Warwickshire tech and gaming companies team up with Warwick charity to help teenagers with cancer

Collaborating partners celebrate the creation of Olly
Collaborating partners celebrate the creation of Olly

Leading figures in Warwickshire’s technology and gaming industries have come together to create a new digital character to help teenagers diagnosed with cancer.

Representatives from the Institute of Coding, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, One HealthTech and games developers from Leamington Spa have brought their expertise together to make the figure in collaboration with Warwick based charity Molly Olly’s Wishes.

The character will develop the charity’s work in supporting young people through their cancer diagnoses and treatment by reaching an older teenage audience through an online platform.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was founded by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw in 2011 following the death of their daughter Molly to cancer at the age of eight.

The charity provides help in various ways, all aimed at making life more bearable for youngsters with cancer and other illnesses.

Assistance may be in the form of equipment, alternative therapy treatments to compliment traditional medicine or even organising a special occasion for a child who would otherwise be isolated from every day events due to the restrictions of their illness.

The tech experts have developed Olly, who features in the charity’s book series and is also a soft toy mascot with detachable hair, into an online character for teenagers suffering with the disease.

The Institute of Coding is a Government initiative bringing together a network of employers, universities, training providers and professional bodies to create the skills needed for the digital economy.

That expertise will help grow Olly alongside gaming designers, CWLEP’s digital connectivity arm and One HealtTech, who specialise in digital healthcare.

Louise Phipps, from the Institute of Coding at Coventry University, said she was delighted to be able to help the charity reach a new generation of patients.

She said: “The work that Molly Olly’s Wishes does is so important for young people coming to terms with life-threatening illnesses and provides a really important tool for them to understand and share their experiences with the Olly character.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw added: “This is a great opportunity for a small charity to develop with the help of experts who have very kindly donated their time to help us, for which we are so grateful.

"Alongside all the work we do with helping children understand their illness, we also fund a consultant in paediatric palliative medicine based at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and in the local community.

"Through all of these methods, we are able to help support children and teenagers as they live with life-threatening illnesses.”