The Audacity to Dream – SW04 Area Day Conference
Salisbury. Saturday October 6th 2018
After weeks of wonderful, sunny early autumn weather 120 NWR members from far and wide arrived at Sarum Academy, Salisbury in pouring rain. What a good thing we had a bucket for the umbrellas!! Good humour was the order of the day however and the rain failed to dampen spirits!
The day, ‘The Audacity to Dream’, was planned with the 70th Birthday of the NHS in mind and with such a vast brief we honed in on a few unusual and perhaps lesser known aspects!
The proceedings began with 2 presentations of Singing for Health and Well Being. Liv Mclennan brought a few of her local ‘singing for lung health’ group along and soon had the entire auditorium on their feet making amazing faces and other contortions and then singing….even those who thought they couldn’t!!
This was followed by Kate Edgar who runs several local choirs. She spoke of the health benefits of singing and camaraderie and general ‘happiness’ factor and then members of her ‘Amici ‘ choir gave a rendition( with actions)of Tuxedo Junction and soon, once again the audience were on their feet singing their hearts out. What a lot of smiley faces…
Then came our main speaker, the Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe (just call me Ann!) who spoke on ‘NHS – Dream or Nightmare’. Her presentation was amusing and much laughter filled the hall. It was also serious and thought provoking and a salutary warning that the NHS has to change dramatically to survive. Nye Bevan did not, and indeed could not, envisage or foresee the future back in 1948. The advances in medical science, the increase in average life expectancy and the growth in population and immigration all play their part in making the original ‘Dream’ into today’s unwieldy and underfunded ‘Nightmare’. Ann said she had no magic formula but felt strongly that an open discussion involving all political parties alongside professionals in the medical field must take place to come to any workable solution. Each political party in power has to stop passing the buck and blaming the next. There was ample question time and as usual NWR ladies were not backward in coming forward!
Then before a wonderful lunch, Laura Drysdale from the Restoration Trust gave a fascinating insight into The Human Henge Project which took place last year using the Stonehenge Landscape with English Heritage with a group of people with mental health problems. A few of the participants came along and read poems and one lady played a penny whistle for us! Part of the presentation was by Yvette Staelens who managed the Human Henge project and she presented a very moving and emotional and insightful audio visual record of the project.
After lunch everyone repaired to their chosen workshop on various aspects of health and well being after which each group reported back to a plenary session with a question or statement to ponder.
Then our Trustee Josephine Burt introduced our brand new Patron, Marion Molteno (incidentally she was a speaker at our last SW04 conference!) Marion introduced herself and asked that as Patron she might be involved as much as possible with area and national events in the future. She is a super, approachable, kind person with a wealth of experience and knowledge, so I urge all members to include her in NWR activities and to make her welcome.
We finished our day with more music, this time the glorious voce of Katie Ereira . Katie is hoping to gain a place at the Welsh Conservatoire next year and we wish he well. Her voice is truly ethereal and I think many attendees were close to tears as she filled the auditorium with 3 songs including Abba’s ‘I Have a Dream’ which seemed totally appropriate to the title of our day. Katie’s mum is one of our Salisbury NWR members.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our day. The Dream Team of Organisers was, and still is, well pleased!! The one common thread that came from all ideas and views expressed in the varied presentations is that we must all take some responsibility for our own health. The NHS turns up trumps in an emergency situation but has to deal with far too many unnecessary and avoidable pressures on its time, expertise and funds.
Look after yourselves!