Saturday, 25 October 2008

Dom and I do Legoland!

Ever since Dominic was 2 his passion has been Lego. By the age of 5 he could
put kits together meant for teenagers! His room is a shrine to Lego! My
parents took him and his cousin to Legoland for the first time when he was 3
and we have had an annual pilgrimmage ever since! Often with his cousin or a
I explained to Dom a few weeks ago that I am away a great deal in November
but at half term I would be at his beck and call.
So he asked if just the two of us could have an extra day at Legoland.
He didn't want to do rides but all the workshops. He said he'd be busy and
would worry about me 'just sitting' but I explained that would be a treat
for me! So after a slow journey on the M6 and M42 we had a night at Slough
Great location and good value book grab an early breakfast if you want to be at Legoland for the gates opening!
So next morning we were in a packed theme park on a crisp but sunny autumnal day.
First thing Dom chose to do was enter a 'build your own space ship'
competition. The prize was immaterial as he spent almost two hours creating
an intricate masterpiece. Meanwhile I settled down with a book - the
Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I then people-watched. It was amazing
how many parents interfered with their child's play telling them to add this
or that. Others were being nagged at for spending 'too long' being creative
when they should be getting in queues for a ride! Another child was in
trouble for moaning and told that if they didn't behave they couldn't stay
for the fireworks in 8 hours time! Going to be a long wait!! It reminded me of the excellent 'Watch, wait and wonder' scheme for parents in observing their child at play, which I had heard of in Australia.
Dom then spent another long session creating vehicles to race followed by a
big mooch in the shop finally settling on a pick-a-brick selection from
loads of tubs.
The day passed quickly with Dom building wherever he could and choosing not
to queue for rides.
As dusk fell we sat waiting for fireworks to begin amid the fraying tempers
of families and excited children waving light sabers around and fighting
with each other!
The fireworks were impressive and as I watched him, wide-eyed, it took me back to when he was 16 months old and we went to Disney in Florida. Where did the years go? He has grown up to be a wonderful young man of whom I am very, very proud! We then did join a few queues and did have a go on some rides before we left for the long drive back to Cheshire.
I thought it would be the last time we went ... but he is already planning our next visit!

So from both a parent and child view we recommend Legoland for a fun day out!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Forward Ladies lunch
I had a delicious lunch today with Forward Ladies at the Victoria and Albert
hotel in Manchester.
Prior to the lunch I enjoyed an hour or so with Mumtaz
Hussain who has her own law firm MacKenzie Hope.
It seems we share the same positive outlook on life and like to spend time with those who also do. We also have grown as a result of troubled times and want to share the strength we have realised as a result.
At the lunch the air of a positive outlook continued. Etta Cohen, the
founder of Forward Ladies, explained the history and purpose of the
organisation and immediately we put the social and business opportunities
into action. It was great to meet the wonderful Jan Harney again. Jan is a
vicar and does amazing work for women of ages. She also makes her own

Over the meal we chatted about a number of issues but Mumtaz and I stressed
the impact that writing goals, having a vision and a support system had made
a difference to us. Some of the younger ladies were interested in this so I
confess it gave me chance to mention Clive and mine workshop on 11th
Rebecca Durrant from Horwath Clark Whitehill, . commented that she had seen me on the 'big cheese' table at the Chamber of Commerce lunch with Hazel Blears! I explained that had been a flook!
At the end of the lunch I spoke to ladies about the Professional Speakers
I am to take over as President of the NW chapter later in the
year so want more members to benefit as I have done!
I left very invigorated and played and sang along to Lionel Richie in the
car! Mum and I have just booked for his tour next year! Hooray!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Runcorn World

I just had a chat to my friend Sue, who featured heavily in my book and remains one of my best friends.
She told me that I had been in one of the local papers recently, after my trip to Australia.
The article is here ...

Has anyone got a copy I can put in my cuttings book please?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Simply Devine!

Tonight I spent a very relaxed evening organised by my favourite networking group

A select group of ladies gathered at Simply Devine, a shop based in Tadcaster, for drinks, a buffet, getting to know each other and do a bit of shopping. Recipe for a top girl's night out I'd say! The company was excellent and the shop a real treasure trove of goodies for ladies of any age.
The main focus is on hats but there was a wonderful array of jewellery, bags, scarves, cards and gifts too.

Earlier this year I had been planning on going to York Races and had sorted to hire a hat from the stunning array at Simply Devine. However, due to the torrential rain the event was cancelled. The shop had called me to tell me even before I heard it on the news and insisted on returning my deposit. It wasn't their fault and they must have lost out but this level of customer service is rarely seen and I was extremely impressed so have no hesitation in recommending them.

Have a look at their website and even better, go and pop in for a treat for yourself!

Tadcaster is just between Leeds and York.

The Business Network West Yorkshire

Today my new venture took off! Clive Gott and I did our first (of many!) presentations together as a seminar before The Business Network West Yorkshire lunch.

The venue was The Golden Lion Hotel in Leeds.

This was our workshop outline:-

How to take life by the throat and say “I’m not done yet!”

This presentation will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and you WILL be challenged. Clive and Elaine will introduce you to the three qualities that they believe we all have at our disposal to ensure a positive outcome to our journey… should we choose to tap into them.

Belief - Stop “ripping and stacking.”
We will explore the belief that we can (or can’t) achieve more and the more important belief that we deserve to achieve more.

Motivation - “Motion creates emotion.”
Are you a Quitter a Camper or a Climber? If we have a strong enough “why” the “how” will take care of itself. We will also look at the rules to goal setting.

Support - “Remember the Law of association.”
There is no such thing as a self-made anything. We All need help and support at some point. Where will yours come from and more important have you asked them if you can ask them?

By the end of the session participants will:
• Have an honest and personal understanding of the gap between where they are now and where they want to be
• Understand some of the beliefs that support them in or prevent them from crossing their gap
• Understand what will motivate them to cross the gap and how to create that motivation at will
• Be aware of the support they have, or will need, to cross their gap

What have one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, a leading footballer, a chief constable, a school teacher and an adventurer all got in common, along with an average 25% of people in the UK today (And this includes YOU?)
(Goldberg, D. & Huxley, P. 1992, Common mental disorders ¬ a bio-social model, Routledge.)

They have all suffered some form of mental illness. Some of them survived to fight on.

Whether we simply survive life or choose magnificence is just a matter of how well you cross the gaps that appear between where you are at any given time and where you want to be. Your gap might indeed be depression or other mental illness. It might also be a presentation, a sales call, a commitment to lose weight or pay off debts or survive the break up of a relationship that seems like it will hurt forever.

Unusually the workshop was held in a bedroom! Yes, but without the bed! It made for a cosy and intimate session for around 35 people who left with ideas on how to improve and maintain their mental health. General feedback was good - were you there? What did you think?

It was our taster for a full day workshop to be held in the New Year on Sunday 11th January at a Leeds venue, to be confirmed. The idea will be to review 2008, celebrate successes and deal with negativity, leading onto setting personal and professional plans to make 2009 the best year yet! So who do you know who needs a mental boost to kick start next year? Costs will be £75 for the day if employed, and £10 for those on benefits.

If you would like full details of this please sign up to our newsletters at either or

Thank you to Caroline Coward from the Business Network for enabling us to present this session.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Making a Difference for Mums

I have been building my speaking career around postnatal illness for 3 years now but I have to say that today was one of the most rewarding events I have done.

Earlier this year a lady called Merna Carruthers, a Community Engagement Co-ordinator based at the impressive Kirkby Community Primary Care Centre near Mansfield, contacted me after she had received an email about the work I do.

We decided to put on a whole day for both mothers who are currently suffering and interested health professionals. She secured funding for a creche and a lovely buffet too.

The day began with a number of very quiet and 'down' ladies who just by being there had made a step in the right direction of recovery. I shared my story and in doing so little by little I could see the current sufferers having 'me too' moments. Seeing the reality strike home that 'you are not alone' is brilliant! After a break we then looked at the signs and symptoms and the ladies began to open up more and we added to the list!

By lunchtime barriers had begun to come down and the ladies happily chatted to each other. They had not met prior to the day and I know that merely by facilitating time to meet others who were feeling the same was a powerful recovery tool.

Back in the workshop room we then talked about the things which were the worst about suffering from postnatal depression. Key areas that were discussed included other people's comments; loneliness; guilt and having no energy. We debating how to overcome these. We then moved onto the things which made them feel better, such as simple acts of kindness; being with people who made them laugh; collecting their baby after they have been apart.

With the positive scene set we then went on to consider a variety of ways to help with recovery - come on one of my workshops to find out what!!!

The day ended with each lady being given a hand massage by a therapist who had donated her time freely and they all left with a bag of pampering goodies donated by Boots - thanks to both.

But for me the buzz in the room at the end of the afternoon brought a lump to my throat. All the ladies exchanged their details with one another and the room was filled with fun and laughter.

However, the feeling of 'what next' emerged and they decided they wanted a reunion in a few months time to see how much progress has been made - their words, not mine. A couple want to bring along their husbands too. So in mid December we are getting together again - they even debated what food we were to have!

One of the health professionals from Sure Start also said that the day had helped her both personally and professionally.

Thank you Merna for being so supportive in setting up and arranging funding for the day.

With her permission, this is the feedback I received from one of the group

Hi Elaine
Just thought I'd drop you a line just to say thank you for what you did yesterday at the health centre . . . you're an inspiration to people who have got postnatal depression. You are living proof that no matter how bad it gets, with the right support and people around you you will come out the other side. . .last night was the first good night sleep I have had in a long time thanks to all that you said and did for us yesterday. . I'm looking forward to our follow up in December. . take care speak soon, love .... x

I felt today was a true honour and privilege to be enabled to impact upon ladies like that. I had a very happy and fulfilled drive to my next venue!

Thank you ladies for being so honest with me and sharing at whatever level you were comfortable. I know that the theme of the day 'You are not Alone' was definitely achieved!

It is messages like that which motivate me so powerfully! Give me more Mums to talk to please!!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

BBC Filming with Ruby Wax for Headroom

Today I went down to London for an exciting bit of filming. I had to get the train from Sheffield as I had to be back in that area that night and used East Midlands rail for the first time. My sincere thanks to Customer Host Derek who was a wonderful character and made my journey very pleasant!

Once in London I went to Ruby's beautiful home. She has a series with the BBC called Ruby's Room -

"Welcome to Ruby's Room, a cosy place to air feelings about those things we all tend to brush under the carpet.

I'll be looking at life's ups and downs that can leave us feeling blue - things like stress at work, coping with teenagers, the Black Dog (yes, depression), your daily obsession with CAKE... whatever!

I know how you feel and I also know how frightening and isolating problems like depression, stress or anxiety can be. I'll be here each week to listen and answer your questions. You can also find my films on YouTube."

We sat on a bench in the communal gardens at the back of her house and she asked me questions about my experience of postnatal depression. I think we filmed for about 20 minutes or so and before I knew it I was back on the train and heading back north.

Ruby and the production team were charming and I eagerly await the film being put on the site in a week or two. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Professional Speakers Association NW

Tonight I was at the NW Professional Speaker's Association meeting held at the Radisson hotel at Manchester Airport. We meet once a month to support fellow 'experts who speak for a living'.

Our showcase speaker was Anthony Day who tried out a new talk on being environmentally friendly in business for the future.

Then we had the excellent Geoff Ramm who gave us plenty of hints and tips for marketing our businesses.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Radio Merseyside Breakfast Show

This morning I reviewed the newspapers on the Tony Snell Breakfast show on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Following that I attended a briefing at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce about Dubai, where I am to visit in November as part of a trade mission with UK Trade and Investment with a view to exploring speaking opportunities out there.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ironman's Meltdown!

(Photo by Janet Jones

In the last couple of years I have learnt a great deal and met many interesting people through my membership with the Professional Speakers Association. In recent months another of the members, Clive Gott, who is an inspirational humorist, heard me speak and decided that he also wants to challenge the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental illness.

His story appeared in the Yorkshire Post today under the title 'Ironman's meltdown'. Clive is the classic 'Action Man' figure who climbs mountains and runs across deserts, then uses his stories with humour and inspiration to encourage others to tackle their challenges and make and achieve their goals.

But he had a breakdown last year and realised that depression is not a choice as he once believed! Have a look at

We are now working together to speak to audiences across the business community, health professionals, educational establishments - in fact anyone who could be showing signs of stress! By sharing our stories and how we overcame our problems we aim to help others avoid a breakdown or at the most simple level offer ways to improve their mental health.

Our first public workshop will be on Sunday 7th December. Full details to be confirmed.