Category: Cupcake Day 16th June 16

Guest Blog: Charlotte Willis shares her passion for #NationalDonorDay

Guest Blog: Charlotte Willis shares her passion for #NationalDonorDay

I’d like to introduce myself: my name is Charlotte. I’m 39 years old and I live in London. I’ve also lived in other cities too: Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Sydney, but my home, and my family and friends, are in the UK. I enjoy my job working in technology in Finance, and have worked hard to build a successful career after I finished university. Outside of work, I like to go to the theatre, see live music, watch movies (especially outdoor ones on summer evenings), and go for walks in the countryside at the weekend.

I enjoy doing ‘adventure’ sports too: skiing, surfing, and I used to trampoline competitively (at amateur level) until a few years ago. Last year I also sailed a quarter of the way around the world, crewing a 70ft ocean racing yacht as part of a global yacht race. I’ve run the London Marathon and completed the London Triathlon. I like to travel too, explore new countries and cultures, and count countries as I go – I’m up to 52!

I am a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Ambassador and spent some time last year volunteering at a ‘code club’ teaching kids how to code computers. I try and find time to volunteer through my work too to encourage the next generation, especially girls, to consider technology as a career, and to recognise that not all technology jobs have to be ‘geeky’!

I’m very close to my parents and siblings and am enjoying seeing my 1-year old twin neices get more and more mischievous as they get older!

Oh and I’ve also had two kidney transplants. My kidneys failed unexpectedly and out of the blue when I was 12 years old and mine and my family’s lives were turned upside down overnight. A month later, a family unbeknownst to me lost their son in a car accident and they made the incredibly brave decision to donate his organs for transplant – I was the lucky recipient of one of his kidneys. Their selfless act meant that rather than being resigned to a continual whirlwind of hospitals, what-if conversations, medications, and operations, my life and importantly the lives of my parents and my siblings and all those close to us straightened out and returned to normal. A slightly new version of normal – I still take a small collection of pills twice a day – but I went home, I went back to school, my parents started to breathe a little more easily, and I got to live. And that’s an abiding part of the way I choose to live my life to this day; someone else made a decision that allowed me to carry on living when their son couldn’t and I am grateful for that every single day. Their son’s kidney graduated university with me, travelled the Trans-Siberian railway with me, ran the London Marathon with me. Through the anonymity of organ donation (the choice is up to the donor’s family) they have been such a huge part of my life and yet I have no idea who they are. I can’t change their story but they’ve changed mine and I take that responsibility seriously.

Transplanted organs don’t live forever yet (medical science is still working on that one) and in my late 20s, my donated kidney got too tired to keep me going at the level needed. Unlike the overnight bombshell the first time around though, this time we had time to plan and make choices, and in collaboration with the doctors, it was decided that my Dad would donate a kidney to me. He was 65 years old at the time but after passing all the medical tests, he had one kidney removed via keyhole surgery and it was transplanted into me, right next to my first donated kidney. It’s not uncommon for first transplants to be left where they are and mine still chugs away, doing what kidneys do, supporting my Dad’s kidney. So whilst it may have needed some extra help, it remains an important part of me. My Dad’s age and therefore the age of my second donated kidney isn’t an issue either – his kidney completed the London Triathlon with me, climbed the highest mountain in Borneo with me, and sailed 10,000 nautical miles with me across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Ten years down the line, both my Dad and I are fit and healthy, and life for us and our family has again carried on as it should. I turn 40 next year and I’m already planning how to mark the occasion! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my two kidneys donated by selfless, brave, and very special people. That car accident in 1990 that took one family’s son gave me, and everyone close to me, an opportunity to carry on living. Organ donation is a personal issue and one you will most likely have a view on, but I hope that my story also gives you a view of how ordinary people are leading ordinary lives, only made possible by extraordinary decisions. Make the extraordinary decisions in your life as they might save someone else’s.

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The Great Big Rhino Project

The Great Big Rhino Project

The Great Big Rhino Project is a trail around the streets, parks and open spaces of the English Riviera and Exeter, and beyond.  For 10 weeks, life-size rhino sculptures will inhabit the streets, showcasing the wealth of artistic talent in the area, while highlighting the significant conservation threat facing wild rhinos and how the local business community can make a difference.  Similar Wild in Art events have run throughout the country, including The Great Gorillas Project in 2013. Last year Bristol and London had Shaun the Sheep raising funds for Wallace & Grommit’s Children’s Charity.

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The Rhinos can be seen on the streets until Sunday 9th October. They will be on display at Paignton Zoo from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th October before being auctioned for charity in early November. Money raised by Paignton Zoo’s Great Big Rhino Project will be channelled through Save the Rhino International.

Parkland residents will be visiting Rhino Blossom and Lives in our Hands at Bernaville Garden Centre, Cornerways residents won’t have to travel far to see Rhino Stardust located on Preston green.

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Follow the trail here: http://www.greatbigrhinos.org.uk/follow-the-trail

Guest Blog – Gina Awad from the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance

Guest Blog – Gina Awad from the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance

This week our blog is brought to you by Gina Awad who leads the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA) which is a voluntary community group that is aspiring to educate local organisations in the city about dementia. The alliance will enable a better understanding of the condition empowering those living with dementia and recognise the invaluable contribution of their families.

Gina is proud to share some of the work the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance as they have been busy behind the scenes creating lasting partnerships in the city.

One which stands out as making an invaluable difference socially for people living with dementia and their families is the Exeter Picturehouse.  This comes first hand from attendees of the three Dementia Friendly Screenings at the cinema in the past few months. The partnership was launched during Dementia Awareness week in May with over 90 attending the first screening. It is now a regular addition to the Picturehouse programme as well as a super trip out for people living with dementia in the community. Those attending have included members of local groups such as The Mede, Age UK, Memory Cafes and a number of Care homes in the area such as Parkland House. All of which are our committed members aspiring to challenge perceptions around dementia and make a lasting difference.

A high percentage of people living with dementia have explained how they can feel isolated and lonely and we believe meaningful engagement, support and compassion all make a significant difference to their wellbeing.

Exeter Picturehouse have been both inspired and moved by the screening response and hub of activity that has accompanied each one.

I personally attended the screenings of the “Calamity Jane Singalong” and “Some Like it Hot” which featured on a Wednesday morning. To witness and partake in the event was both heartening and affirming.

Carers attend free and tickets are just £4 including complimentary tea and coffee during the 20 minute interval. Low lighting, audio adaptions and toilet signage all add to the experience, offering personal comfort. “Nothing is too much trouble for the staff” said one attendee,  “the best morning out in such a long time” said another.

Here are some of the attendees, I think the picture reveals a good time out had by all …

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The next Dementia Friendly screening is at 11am on Wednesday 14th September and will be “Passport to Pimlico”  For booking visit:

https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Exeter_Picturehouse/film/passport-to-pimlico

Don’t judge me till you walk a mile in my shoes

Don’t judge me till you walk a mile in my shoes

As the saying goes “walk a mile in my shoes, see what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel, then maybe you’ll understand why I do what I do, till then don’t judge me”. Ten Peninsula Care Home staff took part in a virtual Dementia Tour to try and do just that. It is evidence based medically & scientifically proven to be the closest experience that a person with a healthy brain can experience what it might be like to be living with dementia.

Of course every individual is different and over 100 types of dementia the effect on a person will be different. However the eight minute long tour helped our staff be more empathic by experiencing first hand physical and mental challenges potentially facing those living with dementia.

virtual-dementia-tour-participantOur staff described the experience as scary, isolating, confusing and emotional. Personally I was largely frustrated. The facilitator guided you through some common everyday tasks and exercises while you are fitted with devices that alter your senses. My frustration was because I hadn’t heard the instructions, I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing, my vision was distorted, I was fumbling to grip due to the gloves, and the continual noise playing in the headphones was driving me to distraction.

I think as each staff member returned to work they couldn’t help but reflect on their recent experience. Asking themselves how they could be better at their role, how they could improve lives of those in our care by not exacerbating potential problems and by remembering what it may feel like to walk in their shoes.

Peninsula Care Homes hopes to be able to bring the virtual tour back to Devon so more of our staff can experience. If you wish to learn more visit http://www.training2care.co.uk/.

Devon Venus Awards 2015

Peninsula Care Homes wins Employer of the Year!

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The Venus Awards are a national programme often referred to as the Working Women’s Oscars. The Venus Awards recognise and celebrate local women working in business. The organisers believe that women play such a pivotal role in our local economies that it is only right that the spotlight be shone on them.

Sam Curtis, Director Business Banking Nat West said on presenting the award “through Venus awards I have met so many fabulous women – those who through their own determination, drive and enthusiasm, often who have overcome barriers and obstacles have built extremely successful businesses. Nat West has been lucky enough to sponsor the “Employer of the Year” category. This looks to reward individuals who have built a strong culture which is supportive, flexible & enables women to maximise their full potential. The nominations were the strongest I have seen, making the process to select a winner even more difficult than in previous years.

Louise Arnold from Peninsula Care Homes employs in excess of 200 staff. Historically the care industry attracts more women & it is important to be able to offer flexibility. Training is part of the culture, some being helped with basic numeracy & literacy, others progressing through the management roles. Louise herself is committed to personal development & continues to complete qualifications to maintain the position as providing the highest quality level of support to staff & residents.”

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