Saturday, 28 January 2012

How do you say hello?

Last night I had the pleasure of babysitting my niece for a couple of hours. Since Christmas her speech has come on in leaps and bounds and it was wonderful to be greeted with 'Hello Elaine', a smile and a wave all at the same time!

Isn't it amazing how quickly children learn the most effective way to greet others? Do you still remember the importance of making someone feel acknowledged or even better - special?

I went shopping with a friend a few days ago. I wonder how many potential sales are gained or lost through initial greetings? We actually walked out of some shops because the sales people ignored us! In one it was quite clear we could have used some help but the 'assistants' continued their personal conversations and completely ignored us! Do you make or break sales with your warmth or lack of it?

I often remind health professionals the importance of a warm greeting. It can make the difference between an excellent and poor experience. I am currently reading 'Blink - The Power of Thinking without Thinking' by Malcom Gladwell. I was fascinated by his reference to the fact that people do not tend to sue doctors who have been kind to them if mistakes appear to have been made, yet will almost queue up to take those who have been off-hand and rude to court! How much more understanding are you with someone you feel that has been pleasant with you?

My sister Claire and I watched a DVD together when she came home last night  - 'Julie and Julia' - 'Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book'. I found Meryl Streep's voice to be a bit irritating after a while but I did find a great deal of empathy with the 'blogger'. I smiled when initially both she and others questioned why she should blog - what was the point? Who would read it?

I also understood how she began to let it become an 'addiction' and took over other aspects of her life, as I did last year. At times I found myself 'in a moment' and instead of either enjoying it, or otherwise, I was wondering how I would write about it! I remembered how I would exhaust myself in the process and the burning 'need' to post a blog. I also had the 'meltdown' moments of 'why bother' and at times wanted to stop it completely and once or twice delete the whole lot! I especially liked the point where she wants to give up but prompted by her mother, continues.  I just wonder if mine will become a book or a film!

Today I have spent a wonderfully relaxed afternoon with my family. My niece Indra is back from Zimbabwe for a few weeks with her daughter Alana. They came up with Annie, my sister-in-law and Kerita, my other niece.  Along with my parents, brother, nephew and Claire, Martin and Sophie we had a very mellow few hours. It was fascinating to watch Alana and Sophie play together and how they interacted.

There are many more pictures here. My Mum commented that we don't need to invite guests for a party - there are enough of us to begin with!

Sadly Dominic could not join us due to GCSE revision. He is developing his skills as a photographer, when revision allows. Have a look at his work here. I am a proud Mum!

I have had messages from people asking me how I am. I really appreciate this. I have to say that I am okay. I feel settled into my new home and love being amongst my family. I am spending my 'working hours' on my new website which will be up within weeks. I am very excited about it. I am looking forward to speaking in Leeds on 15th March for the Customer Service Training Network. See you there?

The charity that I am trustee of,  The Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation , is going from strength to strength and we have many plans for the future. Fellow trustee Ann Girling and I are busy booking more workshops aimed at teams in Children's Centres.

I have been affected by problems with my email over the last few weeks - apologies if you have sent me something but I may not have received it. My email appears to be working again now. Phew!

Through it all my memories of Clive of course remain. I am extremely aware that we are approaching the anniversary of his death. At my sister's today we found a newspaper that had been dropped behind a piece of furniture. The date - 19th February 2011 - that day Clive died. I felt a cold shiver down my spine. Little did we know that the morning that newspaper was bought, within hours he would have gone. On the front of it was an advert for a DVD of 'Larkrise to Candleford' - we had loved watching that series together.

Clive was a great believer in 'letting go and moving on'. He encouraged all those in his audiences to make positive choices. To be the best they could be. He had a very powerful way of saying hello - who can forget those 'bear hug' greetings to male and female alike? He made many of us feel very special. I continue to receive messages from people saying how he is missed and what impact he had made on their lives. Me too.

However, he would never take the credit for that. He used to dismiss the idea that he was a 'motivational' speaker because he said he would simply share his experiences and ideas - if we made different actions and choices because of that, then he was delighted to have helped but ultimately he would have reminded us that we are all responsible for ourselves.

It broke my heart when Clive died. Saying good bye before they took his body from our home has to be the worse thing that has happened to me ('so far', he'd say, as you never know what's ahead!). I used to love our 'hellos'. A 'hello' means the start of something.

I chose now to say 'hello' to my future, yet never forgetting who I had to say goodbye to.

Today surrounded by my family, Annie and I reflected on how quickly our children have grown. Claire was saying that although our bodies age we still feel the same inside. I know what she means but experience does change us.

I want to make sure that when someone picks up a newspaper printed the last day of mine on this earth, that they too can say that I made a positive impact on the world - as many say Clive did -right from that first 'hello'.

How will you make your 'hello' memorable?

Elaine x

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Take pride in how far you have come .....

I remember a conversation with my friend Chris Bingley several months ago as we shared our respective journeys of bereavement. His for his wife Joe (see her foundation details here) and me for the loss of my partner, Clive Gott. He said that you never 'get over' them but you do learn to carry on. Also that when you least expect it - wham! - grief gets you right between the eyes. Well right now this is one of those moments! (Oh dear, I hear you say!)

Using my analytical thinking, why today? Why now? I have written over the last two months how much happier I have been, having moved back near my family. I am excited that son Dominic is coming for his tea with me later; that I shall be looking after my niece for a few hours in the morning then having coffee and toast with my parents. I love my new cottage and my new car. I have learnt to focus and concentrate again - currently working on getting more workshops booked with Children's Centres. I am meeting up with old friends and new. So why this morning has a real pang of grief over Clive hit me?

Part of it is the realisation that almost a year has passed since he died. I have started to ask myself and others have how will I spend 19th February, the anniversary of his death. I really don't know. I watched Dancing on Ice on Sunday night, cosy and happy in my cottage with wonderful company. One of the acts danced to 'Summer of 69'. In an instance I was back on the pitch at Headingley ...

I felt all the sensations. Since then it has been just a thought away again. I have been reminded of the pain. The shock. The dismay.

This morning began with a call from our friend Molly Harvey. Her career is riding high and next week she will present for Forever Living Products at the event that Clive did last year. It was, in his words, 'his finest hour - it was what he had been working for his whole life'. He truly was magnificent that day, as those who were in the audience would have agreed. He had his new book out; his new keynote sussed and successful. He had lost weight using their products and sheer determination and drive. I am thrilled that Molly will be there this year instead. I felt the grief for what we all have lost.

I have finally got back into watching the news - for so long I could not bear to be brought down by so much doom and gloom so avoided it. Of course the last few days it has been headlined by the cruise liner disaster. My heart goes out to all those involved, as I am sure millions of us who have had the pleasure of a cruise will have empathised. Having loved our cruise a year last September, that has also brought back memories.

I still receive messages from people who knew Clive and they tell me of how he impacted on their lives. For the support, inspiration, friendship and laughter he gave. The last few days I have had some of those too which have affected me. As I attended to emails this morning from out of nowhere the tears flowed!

I decided that I needed 'a dose of Clive' and watched this for the first time in months.

Incredible. That's where I am today - content yet unhappy 'in the moment'. I loved to hear him say he had 'enough'.  I do feel a great deal of comfort from the fact that when Clive died, he felt he had all he wanted. He was working hard to maintain what he had. He didn't have enough of one thing - time.

It was good to hear his voice and hear his laugh. It was good to be reminded of the amazing man he was. Being apart from my family when I lived with Clive was tough. I now am back with them but without him.

I was at a workshop on Friday and a comment was made that I was now at a position of 'stability' upon which to rebuild my life and grow. I have been feeling that. It's just shaken a little today.

For a moment I hesitated if to share these feelings. I took the decision to do so because I have to acknowledge that it is okay to feel like this. It is completely understandable. Clive meant a great deal to me and many others. I know that we all will 'have our moments'. He wasn't a saint. He had his flaws as we all do but he was a man who has left his mark on the world. By sharing I hope it helps others to realise that even though your general direction is upwards and strong, sometimes it is okay to have a little wobble. Go with it and then move on again. Be kind to yourself. As Clive would have said 'stop shoulding all over yourself', e.g. ' I shouldn't feel like this after 11 months'. Who says?

Our good friend Paul McGee would say this was a 'hippo' time. A little wallow every now and then is okay.

So what would Clive be saying to me now? For starters it would be 'get dressed'!!! I still have my dressing gown on in the office (something he would be very cross about)!  He would then give me a hug; let me cry and point out I had a very red nose! He would then ask what was I going to do about it or simply say 'this too will pass and make you stronger'.

Clive often told me that I needed to believe more in myself and what I am capable of. On reflection this year I have done many things I previously would have doubted. I feel now he would be reminding to consider all of that. As I type my eyes just noticed the card I keep on my desk:

'Take pride in how far you have come, and faith in how far you can go!'
(Christian Larson)

I guess I need to remember that. Smile at what we had and continue to plan for the future - including a way to celebrate his life on the 19th February.

So what are you beating yourself up about? As I say to people - be your own best friend and be kind to yourself.

For me that starts with boiled eggs and soldiers!!

Elaine xx

P.S. Clive's brother Malcolm read this and reminded me of this lion which Clive bought for him .... thank you xx

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Why I do what I do around postnatal depression .....

On Tuesday 17th January it will be seven years since my book 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness' was published. Only this week I received a humbling email from a lady who is currently suffering from the same illness and tells me that my story is giving her hope and 'getting her through'. That was why I shared what happened - it gives comfort to those who feel that the blackness will never end.

Since my book was published my life has changed, initially from leaving my teaching career to begin a new one as a speaker and advocate around maternal mental health. My marriage ended and I began new life in Yorkshire with fellow speaker, Clive Gott, who died suddenly last year. I am now back in Cheshire with my family and rebuilding my life again. I have determination, support and hope to find happiness again. I was told nothing and no-one could have saved Clive the day he died. His heart and arteries were beyond repair. I get comfort from that. The pain of bereavement is the worse I have ever faced.

If there was something or someone that could have avoided this pain then I would want to fight about it. I would want to avoid others from the devastation I have felt.

That is where my dearest friend Chris Bingley now is. His wife Joanne (Joe) took her own life whilst suffering from postnatal illness. He is in this position. As a trustee for the charity in her name now I am determined to join him in his call to action to avoid others families unnecessarily left bereft in such a way.

Currently Chris is on the media trail to highlight the charity and its aims.

I am listening to BBC Radio Leeds from last Wednesday 11th January (2 - 3 pm) when Chris was interviewed by Liz Green. I urge you to listen and share it. I know what happened but listening to Chris describe it all with such dignity, honesty and passion is truly inspirational.

Also here is the link to the article which appeared in the Yorkshire Post last week.

Please help us in the charity to spread the awareness about postnatal illness and call for more services to help families. The concept of 'just' postnatal depression needs to be shattered. As Chris says 'my wife died because we didn't get information which could have cost 70p.'

Chris is an incredible man. I am humbled and privileged to know him. His story has fuelled my desire and purpose to make early parenthood happier and easier for others.

Chris and I at Joe's charity launch

Please help us. Visit the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation  website and sign up for our newsletters on developments and how you can help.

Elaine x

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Can someone else please tell BT that Clive Gott has died?

Now my regular readers will know that I give credit where it is due. I love to be able to share my many positive experiences with my blog readers all over the world, for example, in my last post on buying a car. I may mention where I have had service that could be better but I don't usually name them - I prefer to give them the opportunity to rectify the situation.

However, next month Clive will have been dead for a year. Is it TOO much to expect a national company - BT - to continue to send me bills in his name at this stage? They were informed within a few weeks of his death BUT THEY CONTINUE!!

Even now I have moved house they are redirected to me here IN HIS NAME!!! I am almost past the severe emotional distress it caused me before I moved - when I would literally sit at the bottom of the stairs and sob my heart out at the reminder AGAIN that he has gone - see my previous blog
However, this morning AGAIN I have received my final bill reminder in his name and once again I am in tears - out of exasperation this time!

I have emailed numerous times, written and spoken to team members in customer service at BT, each time being assured that his name is off their database - yet still they come!!!! This morning I have lost my patience and therefore ask you to Tweet, Facebook, etc. about this! When I was at the Professional Speaking Association conference in October, which I wrote about here, I was talking about my dilemma then. The fellow diners suggested I named and shamed as within our network messages go global within minutes! Someone said how they had tweeted about poor service and within an hour they had the relevant head office on the phone!

So can you join me in getting my message to a company who refuse to listen and apparently do not care? My heart goes out to elderly widows and widowers who may have the same problem. Imagine how painful it must be to them months on if the same has happened? Why do BT insist on causing the pain of grief to be a constant reminder. They got my name right on my bank account immediately - so why can't they understand that the incredible Clive Gott has passed away?

Can you let them know please because for once I really am at a loss to know what to do?

In the meantime I need some Shayne!!

By the way - I signed up with Sky in my new home who have been great!

PS. After posting this I was given an email address by a friend to someone at BT. Within a couple of hours this matter was dealt with but what a shame I had to resort to this. I have had others comment that the same issue arises on divorce and a wish for BT to show more compassion. I have been told they will send me a survey to complete so that 'lessons can be learned'. I do hope so.

Elaine x

Monday, 9 January 2012

Baby you can drive my car ....

As 2012 gets under way I have found myself having to make another choice. This month my trusty Fiat Punto, which I have owned since it was new in January 2005, is due for tax, insurance and MOT. At 87,000 miles this was going to hurt!

You may have read about my windscreen wipers breaking a few weeks ago. My confidence in my car has been shaken as warning lights have also started to flash. We had intended to change it last year but due to Clive's death many plans have not happened as originally intended.

So the search began last week. I have become skilled at using Autotrader and had several phone calls and trips to car sales places on my own. I have never shopped for a car on my own before. It was interesting to witness the various 'stereotypes' of car sales people!

One car I viewed was pretty grotty - as soon as I sat in it I could smell cigarettes and stale take-aways. However I knew there was a similar car further away so I asked if I could take it for a test drive on that basis - if I liked the type of car I would venture to view the other one. The salesman simply gave me the keys and I manoeuvred it off the forecourt; up to the M53 and back again. 
On my return I re-parked it exactly how I had found it. The man appeared and in an amazed tone said.
'Wow! That was good parking ... we could use you here'.
The pause in the middle I suggested he meant 'for a woman' which he denied!
I didn't like the car. I left.

At another garage I was treated with the 'oh you're a woman on your own so I can pull the wool over your eyes and simply ask what colour you want'.
I didn't like his patronising manner. I left.

I went back to Autotrader and found another car I might like. I phoned the next day to be told that one had gone but they had others I might like. So I drove to Wigan. When I arrived the salesman was on his mobile phone and ignored me for a few moments whilst he finished his personal call (not that I was eavesdropping of course). He gained a point for realising that it was me that he had spoken to earlier. When I asked what else he had to show me he just gestured to the cars outside - 'have a look' he said - and continued his call.
I don't like being ignored. I left.

Also in Wigan I went to look at another car - when I found the garage - behind a cafe and a closed roller shutter door! I actually liked the shiny red car I had gone to see but the surroundings and elderly man smoking and 'dodgy' feel put me off. However, I decided that I wouldn't be so judgemental and give him a chance. That was until he made horrible comments about my car and offered me peanuts for it!
I don't like anyone insulting something or someone I love! I left.

By Saturday I had got down to a shortlist of three - top of my budget, middle and sensible! I took a friend with me who knows more about cars than me.

The first garage (sensible price) I hadn't been to by myself but I had spoken to 'Andy' on the phone who had been very pleasant. So we had a look at the Punto I was interested in - older than mine but less than half the mileage and in great condition. One snag was that ideally having my niece now nearby to pick up sometimes, a 5 door car would be easier - this one was 3. Otherwise everything else about it was fine. Andy was charming, without being a creep, gave us the keys and said he would not push us but invited us to explore the car. We did so. He then invited us into the warm office and gave us a copy of the warranty he would offer and when we explained we had others to view, gave us his card and said that if he could do anything above what he already was offering, then to ring and give him a chance.
We liked the car and him - we might go back  to MC Garages .....

Next was the mid-range car. The garage owner had said the previous day that changing my private plate over 'could be tricky' and that I shouldn't expect much for mine! He might give me a fraction more if it was MOT'd. However, I did like the car he had for sale so risked going back. The 'wind-up' windows made me smile in memory of one of Clive's keynotes when he had a story about self-control and road-rage - he'd make a joke about having a car with manual windows. The salesman refused to budge on anything. No negotiation at all.
My friend didn't like his stubbornness. We left.

At this point I suddenly felt very emotional. I realised that I would be saying goodbye to my blue car that has seen me through an incredible few years. I have been ecstatic and excited in that car - and hysterically distraught. When Clive had his knee operations in the final months of his life I had driven him many places in this car. That too was now going. Another sign of 'moving on'.

Finally we went for my top range one. I had liked the young girl who had originally showed me this car, in the absence of her boss. She had been helpful before I went, via email and phone. She offered me a great price for mine and I was keen to go back. Having made the comment above about women only choosing  a car on it's colour I admit that this one wasn't bright enough for me! I like to be bright! This one was black. Beyond that it was a 'bargain' due to water damage and then being refitted. Hmmm. Maybe trouble in future? 
We were concerned about the car although their service was great. We left to think.

So the decision was down to the dear one and the cheapest. So what was it to be? The shiny black 5 door with on 8,000 miles or the bright yellow one?

We called at my parents and a family 'conflab' was held including my sister! I decided we'd give Andy the chance he'd asked for. He then offered a bit more for my car plus road tax! Job done!

We went back to do the paperwork and again he was charming. He was so passionate and enthusiastic about his job and that came across. He will sort out all my paperwork for me and get me some new plates made up.
So on Wednesday I pick up my yellow Punto. And it just happens to match my new branding ...

So was my choice made just on the colour? It helped but basically I feel my choices were mainly directed by other people!

How many people do you influence by your manner? Do you appear friendly and helpful like Andy or disinterested and insulting like some of the others I came across?

On reflection my new car experience has again been impacted by the three aspects I keep referring to:-

1. Choice
2. Communication - this influenced my choices as I have described. Incidentally, the 'black car' garage, VIP car sales, replied to my email, informing them that I had decided against their car,  in such a lovely manner that I would go back to them another time.
3. Caring - Andy cared. He got the sale. Not only that - my friend has asked him to look out for a dream car for him!

I now have to compromise - any one got a spare car seat for a 2 year old I can have permanently in the back of my new car for Sophie, to make life easier and safer?!

What will you do today to positively influence someone?

Elaine x

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Sharp knives and wet kitchen floors!

Whilst I was washing up last night I remembered to leave the sharp knife out out the water until I was going to immediately wash it. I smiled as I recalled that it was something that Clive was adamant that I do. He would tell me the story of someone he had known that had taken the top clean off their finger by not being aware of a sharp knife lurking under the bubbles. He wanted to protect me. That story and advice is now part of my daily routine. My knowledge. My experience. A bitter sweet memory of Clive with his arms around me as I washed up (or he did).

That made me think of how others can impact upon us. I was away over New Year with my family in the Lake District. My brother-in-law Martin was often warning his toddler daughter to 'mind that head'. I guess we do it all of the time to those we love and want to keep safe. Yet I also reflected on how I teach myself advice. When I arrived back to my cottage the kitchen floor was flooded! For a couple of hours I had no heat either and stayed wrapped in a blanket on the settee feeling very glum. The rest of my family were still away; Dom was busy; I felt my mood slipping. I began to spiral into 'poor me' mode!

Then I gave myself a metaphorical slap! What would I advise others?
Choices - I could have easily gone to my parents or sisters homes for the night. I still had most of the basics in the house. All I had to do was wait for help which did arrive. As I listened to the wind I counted my blessings and thought of those who are homeless. I have so much to be grateful for. I had also chosen to come home earlier for a reason I wasn't sure of until I opened the back door!
Communication - I wasn't cut off. I had communicated with my landlord the problem and within a couple of hours he had got me sorted out. I hadn't just let the problem build up. I had taken action, asked for and received help graciously. I had done something. I just needed to remind myself of that! I wasn't wallowing and allowing more water to flood out.
Caring - I cared for my cottage and gave the landlord the opportunity to do so for both of our sakes! I cared for myself - I wanted to be safe and warm. I also allowed a good friend to care for me as they listened to my 'tale of woe' and some self pity before I talked myself back up! They also reminded me of my language - I had slipped into using 'try' and 'not too bad' instead of positive alternatives! So today I WILL take some constructive actions and acknowledge that life is okay and going to get even better!

I now have heat again - and a very clean kitchen floor!

Yesterday afternoon I also had a call out of the blue from a friend from Tadcaster just asking me how I was - much appreciated. Who can you call today and just say  'I was thinking of you'?

I now have a space both mentally and physically to plan and grow for 2012. I want to Dream Big! I am also prepared to take action too! Are you?

  • So what is it that you teach others and follow yourself?
  • What will people remember about you when you are no longer there?
  • What are your dreams and what will you DO to make them happen?

Elaine x

Monday, 2 January 2012

A New Year

‘An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.’  Bill Vaughn

Did you stay up? Which camp were you in? I confess I was in both!

2011 for me was undoubtedly the toughest I have faced (so far - as Clive would have said, as we cannot predict the future). It was worse for me than when I had puerperal psychosis and was in a psychiatric hospital after having my wonderful son. In many ways the illness ‘protected’ me and I suspect it was worse for those around me. Yet losing Clive so suddenly in February was awful. In an instance my life was turned upside down – emotionally, physically, financially, professionally. Readers of my blog have been with me on the journey since then and boy, have there been some dark times! There have also been some lighter moments and those which have made me smile.

On New Year’s Eve I went back though my diary and summarised the main events and experiences I have had in 2011. I was amazed on reflection! I have lost an incredible man – we all have – yet my diary reflects a varied and, taking emotion out of it, interesting list. I now feel far stronger, balanced and less upset than I was in previous months and have begun to realise now the extreme highs and lows I was functioning on. The ‘rollercoaster’ is now a much more gentle ride.

I thought back to last New Year’s Eve which I spent in Tadcaster with Clive and we went to some of the local pubs with Lynn, his sister, and Rod, her husband (below).

Clive and Rod

Lynn and I
Now I look at these I can see that Clive didn’t look well then. He was determined in the ‘New Year’ to lose weight and pushed himself to the limit to do so. Seven weeks later his heart gave up and Clive Gott left us. 

My sadness for 2011 is for the loss of him and our relationship. Our hopes, dreams, goals, plans. Our home and how we were building it together. Our friendships; our social life; our professional lives. All gone. It is the past. Clive wrote his last book ‘It’s not your time, it’s the time you have’, with the focus on making the most of ‘now’. My greatest legacy to him has to be to do that. To let go. To move on.
That doesn’t mean forget. It doesn’t mean what we had wasn’t special or to be brushed aside as if it didn’t happen. It did and it was an amazing time.  I now choose to smile when I remember instead of crying.

Coping with grief has been another journey – similar to depression – yet due to an event, not an illness.
So I could say that 2011 was an awful year but that would write off 365 days and nights. The first seven weeks were with Clive. Since his death my relationships with many others have grown, decreased, been rebuilt or even begun. I now have people around me that I didn’t realise how important they would become to me. I recommend Bob Beaudine’s book ‘The Power of Who’. We often seek new people when actually the support we need is already around us, if we can only recognise it, ask for it and appreciate it graciously. I now do!

I have pushed myself professionally to give presentations when I was ‘raw’ with emotion, yet that now gives me the strength and determination to do more, with the added confidence that ‘if I could do it then, I can do it anytime’!  Being given the opportunity to be a coach, via telephone, has taught me to listen and that it isn’t always ‘all about me’!!  The experience of rebuilding my life due to the loss of another, has given me a broader audience for inspirational speaking and writing. Living on my own for the first time has taught me how to be responsible for running a home, even if it just to put the bins out on the right day! 

Another huge positive step forward is actually going 'back' - to be with my own family. It was a big wrench to leave behind the home I shared with Clive but I had begun to be increasingly lonely there and holding onto something that had gone. Living within a 10 minute radius again of my son, parents, sister and niece has given me the strong basis on which to grow and develop in 2012. To be back to give and be part of my family on a daily basis is wonderful. I shall remain in touch with Clive's family and the friends I made over in Yorkshire  - just that I shall be making the journey over the M62 less.
Sophie and I Christmas day 2011
I am also just down the road from my friend and colleague Ann Girling and we are looking forward to expanding our workshops on postnatal depression, especially to Children's Centres. Our roles within the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation look to grow along with the charity. I shall be looking to renew my reputation as an inspirational speaker at conferences and my work with the Open University. My support for individuals through Greatvine and a coach will continue too.

So I am looking forward to 2012 and all that it may bring. I leave you for now with these sentiments of one of Clive's favourite songs - I have to agree with them, even if he is no longer in my physical world.

So are you going to be the pessimist or optimist?

Happy New Year!