Wednesday, 10 May 2017



I came across this recent quote from the last living Nuremberg Prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz, which connected with me powerfully on a number of levels. 

Firstly: that of the global, my despair and disappointment in where we have reached as humanity is something I’ve referred to before in these Blogs. And how people are finding different ways to refuse to be discouraged – ways that often look different to those of the past, that look like new shoots (appropriate in this spring season).

Secondly (and I’m sure not unrelated) in relation to the emergent conversation on Mental Health, highlighted in no small way by the younger generations of Royals in this country (demonstrating so clearly how mental strife knows no boundaries). One of my most admired friends has just written movingly about his own experiences with Mental Health over the last few years (

I truly admire this man as he is professionally at the top of his game and has the courage to speak, to and in no way be discouraged from, speaking of his struggles. That’s true leadership, inspiration and vulnerability in action.

Thirdly and close at home for me; the courage not to be discouraged as I face my own hiccups, fears and failures in the writing of Women of Wit, Wisdom & Wonder: Women Who Inspire. Random conversations remind me of the ‘why bother’ (so important as I sit glued with apprehension staring at the computer screen). 

Opportunities bring forth ever more astonishing tales – such as the woman at the recent Business and Professional Women's National Conference ( Scroll down to find me the ‘after dinner speaker’ on the first evening. Quite daunting given they had been in inspiring, energising and challenging sessions since 9.00am that morning and I was beginning at 9.40pm!

After sharing some of the things for which women could be put in an asylum at the end of the 19th century (including novel reading; over-action of the mind; deranged masturbation; supressed masturbation (!); domestic trouble – the list goes on…) the redoubtable BPW set to sharing who had inspired them. Cue a story from a French member – recalling her grandmother berating a German Officer, in German, thus getting her family (the speaker was small at the time and remembered it well) moved to safety from hiding in a basement into the chateau in which the Germans were billeted.

Again I'm brought to reflect on the stories told to me by the women I’ve interviewed and
 been in conversation with. So often they themselves and the women who have inspired them had lived this ‘courage not to be discouraged’. Oona King (our second Black women MP, now in the House of Lords) spoke of her Southern American grandmother who, refusing to be discouraged by colour or lack of educational opportunities actually obtained a university degree, going on to establish an early years programme which was an almost exact precursor to the Sure Start Programmes Oona herself many years later helped develop and champion as an MP (universally acknowledged as one of the most successful programmes of intervention in early years care we (in the UK) have seen).

Also living the courage not to be discouraged were the dancing Gugus (grannies) from Kaylisha who yet again came to mind through my recent experience with the joining ‘ together Dance for Fun’ and Werca’s Folk (

Recent Readings:
  • East West Street – Philippe Sands (a journey revealing a family’s hidden history… Nuremberg, coincidence, inhumanity and awesome humanity)
  • Everywoman – Jess Phillips (MP)
  • Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love and Politics – Jean R Freedman (Biog)
  • Sailing Close to the Wind – Dennis Skinner (MP)

They've all brought me again to the theme of this blog - lives lived to core values, to purpose, with the courage not to be discouraged…….. 

So I am curious - what themes are emerging in your reading?

When do you call on the courage not to be discouraged? 

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding 
John O'Donohue, Conamara Blues © 2000    

 a mighty river flows...

 COMING next – an Acting workshop; stepping outside of the predictable - no doubt more in the next blog...


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