Sunday, 22 June 2014

Long Days, University Day, Tommy on Tour Day, a Double Dutch Day and those Woolly WMD

Yesterday was the longest day of the year, or as it is sometimes referred to – the Summer Solstice. The day marks the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It was celebrated here in the UK in many different ways, the most famous of these possibly being the gathering at Stonehenge where people celebrate the suns rising (yesterday it was at 04.43). There were precisely 17:01:10 hours of daylight yesterday. Seeing and being part of this annual spectacle is definitely one of the things on my 'bucket list'.

There were lots of other things to celebrate last week. My Social Work colleague Gabi Hesk won the inaugural Harold Riley Award for Community Engagement at our first University Day celebrations. Gabi’s work with refugee communities is inspiring and it was fabulous to see her leadership of a committed team justifiably acknowledged and rewarded.

Likewise 3 of my Nurse colleagues won the Vice Chancellors Distinguished Teaching Award for their work with Social Media. In a University that leads the way in its use of social media, Moira McLoughlin, Wendy Sinclair and Neil Withnell have shown the rest of the University what is possible. Congratulations to our prize winners, and all those that were short-listed but, who on this occasion, didn't win – all your contributions represent a great deal of creativity and commitment to enhancing our student’s experience.

Wednesday we had Tommy on Tour visit the School. Tommy Whitelaw had looked after his Mother Joan for 5 years. Joan had developed vascular dementia and Tommy became her willing carer. It was our students who campaigned to bring him to the School, and they were able to hear of Tommys continuing work in campaigning for better services for those living with dementia . It was good to see so many of our students making their pledges to making a difference. Tommy lives in my adopted country of Scotland, but if you want to see what is going on more locally look here.

Thursday I was at the University of Nottingham for a PhD viva. This experience was equally worth celebrating. The student's study was on the 'presentation of self' in graduate entry student nurses. She got through with flying colours, and it was a very enjoyable and very conversational viva examination. The student's study connected me with my colleague and friend Karen Holland whose work from 1999 was used as part the student’s context setting.

Today, I will be getting on a plane to meet with Karen Holland, coincidently in  Holland. I will be there for the Nurse Education Today, Nurse Education in Practice conference.This is the No 1 international nurse education conference to go too. I will be presenting a paper with Karen about our work around 'empowering nurses', and also a separate paper with Moira and Wendy on our work on 'relevant chatter' in social media. I'm very much looking forward to catching up with folks again.

What made me smile last week– well it has to be the story on Farming Today about the Black Faced Woolly Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This was the story of an experiment in Scotland of using sheep to clear ground of the invasive and deadly Hearacleum mantegazzianum (Giant Hogweed to  you and I).The sap of this plant causes phytophotdermatitis in people, resulting in painful blisters, and if it comes into contact with eyes, blindness. It has been recently discovered that the Black Face sheep can eat it with relish clearing acres of ground with complete impunity, and the hogweed doesn't grow back. Mother nature in balance - wonderful!