When the refugee crisis made headlines, lots of people wanted to help, or said they wanted to help, or were going to help, or were going to donate money or clothes to someone who was going to help.

For most of us, that was where it ended, but not for Alice. 

Alice I hear you cry, Alice? Who the beep is Alice?

Well I’ll tell you. Alice River-Cripps, a local jewellery designer from Posh Totty who gave her own money, time, and personal safety to travel to Kosovo and help the women putting their lives back together after a savage war tore them apart.

A family friend of ours served in many theatres of war but is haunted by the atrocities he witnessed in the Balkans.

The rules of war were no longer applied in Kosovo. The abuses of human rights were on a scale not seen since the Second World War. I’m talking ethnic cleansing, torture, rape, entire villages torched to the ground.

Alice contacted Women for Women International and offered to design a limited necklace that would raise funds for women. In return, they offered her the chance to meet the women she would

be helping. She spent her time in Kosovo teaching them how to make jewellery and sharing her business skills.

In return the women shared their stories.

Violetta gave birth to her first child hidden in a bunker during the war among the smell of death and the sound of bombs. She walked with her newborn son to freedom, as a refugee.

Death was inevitable if they stayed. 

Violetta should have been in hospital, but there were none. Instead she walked for five days injured from the birth, her naked, unwashed baby in her arms, trying to reach safety in Macedonia.”

Kimete tried three times to get out of the city, but every time her and her young family were sent back. She described the fear, frustration and despair of returning to the war torn city. Kimete opened up her tiny home to seventeen families with whom she shared her food, bed and clothes with.

One day her flat was raided by the Serbian police who were looking for her. She realised that there was no hope left, bombs were being dropped on the city and she had to save her children.

Kimete heard about a last bus leaving for the border. She begged to be let on, offering money, jewellery, even her house, but was not permitted. As she began to walk away with her young children she noticed one of the back windows of the bus was open, so she pushed her babies through it, thinking at least they might have a chance for survival.

I have children the same age as Kimete’s were when she pushed them through the open window of that bus. 

Mothers, can you imagine? We might as well have ripped our own hearts out of our chests and shoved them through the window alongside them.

Much like a flower must grow through dirt, these heroic women have flocked together to look after one another and rise from the ashes of their old lives.

I cannot begin to imagine what strength and suffering it must take. When I think of these women I feel ashamed for ever thinking I had problems.

And no, buying a £49 necklace is not going to change the world. It’s not me flying over to Kosovo and teaching them vital skills, but it is something, and sharing Alice’s story is something too.  

She’s an inspiration and her 'Share a Hug' necklace will be on my Christmas list.

The Argus: Brighton Palace Pier

SO Brighton Pier has been rated the second worst place to go for healthy food, (despite being part of Jamie Oliver’s healthy eating campaign).

Who goes on the Pier for healthy food? You don’t see gangs of hens and stags queuing up for a green smoothie and a falafel, or small children asking for a cone of hummus with celery instead of a flake, do you?

People go on the Pier to eat fish and chips, candy-floss, giant dummy-shaped lollies and sugar coated doughnuts, most of which get regurgitated after the Waltzer and then eaten by the Seagulls.

Being upset you could not get a tofu wrap on the Pier is like being cross the sea is wet.

The only place ranked worse than the Pier is The Natural History Museum. Another place not frequented for people looking for a slap up meal. People visit the NHM to eat culture, not cottage cheese and pineapple.

Maybe to keep Jamie Oliver happy they should become the Natural Modern Museum instead and only serve ‘clean’ food, the latest eating fad causing a new type of anorexia called Orthorexia Nervosa.