Using colourful Pom-poms to remember Holly #TimetoTalk

Having five brothers and one sister means that I am lucky to have lots of glorious nieces and nephews, and, nowadays, great nieces and great nephews. I am a bit like “Great Uncle Bulgaria” in the Wombles.

But last July, we lost one of my nieces, Holly (pictured, right). Never mind me being her uncle, Holly’s passing has, of course, devastated her close family.

Today, on Time to Talk day, there is a chance that, by sharing Holly’s story, we may be able to raise awareness of mental illness and, hopefully, save someone’s life.

To tell the story, I will borrow the words of Holly’s surviving sister, one of my other nieces, Anna. Anna has come up with the inspiring idea of “Pombombing”* across the world to mark Holly’s forthcoming birthday of 13th February:

Holly Cowlam was caring, charismatic and vibrant. She was a psychology student and had studied modules in mental health. She was surrounded by loving family and friends who would have moved heaven and earth to help her had she asked. Perhaps she didn’t know how to ask. She was diagnosed with depression; a diagnosis that she said made her feel ashamed. A week later she chose to end her life.
Holly’s story is a reminder that mental illness can be experienced by anybody. It’s ok not to be ok. Don’t suffer in silence. Call the Samaritans on 116 123 for support.
On February 13th we are pombombing across the world to remember Holly and all the joy she brought us. Join us and spread mental health awareness by sharing a pombomb photo and tagging @hollyspombombs #hollyspombombs on Facebook and lnstagram.

*”Pombombing” means displaying woollen Pom-poms in a public area.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Feb '19 - 12:41pm

    @ Paul,
    What a terrible tragedy.

    Have you thought of promoting pom- pom making workshops before the actual day?

    Although sitting in a group making any craft, including something as simple as a pom-pom, which requires a bit of cardboard and some assorted left over wools, is enjoyable, the talk that takes place when people are involved in craft making groups can often open up conversations that can be helpful and supportive of individuals. And this might be particularly so when the focus is mental health and they are chatting to people of a similar age.

    The growth of mental health issues and the number of suicides amongst young people is a growing concern. The more that people, particularly this demographic are given opportunities to open up about their struggles with anxiety, low self esteem and depression , anything that helps them understand that they are not alone with these feelings and that they will not be judged for having them might possibly be helpful.

    My deepest sympathy to you and your understandably devastated family.

  • jane mansfield 7th Feb '19 - 9:37pm

    @ Paul,
    I hope that the initiative is a massive success and a fitting tribute to your niece.

    Social media can be harmful, but if used wisely it can be used for good purposes , such as getting the message out there and spreading it beyond one’s own limited circle or even one’s own country.

    I will spread the word to everyone I know, quite a number of them experienced yarn bombers, and see what we can stimulate locally to mark pompom bombing day when there are further details of what the family would think appropriate.

    Best wishes.

  • Paul, where do I send my Pom-Pom for Holly?

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