at worst a down right liar. Neither of which I am. I want it to be known that I did not give my permission for this story or my photograph to be published, it is factually incorrect and highly exaggerated. It also has grave grammatical errors which again are nothing to do with me and can only, I assume, be blamed on the journalistic standards at Mother and Baby magazine?!

8 thoughts on “In Good Faith!

  1. I’m really sorry this has happened Ruth and agree you should have been asked and not misquoted. I am relieved to hear it’s an exaggeration of the truth and that in fact Jimmy was not choking…..thank goodness! I hope both parties do come back with an apology and explaination xx

  2. Oh gosh thats pretty bad they’ve used it all without permission and then changed a lot of it to read more dramatically. Its also really irresponsible of them to be doing this – other women could be reading it and using it as an example in the future. Hope they apologise x

  3. I’m not surprised you’re annoyed, that’s outrageous! I hope you get an apology and they learn from this.

  4. This is horrible, after you let them use your story to have it twisted and over-dramatised so much must be awful for you. Hopefully you can get them to give you some sort of compensation and a printed retraction, at the very least.

  5. Oh my gosh, that is awful! I hope you get a proper apology from both parties involved. I’m really shocked they didn’t approach you first. I’m glad you’ve called them on it – keep at it. X

  6. Irresponsible journalism on the part of Mother & Baby, and shocking betrayal by the Red Cross. I hope they admit their faults and offer compensation.

  7. Hi, if I can give the other side having worked in charity marketing for 6 years. I can understand your frustration and anger and although the way it’s been done isn’t ideal for the charity the aim of this piece was probably to promote their first aid courses. It’s incredibly hard to get case studies, as you said above you didn’t contact them they contacted you even though you’d found the course to be beneficial and reassuring at that time. It seems the issue began at the start with you not signing anything to do with the case study. I can understand your frustration with how things have turned out now but I do think that what is probably the actions of one or two people in the comms department – that were no doubt acting in the interests of the charity – is no reason to not trust the organisation as a whole. I think the main thing to take away is that your son is healthy and well and maybe, due to this article and your case study on the site, other children are as well due to their parents attending a course.

    1. The thing is, although I was happy to share my story for the website of the charity I would never have agreed to have it in a national magazine. Please also remember that the story the magazine has published, with my picture and that of my son’s is also absolute fiction and bears no resemblance to what actually happened so I fail to see how ‘my story’ could have been of any benefit over any other made up one. Firstly they should have asked me for my permission and stuck to the agreed full editorial control they offered when I agreed to have it on the charity website and secondly they should never have lied when they ID go ahead and publish without permission. Frankly at this stage the fact it is a charity makes no difference to me because they have lied to me for their own end. I will be seeking advices on this one.

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