Sunday, 3 January 2016

A slight look back at 2015 - the 2016 New Year Blog

Last year felt as if it flew past. As the blog title suggests, and with apologies to Oasis, ‘as my year slides away, don’t look back in anger, you’ll hear me say’ - I thought it was a great year. In 2015, both W and I reached the grand old age of 60. Over the last 12 months we have enjoyed a whole range of 60th birthday celebration parties, starting with a huge outdoor one last May. That party had taken a year to plan and the only thing that wasn't perfect was the weather, which right at the last moment decided to turn chilly and windy. 

Two other members of the family were having significant birthdays during 2015 – Emma who was 40 and Glenda who was 70, chose to celebrate with us in May. Our eldest daughter Jennifer (who was also 40 in 2015, but who chose to keep this fact to herself), had a small family celebration last week. Over a 100 people came to the May birthday party and we had smaller events for other friends up here in Scotland. If anyone wants a barely used Garden Marquee (in black, with church arch windows) just let me know – I have one and I don’t expect to use it again. 

Other things I didn't expect to do was to travel so often to Abu Dhabi last year. But due to the project we have out there I found myself flying out there once a month for the Board meeting. I did get to visit the splendour and quiet sacredness of the Grand Mosque, a truly awe inspiring experience. At the other end of the spectrum, I also spent a week in Uganda, visiting our students on clinical placements out there. I found it very challenging to witness the often abject and endemic poverty that appear to characterise so many people’s lives. However, there was examples of resilience to be seen and the students and I were privileged to meet some of the most creative and innovative people I had come across in while.

One of the other places I also visited last year was Slovakia. I went there to celebrate the life of my long term friend and colleague Alzbeta, who had died in 2012. It was a poignant ceremony, but one I was very pleased to be asked to be part of. Later on in the year, and for the first time in 8 years, I returned to Australia to take part in the International Mental Health Nursing conference. It’s a conference that holds great significance for me, both in terms of my professional development and achievements and for personal reasons.

The last time I had been there was immediately after my brother Christopher had died in 2007. Although his death was sudden and not expected, he had struggled with poor health for a large number of years. Sadly there were others in my life who had also struggled with life shortening conditions. My thoughts are with the families of Irene, Alex, Maureen, Pauline, Fraser, and Kevin, all of whom died during 2015. At the last funeral, Kevin’s, just before Christmas we were asked not to wear black – which for those of you who know me, this was a slight challenge. Anyway my wardrobe now contains a yellow number.

And like the average Ambridge year (a show which celebrated its 65th anniversary on the 1st Jan 2016), as well as deaths and illness there were plenty of good things to note as well. Our 9 grandchildren all continue to flourish; the long running saga of my parents missing sofas was resolved; I won the 2015 village boules championship; got to watch the Osprey chicks hatch, get reared by the most attentive parent birds and saw them eventually fly the nest. I was invited to take part in a ‘thought leadership’ group aimed at making a difference to nurse education, and I finally managed to buy a strimmer whose cutting cord doesn't break when you hit a stone.  

The School continues to be the best performing School in the University. My thanks go to all my wonderful colleagues who put so much of themselves into ensuring the Schools success in so many areas of its work. It makes my job one of the best in the world and one I feel privileged to undertake. I took a 10 day break for Christmas 2015. And now the holiday has been gone and I feel ready for the challenges the new year will bring, This is the first blog of 2016, and I wish all my blog readers the very best for the year to come- and thanks for all your support over the past year.