June News

1 June 2018

It’s nearly our Open Day again!  And this time there are a number of exciting differences. We start the day with birdbox making with our award winning bird box designers and makers, Jacqui and Colin. They have created 700 boxes and been into 50 local schools.  Don’t miss the chance to make a lovely sturdy cheap box or bird feeder whilst enjoying the wildlife and wonderful summer wildflowers up on site. And over the road from noon  WESET (Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust) will be running the Open Day at Westmill Wind and Solar farm.  Lots of great activities for all ages, displays, performances from local schools and a chance to get up close and personal with a wind turbine.  See www.weset.org for more information.

Then in the afternoon our usual tours around the site, talks and refreshments will be happening. A chance to find out about green burial or simply sit in the sun with a nice cup of tea and get chatting to people.  We will have lots of free resources available too. 

I have just got back from touring around for Dying Matters week visiting a number of hospices and conferences with my show Outside the Box – A Live show about Death.  It has been inspiring to meet people with so many different experiences to share and to hear about new initiatives. The one that really caught my attention was in Cornwall where Macmillan have teamed up with the local South West Ambulance Service and have been working with them to look at what happens when someone is very near end of life is at home and an ambulance gets called.  Lynn Dunne (Macmillan Cancer Care Facilitator)  explained that even when you hear a family say “You’ve got to do something, get them into hospital.” it is wise to pause and listen to the underlying message which might actually be – “We are frightened, it is the middle of the night, we don’t know what to do. Help!”  In other words the request for a hospital transfer is made in the face of feeling helpless and not knowing what else might be done.  It has also often true that paramedics feel that hospital may be the best destination too and this can often lead to people rushed from home into hospital, waiting for admission and then dying within twenty-four hours or a very short space of time even when they had wanted to die at home.  With some in depth training from palliative care experts ambulance staff reported a greatly increased confidence around making someone comfortable at home and leaving families feeling in charge of the situation again and reassured.   If breathing, nausea or pain issues can be dealt with then there is no need for all the upheaval of a trip to hospital and it can relieve pressure on overworked A & E departments.   I would like to see this training rolled out nationwide.  It does not mean you will not be taken into hospital if everyone wants that even when they know the alternatives.

I was also very impressed with the way the St Wilfred’s hospice in Eastbourne had persuaded the general public to come through their doors before they actually had to.  Their beautiful building is full of light, original art and openings into their quiet lush garden but what has made the big difference is probably their location – right next to a large Sports Centre, Sainsbury’s and other large stores.  With a large sign at their entrance they attract people to come over for lunch in their café after the big shop and running groups stop by for a post run breakfast.  You might even find someone serenading you on the piano.  Hospices are beautiful, inspiring places and it was wonderful to see people finding out about that before circumstances meant they had not choice and I know it is something many hospices strive to achieve. 

Another date for you diaries is in Oxford at the Penultimate Picture Palace on Thursday June 14th at 6.30.  A film called A Love that Never Dies https://alovethatneverdiesfilm.com/.  Liz is introducing the makers of this excellent documentary and chairing the post film conversation -  Jane Harris and Jim Edmondson used their skills as therapist and filmmaker when their own son was killed in a road accident.