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Pensioner pens a fundraising anthology in memory of her grandson

A Cumbrian grandmother has published a special anthology of poems and prose in memory of her grandson who took his own life nearly five years ago.

Ben Osborne, an assistant manager at Penrith and Appleby Leisure Centres, died aged 27 in 2014. Hundreds of people attended the well-loved young man’s funeral.

Now his grandmother, Hilary Binks - who moved to Penrith with her husband, Eric, shortly after Ben’s death - has published her Rainbow Anthology to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week and Dementia Action Week.

Funds from sales of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Society, for which Hilary is also a local volunteer.

Hilary, who lives in the town’s Pele Court retirement complex, explained: “When we moved here I was in a very dark place. I did not want to be social or help people in any way.

“But by Christmas I was already volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Society as both my mother and grandmother had had dementia. On New Year’s Day in 2016 I began to chat with a neighbour, Brenda Rack, who told me about her recent diagnosis of dementia.

“She was a pianist, artist and writer and was desperate to form a writer’s group. I helped set that up and it’s from that we now have the anthology.”

Sadly, Brenda died in January of this year but her family gave Hilary permission to use some of her written work from the Pele Court group within the anthology.

Part of the newly-published book draws on each colour of the rainbow. Members of the town’s memory café, who live with dementia, were asked for their associations with the different colours. Hilary then wrote prose or poetry pulling the memories together.

Hilary is also a dementia-friendly church enabler at St Andrew’s, Penrith, where both she and Eric attend. And she also helps lead the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain’ sessions held in the town’s Hub.

The former health visitor, nurse manager and counsellor added: “Throughout the book my Christianity is there for everyone to see. We have the quote from Genesis about the rainbow, that this is God’s promise. That is what it means to me.

“After Ben’s death we were very thankful for the fact that we were grounded in a Christian community. We had a very strong faith and that was not shaken at all.

“There were a number of Christians around us who were very sensitive to our needs at our previous church, St George’s in Kendal, but when we moved to Penrith and St Andrew’s people very quickly welcomed us and cared for us.”

“Although the colour went from our lives almost completely at the time of Ben’s death, this Rainbow Anthology has helped to reinstate it in a way. He is there in the dedication and he will be forever in our lives.”

The book has been edited by Ben’s sister, Rebecca, and includes an illustration by her of a sweet pea flower. Hilary recalled: “That was what Ben’s mum used to call him, even though he was six feet three inches tall!

“He was such a lovely, lovely young man and he has been our motivation for doing something with our lives and with this book.

“It’s only small anthology but it packs some really big messages: you’re never too old to find something new, recognise a talent and keep the colour in your life. Most important of all it shows that you can live well with dementia.”

Printing costs have been jointly met by the Dementia Action Alliance and Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, a dementia-friendly business and member of the Alliance.

Copies of the book – which is also dedicated to Brenda Rack and Hilary’s mother - will be sold around the town from May 20 and can also be bought at St Andrew’s Church café.

Alternatively they can be ordered at or via Facebook at A Rainbow Anthology Living Well in Colour. Copies can also be ordered by post, addressed to Hilary Binks, c/o Parish Office, Penrith Parish Centre, St Andrew’s Place, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7XX. Cheques made payable to Rainbow Anthology. Cost is £5 plus £1 postage



For more information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at

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