Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Thinking about 2014 one word, one common theme keeps popping into my head - extending. Yes, it's been a year of extending.

The first, and most obvious since our house was clearly visible from space once it got its hat on, was the material extension of our house, a long talked about plan reached fruition & although not yet finished we do have some beautiful new spaces; not to mention a splendid secret bookcase door, a gloriously decadent wet room and my very own dedicated  'craft' room.

                                                               Going under wraps

The big reveal, some months later.

Challengingly, at the same time as extending our physical space, I was endeavouring to extend myself academically. Writing M level assignments in the middle of winter in a house with no roof, walls or heating but an abundance of jocular tradesmen, all obviously born in a barn, was doubtless character building. Throughout the whole project Andrew continued his double life, reappearing every two weeks from Ireland. With the chaos and stress of assignments looming it was probably no bad thing that oftentimes it was just me and Bob the dog camping out in our building site. I loved the challenge of returning to study after nearly thirty years in practice but confess that the air was frequently a hazy shade of blue as I searched to find my academic 'voice' and multiples of 3000 different sensible words. Spurred on by colleagues, friends and family and the unwavering support of my Tutor I completed my PGC in Academic and Clinical Education and even got to wear a hat and gown to shake hands with Princess Anne at Graduation. As a practitioner I reflect daily on my work, as a clinical tutor I reflected a lot on the students performance and patient responses to treatment. Doing my PGC has given me the insight to reflect more readily and regularly on my effectiveness as a teacher, mentor and role model and hopefully strike a better balance between clinician and educator, which continues to be an exciting journey.

I'm sneaking Alix in here at number three, clearly our proudest 'extension' of all, taking our family into the next generation. We were delighted and immensely proud to see her graduate from the University of York and commence on her own academic extension by embarking on an MA in 19C Studies at King's College London. We are now a pair of bookends on the shelf and she is the Scarlet Pimpernel. My only sadness being I no longer have a ready excuse to potter off to York but that's more than outweighed by having her home, at least for the time being.

I was designated as a National Leader of Governance in 2014 and this, along with the continued success of  UkGovChat, has given me the opportunity to extend the reach of the support I have been able to offer Chairs and Governing Bodies. The experience has been hugely satisfying and rewarding and I'm sure I have got as much out of it as the people I have worked with.

The fifth and final extension, for which I have to thank the amazing A&E Doctors at our local hospital, was the continuation of life together with Andrew. Without them we would have come to a sudden and certain end in the early hours of an October morning when he suffered a cardiac arrest, from 'Meh' through 'I can't breath' to flatlining in moments. Thankfully, the stars were in alignment and we were in the right place at the right time. I will be happy if I never have to listen to a PAD monologuing 'There is no evidence of a pulse' ever again, never have to wake my daughter at four in the morning with the dreaded 'I don't want you to panic, but...' phone call and need no further reminders of just how fragile even an apparently hale and hearty life can be.

2014 threw all it had at me physically, mentally and emotionally and there's certainly no part of me that wants a repeat so 2015, bring it on. This year I plan to get the house finished, and dedicate some time to my poor neglected garden. Despite the angst it caused me, doing my PGCACE sparked a flame and there's another PGC, this time in Paediatric Osteopathy, that I am toying with but not until later in the year. House rules state that only one person can be doing  M level study at any one time and this is Alix's year. I will hold those I love a little closer and more dearly and be sure to make the most of our time together. Finally, I hope I can continue to make a difference for my patients, my students and my governor colleagues and do so with love, humour and respect.


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