Before I realised that I couldn’t afford to spend so much time there I used to be regular visitor to Waterstones on Deansgate in Manchester; my office was in the same block as Waterstones and it was a great place to go at lunch time to quickly refresh my brain and consequently I attended several of their book signing sessions and readings from authors. In terms of excitement those sessions paled compared to my anticipation of the launch of Julie Wray and Mary Braine’s book in the Allerton building yesterday. Had Julie not invited me I’d have gate-crashed it!
I’ve written before about my involvement with the Users and Carers conferences and its associated support group and how much I enjoy the conferences, the effect they have on student nurses and how invigorating they are to me. It’s inspiring to consider that this book, which draws on experiences from Users and Carers, will play an important part in the education of future generations of nurses and healthcare professionals. That’s an amazing legacy Mary and Julie!
The legacy of the Users and Carers group was emphasised by the members who attended yesterday’s event. Former GP and founder member Joe McShane talked to us about how he was ill prepared to become a carer after retirement, initially for his wife and latterly for his daughter. Former Salford Carers representative and Users and Carers stalwart Helen Hills spoke of her new role leading a group of charities. And then there were ‘newbies’ like Farida Anderson and me, both relatively new to Users and Carers but both committed to its future.
There were several highlights throughout the event, the first being entirely personal and wholly unexpected (as you can tell from the video below). I played a very, very small part in this book and consequently was staggered to be presented with a dedicated copy of it by Mary and Julie. I was further amazed after the event when Julie told me she was using my contribution to the book in her teaching and that her colleagues in Finland had asked to use it in their teaching too!
The second highlight was Julie’s home made chocolate and Guinness cake which was beautifully finished with an icing representation of the book’s front cover made by Anthony, one of the lecturers from the University.
And so to the third highlight, midway through the morning Julie disappeared to collect a letter from the House of Commons! It was a very supportive message from local MP Barbara Keeley and its arrival made me appreciate the impact of the book would be felt beyond the academic world. A point reinforced by Barbara Keeley’s tweeted message of support later in the day.
Apart from Julie’s cake and rather too many almond Danish pastries, what else did I get from the day? A realisation that no matter who we are, whether a professor, doctor, student nurse, patient or carer we can all inspire in our own way and that each day should be a new learning experience.
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