by Ben Fardon
Most of you know that whilst I founded Proud Lion alone in 2008, in recent years the shop has grown into a family business, with Rae joining me as we recently took the next step on the journey of a comic and gaming shop. This has - combined with hiring Maya as our first part-time member of staff - allowed us to do much more than I could ever do alone, including planning to open for 11 days straight in the run up to Christmas.
On Monday evening of this week our family was struck by an unexpected emergency as Rae was taken to A&E with severe waves of agony. At 2:30am Tuesday morning, she was taken for emergency abdominal surgery and Kiddo and I went home to try and grab some sleep.
Mercifully, the surgery went well and Rae is on the mend. Her family medical history meant that we were very scared of her having to be anaesthetised; thankfully there were no complications from that, but there was a chance we could have lost her.
After five days in hospital, we were allowed to bring her home where she continues her convalescence. I help her in the mornings and evenings, with friends kindly looking after her whilst I'm at work.
The reason I'm sharing this is to offer my apologies if we make mistakes this Christmas with your orders. I'm double-checking stuff where possible as I know I've been distracted. We ask for your understanding if there is a mistake - I pledge that I will rectify any error in your favour, so please report it if something is amiss.
Please understand I may need to change our opening times at short notice over the next few weeks (though I shall do my best to avoid that); apologies if there is any inconvenience.
We're exhausted and I think we're still processing the shock of it all. We had many plans both as a business and a family for this Christmas - plans that have had to be postponed but most will go ahead in the New Year. Notably, Rae still hasn't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens and she was so looking forward to it. We'll remedy that as soon as she's well enough.
We ask that rather than any Christmas cards this year, could you please donate £1 or whatever you can spare to the Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity. We'll be donating our next carrier bag proceeds here in January.
My thanks to everyone who has helped us stay on our feet during this past week, your support has been invaluable.
We are bloodied, but unbowed.
Ben is looking forward to four days holiday for the first time in a while. It's needed more than ever.