The last couple of weeks have been a complete rollercoaster for me with one of the highest ‘highs’ and lowest ‘lows’ of my life within a 24 hour period. I have been very moved by the response to my tribute to my dear friend Lindsay Kyle, particularly from her family and friends.
Well today I want to share the high point – the huge honour of being listed as one of the top 50 ‘HSJ Inspirational Women, 2014′.
I am only sorry that Lindsay – and indeed my Dad and my Mum-in-law, who were also big ‘believers’ in Whose Shoes? - were not here to share my achievement. They have all seen the sheer hard work, (blood sweat and tears!) that goes into building a successful story.
It is actually quite a funny story as, believe it or not, I only heard anything about it (and then only indirectly) 24 hours before I was due in London for the Awards evening. As I said in my last blog, “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” and this John Lennon wisdom has my name on it at the moment.
After a really hectic couple of weeks, I had this period pencilled in my diary as a quieter time; a chance to catch up on a few things. The one long-standing commitment was a lovely community workshop with Ken Howard at Temple Balsall, a beautiful rural village church where the Magenta Vicar, as I fondly nickname her, fascinates me. She is a colourful character in every respect and knows how to make interesting things happen. A constructive boatrocker; and I look forward to working with her further. ;-)
I will include a few tweets about this as an insight to my work. The award is nothing in isolation; it means a lot to me because it recognises all the wonderful people I work with, such as Ken Howard, and how together we are making a difference.
What with an unexpected visit from our best mate from Sydney, a panoply of medical appointments for my Mum and much else in between, my week was already changing from a quiet week into yet another crazy week.
And then I started getting some strange DMs (direct messages) on Twitter. “Yay, tomorrow #hugs!!” was the gist of them. As the news became clear, it led to a bottle of champagne from Dan, our Aussie friend, who again has followed the highs and lows of my ‘journey’ and, if truth be told is a big fan of my mini croc shoes. :) Indeed, he was just admiring the new summer range colours, when the news started to come through. And no Dan, I won’t let you post any rude comments on my blog, so don’t even try. … It must be an Australian thing as Dan enjoys a lot of banter!
Anyway, I digress. The short version is that as Alison Cameron and I celebrated her success and planned to post her wonderful blogpost, neither of us had any idea that I was also included on the HSJ list. It subsequently turned out to be quite an interesting communications pathway (polite version) where the organisers assumed I knew … but it did make it all VERY exciting.
So we re-jigged many things and it was with huge anticipation that ‘Mr #WhoseShoes’ and I caught the train down to London. Indeed we had some extra time to anticipate – thanks for that London Midland. ;-)
I was thrilled to find that a lot of women I know and respect hugely were also included on the list. It turned into a wonderful tweet-up! And, as usual on such occasions, I was struck by the two fairly distinct groups in the room – the social media tweeps hugging with delight at meeting fabulous Twitter buddies, often for the first time – and those more congruent with the formal atmosphere that would traditionally surround such events.
As I looked around the room and picked out people
I knew, I thought about the stories behind all the different connections and how they would be different for everyone in the room.
A further example of the rich tapestry of inter-connecting lives, and how we all influence each other, that struck me so vividly at Lindsay’s funeral.
So, here are just a few of my personal cameos about some of the other award winners:
Dr Kate Granger:
An obvious inclusion in the list, I was very sorry indeed that Dr Kate Granger was not well enough to attend but her name came up everywhere I went. I love the simplicity of #hellomyname is – and indeed the simplicity of Kate. Describing herself as ‘just a normal Yorkshire lass’, and believing this, is arguably what makes her so special.
Inevitably a lot of very senior people, in traditional roles, are included on the list. I have seen some criticism of this asking why more ‘grassroots’ people are not included – but it makes sense that many of the people who inspire us as senior leaders start life as inspirational ‘grassroots’ people. Anyway, how wonderful in this context to see recognition for Alison Cameron and Yvonne Newbold – two people who have SO much more to offer than a label of ‘Patient’ or ‘Patient Leader. Having become friends with Alison and followed her story so closely, it was nothing short of magical to see the pride in her Dad’s eyes that night.
Again I am a big fan of Andrea Sutcliffe. Quicker off the mark than me, Andrea has written her own blog about the awards evening and it was lovely to see that it meant so much to her too. I would think being Chief Inspector for Social Care can be a lonely place sometimes but the ‘down to earth’ manner in which Andrea gets on with things and relates to ‘ordinary’ people makes her a breath of fresh air, as I wrote in my blog quite some time ago. I was delighted to see this being recognised – and indeed it felt healthy that someone so ‘senior’ in social care got a health-based award. There is a God – the systems are starting to speak to each other! ;-)
What to say about Kath Evans? As I said this is about personal cameos and nobody else will get it if I describe Kath as “the lady with the pink shirt” – except my Mum @Gills_Mum, as this is my epithet for Kath when Mum struggles to keep up with all the exciting people I talk about! They met when we held a Whose Shoes? event at the NHS Improving Quality centre in Coventry. Mum, as everyone else, remembered Kath for her warmth and enthusiasm. And Kath and I sowed some early seeds for some work together around Patient Experience in maternity services, which are now coming to fruition. Watch this space…
Anne Cooper, or @AnnieCoops as she is affectionately known, is another thoroughly genuine, engaged, enthusiastic NHS champion. But again the cameo is very personal. We had wanted to meet for ages. I had tweeted that Anne was ‘top of my Twitter stalking list’ – this must have been after I finally met Richard Humphries ;-) – and we finally met at the Florence Nightingale conference in London in February this year. I heard Anne speak knowledgeably and engagingly about informatics and learnt a lot – including confirming my belief that a good talk is 90% the speaker and 10% the topic because passionate people bring their topics ALIVE! Anyway, I remember nicking Anne’s shoes and pinning them on my Pinterest board.
Dr Nikita Kanani
Nikita is someone else I met for the first time at the Quality and Safety Forum in Paris. At this event, we seemed destined to keep missing each other. With 3000 delegates, all the DMs in the world and messages saying “meet you at the back at the end of the session” can be very tricky. So it was lovely to chat with her on the awards evening, celebrating with her very proud Mum!
Teresa and I first met at the Dementia Round table event in London last December. We also found ourselves lurking in the same audience when Dominic Stenning and Victoria Betton did a talk about social media at NHS Expo. I think @WeNurses is such a great idea – again simple and effective. And it was lovely to meet Dawn @WeMidwives too! And now we have @weschoolnurses @wechaplains and @weallsortsofotherthings!
Dr Tammy Angel
I have only just met Tammy, on my recent visit to west Hertfordshire NHS Tust but she made a huge impression on me, working tirelessly and imaginatively for people living with dementia. Hoping to post a guest blog soon telling you more about this great work :)
Dr Alys Cole-King and Yvonne Newbold
Two more inspirational women, both of whom I knew from Twitter but hadn’t met in person until the awards evening. Yvonne was honoured for her Parents’ Handbook, Alys for her powerful “U Can Cope” campaign.
And how do I know all these wonderful people? Twitter!
So what? This is the powerful question I keep asking in my work…
I will be thrilled if the HSJ recognition helps me gain more opportunities to do the sort of work I do, and love doing, with Ken. To extend it and work with people like Alison; young people like Adam perhaps. My work is all around equality and inclusion. I love working with Kate Swaffer and the Dementia Alliance International; connecting people and sharing good practice globally is a big part of our vision.
And despite some people ‘knocking awards’, it was really lovely to see the stream of congratulatory tweets pouring in – and even more direct messages. Here are a small selection and I am not ashamed to say that it was absolutely lovely and I feel that the vast majority of people I connect with are very generous and mutually supportive.