April’s member of the month is Helen!
Tell us your origin story: where are you from and what made you the person you are today?
So I’m 34 and I was born in Bolton. That’s “ooop north” and makes me a pint drinking and hotpot eating Lanky!
In all seriousness, northeners and especially Lancastrians don’t suffer fools gladly and they say it like it is! However we are the type who will “feight or sup w’anyone” aka we take everyone at face value and expect others to do likewise. That sort of sums me up…what you see is what you get and if you want an honest answer to a question I’m your girl!
I’ve been married to Simon since July 2015 and I’m a part time step mum to a seven year old Emily. None of our own, but we are working on it. We also have two cats and a black Lab.
I was lucky enough to be brought up in a happy home by parents (both teachers) who encouraged my sister and I to discover our own path and not be afraid to be true to ourselves and our beliefs. We were brought up in a Christian home and I do believe in God, but not organised religion…so label me as you choose if you must. I remain a staunch pacifist and believe strongly in the principle of “treating others as as you would wish to be treated”. Basically live and let live and try not to be a jerk to other people.
In terms of politics, I don’t fit into any boxes or party affiliation and I actually think coalitions are better on the whole. I really dislike the need for social labels. We are all designed individuals and I think labels and boxes lead to walls and ultimately isolation. I believe strongly in the right to freedom of speech and expression but that does mean that someone somewhere will take offense to it. It’s a hard lesson to learn that you can’t please everyone…and a lesson I’m still working on!
I knew from aged four what I wanted to do in life. That was to be a nurse and it remains my privilege to look after the folks of central Cambridge as a practice nurse in a local GP surgery. I became a Queens Nurse in 2016 which means I am part of a specialist group of community nurses who strive for excellence and leadership.
So what made me who I am….my folks, my heritage and my career.
How long have you been a Cambridge Ladybird and what brought you here?
I came to the very first Ladybirds meeting in….yikes…2012? It must be 2012 (looks sheepish) I’m useless with dates.
I had recently moved to Cambridge after a rather hideous time in my life and was being treated for depression. I had to find some friends and a way out of the house. I met Joanne Croxford at a 1940s event at Wimpole and she gave me the info….I turned up and signed up and then left (I’d been made redundant that very day) then came back for two more meetings, joined the committee and never looked back. I was programme secretary for two years, secretary for the last two years and have just been elected President. Some of the friends I have made here have been my absolute saviours and sisters and I’m so lucky to have the Ladybirds in my life. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of such an amazing group of women.
What does being in the WI mean to you?
Friendship and sisterhood.
As I’ve just said, my best friends are Ladybirds and I hope in 2017 I’ll get to know more of you even better and extend that to CamCo and beyond!
My trouble is I’m great recognising faces but have a nightmare keeping a name with the face….but I’m working on it!
I also love being part of an institution that seeks to help empower women. Now don’t get me wrong here….I’m very much NOT a feminist….I wish there was a similar institution for my hubby and my dad and I really respect the role of men in society. I’ve learnt so much about myself as well as new skills through my membership. It’s so fun and varied!
What’s a typical day in your life lately?
My alarm goes off at 6am. I start work at 8am so to avoid traffic I try to get to the gym before 7am to do some swimming.
I start seeing patients from 08.30 with 10 minutes for coffee at 10.30. Then more patients until 1pm, lunch meetings or paperwork until 2pm and then back seeing patients until 6pm.
Then either home to get dinner on or to the gym (if I didn’t go that morning) sometimes I meet hubby here so we actually get to see each other!
After dinner it’s a bit of TV, reading, knitting or maybe scrabble until 10pm and then bed.
Not very exciting but after dealing with a lot of people I go into my introvert mode and want to huddle down.
I don’t work Wednesdays so then I do my cleaning or shopping or meeting friends or family. I love Wednesday mornings though….they are my tea and book lie-ins which I will defend to the death!
Someone gives you a million pounds to spend on yourself. You can’t give it to charity or spend it on friends or family; it all has to be for you. What do you do with it?
Pay off some debts, get a reliable vehicle and a roof over our heads that belongs to us rather than the landlord.
Nothing big or exciting but we would like to find a do up with some land – chickens, ducks, a few sheep, veggie patch and a kitchen garden. Hopefully a couple of sprogs running about one day.
Simon and I have always said we would open a craft/wool shop with a tearoom in our retirement but I don’t think a million pounds stretches that far in Cambridge these days.
What are your most passionate community or activist goals?
I’m a big supporter of Endometriosis UK and I’m about to start the first support group for the whole East of England next month. I have a severe form of the condition which causes a few problems but I’m made of strong stuff.
I also try to do my bit for the environment, we try to live low waste and low plastic and have been big “food waste” avoiders even before Hugh on TV or the WI campaign. My bread scraps “bread pudding” is a family favourite.
Aliens land on earth and ask you what human life is all about. What do you tell them?
I’d say human life is about love and laughter and finding the silver lining. We are all resilient fighters in some way….We will all or have all fought for something we believe in. Humans are amazing creatures, specially designed and made top spec! We are all AWESOME!
Cake, pie, or biscuits?
Biscuits mate….. best bit of the day!
3 pm brew and biscuits. They have to be dunkers though….