Sunflower idea is really blooming!

Rob O'Donnell with his wife Kate during last year's Sunflower Ball
Rob O'Donnell with his wife Kate during last year's Sunflower Ball

Lutterworth’s Rob O’Donnell believes a small idea can make a big difference.

And his latest idea fits this bill.

It is small; simply selling sunflower seeds in what the International Organisation for Ornamental Plants is calling The Year of the Sunflower.

However, it has the potential to make an amazing difference as every single penny of the money Rob earns from the sale of his sunflowers will be going to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a charity working to cure the lifelong challenges cystic fibrosis poses to its 10,000 UK sufferers.

Cystic fibrosis causes the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, to become clogged with thick, sticky mucus, resulting in chronic infections and inflammation of the lungs.

Rob is familiar with these challenges because in June 2013, he lost his younger sister Tammy to cystic fibrosis.

Like half of cystic fibrosis sufferers, Tammy, of Nuneaton, never made it to aged 40 – she died aged just 35.

“The sunflower was Tammy’s favourite flower, which is why I want to sell the seeds from these beautiful flowers,” explained Rob.

He has now set up his own Facebook page – Grow Sunflowers for CF in 2015 – which started selling sunflower seed packets on Saturday.

And his campaign has now launched a challenge to see which person or school can grow the largest sunflower this year.

The appeal started last year when Rob organised the Sunflower Ball in Hinckley which raised an impressive £16,606 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in Tammy’s memory.

Everyone who attended the ball received a packet of sunflower seeds, but there is no limit to how many can participate this year.

Anyone can get involved by buying seeds from Rob’s Facebook page, posting pictures of their blooming flowers, or by texting SUNF80 £1 to 70070 to make a £1 donation.

Money raised will help fund research to develop better treatments for cystic fibrosis.

And Rob’s idea has also got the seal of approval from Leicester Tigers’ rugby players and they recently posed for a picture holding up one of his sunflower banners.