Dales Tales Anthology Launch

I’ve just come back from an exciting time at Newholme Hospital. The Dales Tales poetry anthology has now been officially launched! With a gathering of patients, hospital staff, the Friends of Newholme Hospital, and some dignitaries from Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire Community Health Services, we introduced the project, read some of the poems, gave out copies of the beautiful looking anthologies, and enjoyed a good buffet!

You can buy the book here, as a paperback or an e-book! Just click this link. All the proceeds go to the Friends Of Newholme Hospital.

The hospital also officially unveiled the sculptures that staff and patients have been making to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War One. The patients have been working on a statue of a soldier and a nurse, to represent the work of Newholme Hospital as an auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers.

Guests at the launch were invited to write lines of poetry for the soldier and the nurse:


The Soldier

I never knew what my paternal grandfather looked like.

He looks deep in thought.

I hope you recover from your vital but difficult time-service.

I hope you get home safe to be with your family and friends.


The Nurse

The uniform looks very smart, but I’m glad I don’t have to wear the hat.

Thank goodness we do not have to do your horrific training, to look after the sick.

It must be heartbreaking, seeing so many young men

Whose lives and dreams are shattered.

As you dry their tears,

I hope that someone comforts you too…


The Story of Private William Henry Rowbottom

The soldier is not anonymous.Riverside Ward’s Occupational Therapist Lorraine Turner has written this wonderful introduction to him, and what he means for the hospital:

“Hello, I have been given the fictional name of Private William Henry Rowbottom. I have been created by the patients and staff on Riverside Ward as part of the Newholme Hospital commemoration project to mark the 100th anniversary of WWI. This seems especially fitting, as Newholme Hospital in Bakewell was one of the WWI auxiliary hospitals (60 beds), set up to care for the thousands of wounded soldiers returning from the Front.

Well, suddenly, I appear to have risen up through the “ranks” from a mere Private to “ambassador”, almost overnight! An ambassador for patient experience, especially for those who have dementia.

My role, on this occasion, is hopefully to make an important contribution to helping Health Professionals, carers and families to recognise how opportunities to participate in creative expression are essential to those people who have dementia, in order for them to continue to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives.

In particular, I want to highlight how my “creators” were given the opportunity to work alongside their peers and the ward staff, to achieve a common goal, i.e. creating me! The wider goal, most importantly, is to honour those who served and died in World War One. This “collective and community” approach, generated a creative energy that actually allowed the Riverside patients to do and subsequently achieve things that perhaps, if they had been approached to do on their own, might have struggled to do. Riverside believes that this is an illustration of the power of connectedness and belonging.

I hope that by story that we can enthuse and inspire others to embrace the Arts and promote opportunities for creativity across all healing and care environments, promoting not just innovative interaction, but also a sense of community, vitality and sense of belonging.

I ask only one thing of my “readers”, and that simply is that they consider dismissing the term disability when considering dementia, and embrace creativity and think of the possibilities that can be unlocked and developed when we consider what Kitwood (1997) referred to as “Rementing”, for his theory that a nourishing care environment can create new brain growth and capabilities even in the face of advancing dementia.”

For further information, please contact the therapy team on Riverside Ward. Tel 01629 817962. or email Lorraine.turner@dchs.nhs.uk or Alexandra.green@dchs.nhs.uk


The Dales Tales Poetry Anthology is out now!

Dales Tales Createspace cover

I’ve been working hard on the Dales Tales poetry anthology – putting the poems together and editing them, working on the artwork, layout and the graphic design. It’s been hard work, but lots of fun, and now I’m looking forward to the launch at the hospital next week, on Tuesday 29th July at Newholme Hospital, where I’ll find out what the patients, staff and volunteers at Newholme think about their words being in print.

300 copies of the anthology are being printed out, which will be given out to the patients and staff who’ve contributed to the project, and they’ll also be distributed to key locations in the local community. I’ll be running workshops in other hospitals around Derbyshire in the autumn, based on the anthologies, and patients and staff in those hospitals will also receive copies.

But I’ve also been working hard on a version of the anthology for sale as a paperback, and on Kindle too! You can buy a copy from wherever you are in the world. All royalties from the sales of the book will go to the Friends of Newholme Hospital, and it will make an excellent gift.

All you need to do is to click this link! BUY THE DALES TALES ANTHOLOGY HERE!

And if you could review the book on the Amazon site, that would be great.

Here’s a little taste of the anthology…

The Truth About Love Is…


Before Valentine’s Day 2014, we looked at the history of this now rather over-hyped event and read the WH Auden poem ‘O Tell Me the Truth About Love’. Here are our replies!


The truth about love is…

Kissing goodbye every day,
Cleaning the fire out,
Making cups of tea.
Waiting for your other half to come home.

A chippy tea,
Taking turns to drive,
Smiley face salads,
A cosy cuddle, holding hands (if forced!)

There’s something in the eyes:
A bit of banter,
Our own brand of humour.
Love is something that you miss when they’re not there

And it’s unconditional.
Especially with the children.
An ever-changing relationship,
In sad times,
Memories can always bring happiness.

The closeness of jiving –
At the Regal in Ripley.
I caught you safely,
And we danced through the night.

“Don’t call it love if it’s not the thing that starts the flame in your heart”

Henry the Eighth had six wives,
But he was a bit of a lad.
He cut off their heads with a scythe,
Made up his rules and was quite bad!

But you always hear about Valentine’s Day.
There must be something in this Romance lark!
Having a lovely missus is the way.
But how to make love – we were in the dark!

But when your partner’s snoring in bed,
You just want to give them a push,
Or knock a lemonade bottle over their head.
“Please will you give it some hush!”

My magical husband…
I wish he was back again…

Macbeth – as performed by the patients of a WWI rehabilitation hospital

On Saturday, a friend invited me to an open-air Shakespeare performance at Sheffield’s botanical gardens. Macbeth, performed by Heartbreak productions.

It was one of those wonderful moments of serendipity to discover that the setting and “framing device” for this production was a World War One rehabilitation hospital. Using a pared-down cast, supplemented by an atmospheric choir for background atmosphere and sound effects, the cast of professional actors were playing the parts in Macbeth via the characters of the patients, soldiers recovering from physical and mental trauma, and the efficient but kindly Nurse Ruth Jones.

Before the play started, the patients and their nurse introduced themselves: gallant, troubled Captain Laurence Smith, who recited poetry about his experiences of the First World War, jovial Private Charlie Thompson, and lovable buffoon, gardening expert Major Cecil Harvey. This introduction set the scene for Macbeth as a “play within a play”, and enabled the audience to see the value of the therapy that the hospitals provided: woodwork, literature, gardening and country air to sooth traumatized minds and bodies.

It was an excellent setting for the play, and made me think about the soldiers who recovered from their injuries at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell in the First World War. Although Newholme was officially a workhouse, a far cry from the Brighton Pavilion and the grand Clivedon estate, the fresh country air and the peace of the Derbyshire Dales must have seemed like a miracle after the madness, mud and misery of the trenches.


Walkley's Well Dressing Commemorates the First World War

Walkley’s Well Dressing Commemorates the First World War

And I’ve been to see the well dressing at St Mary’s in Walkley, the suburb of Sheffield where I live. In the First World War, our area of terraced houses and hills would have been densely packed and very close-knit. The loss of fathers, brothers and sons in the First World War would have hit the community  very hard. This year’s well dressing commemorates the young men lost in that war. The Walkley Community Centre, a beautiful Edwardian building, has a stained glass window with a list of Walkley men who were killed in the First World War, which is being restored and re installed this year.