Sunday, 29 December 2013

Last Words as 2013 changes into 2014

I'm on my Christmas holidays. Christmas Day was spent with family. Christmas dinner was a Cashew and Mushroom Layered Loaf (there was turkey for those that just had to have it). Then Boxing Day it was up to the House in Scotland. It was a nightmare journey; ice on the roads and that winter sunshine that is just too low in the sky as you drive. The further North I got the stronger the wind became and then the rain started to pour.

Driving down the hill that leads into the village I was surprised to see there wasn't a space to be had in the Village Hall car park, or a table at the Anchor Hotel bar. Despite the gale force winds and driving rain, the whole place was busy with families, groups of friends and there were dogs everywhere.  Someone had even parked their car in front of Mary’s cottage, strictly verboten in the unwritten but usually carefully adhered to village rules.

On the day after Boxing Day, Friday, there wasn't a soul to be seen. The road, beaches, woods and by ways were completely deserted. I twice walked Cello and didn't see a single person. The village had returned to its quietness and the simple twice daily movement of the tide coming in and the tide going out again. As 2013 draws to a close it’s a time for reflection, and for me this is a wonderful place to be, and to be able to sit and contemplate the passing year and to think about ambitions for the future.

However I know that others were finding themselves in very different places – much of the South of England has been battered by damaging storms, and many families still have no power or heat, a situation they have been in since Christmas Day. Here in Scotland, like in many other parts of the UK, over 2000 food parcels were handed out over the Christmas period, 1200 meals prepared for people in homeless shelters, and just under 200 people sought help over a 4 hour period at a winter destitution ‘surgery’ held by the Glasgow based charity, Positive Action in Housing last week. They wanted help with crisis payments, clothing, food and bus passes to get them through the Christmas period. As the Christmas snows fall in war torn Syria, an estimated 3.1 million children have little food or shelter, and more than 1 million children are now living in refugee camps. Oppression of peoples basic human rights continues in many parts of the world. I had an email from a colleague in China yesterday. She can read the VCs Blog, but not this one.The China Government have banned access to it!

Seeing or hearing of other peoples suffering often causes emotional pain and can give rise to empathy, an element of caring and compassion that is sometimes clouded by unconscious notions of guilt when there is nothing that we can seemingly do to help or relieve the suffering of others. 2014 will be my 7th year as Head of School. I once had a clear 10 year plan for the School which was about more effectively preparing nurses so they could better able to help others help themselves. Over the years this plan has been renewed and re-constructed as the School has grown and the challenges have changed. My Christmas contemplations will include how as a School we can continue to help others to more effectively help themselves. Many thanks to all of you have supported me by continuing to read this blog over the past year. I wish  you and yours the very best for 2014.