A Message From Our Director

50 years old and ‘a little eccentric’?


Time for a cup of tea.

On 12th June  2013 I reached the ripe old age of 50.  I could not let this occasion pass without doing something completely in character, and so, on 15th June, I entered Mitcham Carnival’s street parade dressed as a compost bin to raise money for charity…

Those of you who knew me at the Maynard School, the University of Surrey, the Silesian University, the University of Birmingham, Progressive Tours, the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, the British Council or Surrey County Council, and those of you who know me now on the BedZED estate, in Hackbridge or Pollards Hill, you are likely to say one of two things:  either ‘now she’s completely lost it’ or ‘yes, well that figures’.  Or both?

True enough, I am ‘slightly mad’, experiencing, as I do, bouts of depression on and off since I was a teenager.  I have come to terms with this and see it as a part of myself – more a beautiful scar than a running sore.

In my fifty years of life, I have experienced many good things and been too close for comfort to a number of not so good things:  serious illness, mental ill health, self-harm, abuse of alcohol, substance misuse, domestic violence, debt, addictions, sexual assault, death of a loved one from a terminal condition and overdose.

At the Commonside Trust, the charity I am proud to head up, we run a programme supporting parents experiencing any and many of the above difficulties.  The programme is called Step Forward, because we aim to support parents back onto their feet until they are ready to take their first, second and third steps forward, becoming more independent, self-sufficient, confident, happier…  This is the cause for which I chose to fund-raise.

So I asked you to sponsor me as a compost bin on 15th June….This was definitely a once in a lifetime offer!  You could do this online and make a one-off donation, or send me cash or cheque.  You can see a photo of me parading as a compost bin by clicking here.

With your help we raised over £400 that day!  THANK YOU.  It is never too late to donate – cash or cheques are still welcome!

My two biggest fears when I was growing up were:  that life might turn out to be boring, and that I might make a fool of myself in public.  Life has turned out to be oh so not boring, and as for making a fool of myself in public? well, despite the terrible weather on the 15th, I had fun!

With thanks.



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