Category Archives: About Me

Happy New Year

There are many diary formats including the standard 12 month (Jan-Dec) diary and the ‘academic’ (Aug-July) diary (some nice ones listed here). So for many of those who work or study within universities the traditional New Year (or Hogmanay) celebrations simply mark a mid-point. Indeed many academics find themselves working through the festive period either marking, prepping for the next term / semester, completing grant applications (many of which inexcusably have deadlines early in January), writing research papers or editing / reviewing.

So for those who live by the ‘academic’ year the 1 September marks the beginning of a ‘new year’. There will be freshers coming with excitement and perhaps some trepidation about commencing their studies; there will be students returning to study, looking forward to their new courses and anxious to achieve good grades; there will be returning academics keen to try out new course materials and looking forward to meeting new students; and many others who either work with or are associated with universities ready to start the new year.

For me it is a particularly exciting time as I’m starting a new post as Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership and Management at Northumbria University. Northumbria is one of the top 50 universities in the UK and it’s Business School is double accredited with AACSB making it one of the top Business Schools in the world. Along with being an outstanding institution and having a world-leading Business School the university has a long history of public administration scholarship. Former members of staff include the late Professor Howard Elcock. Currently there are many public administration scholars working at the university and they are due to host the JUC Public Administration Committee Annual Conference and Doctoral Workshop from 10-12 September this year. I’m really looking forward to helping them expand their teaching and research in public leadership and management in my new role.

Whatever you are doing this academic year I wish you all the very best. Happy New Year!

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One Week To Go

It’s been a tough summer. Lots of ups and downs. A fair amount of pain. At last there’s only one week to go. I really couldn’t have got through this without a lot of support from family and friends. But finally it’s almost over.

Since April I’ve been taking part in the Running Down Dementia Challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The challenge was to run 100km and raise £100 by 31 August. Having done no running in four years I figured it would be a big challenge but that I might be able to do it.

Please give here: https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4#

Initially I started run-walk-run and the first few weeks were really tough. A group of friends started a Sunday morning run and this really helped keep my motivation up. What also helped was the huge amount of generosity from friends and family in donating to my fundraising page. With every pound donated I ran a little further and tried a little harder. Soon I was able to run my first 10k in quite a few years. It wasn’t easy – but I did it.

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My fundraising total kept going up and local press were very kind in raising the profile of my challenge. Thanks to the Edinburgh Evening News and the Ballymoney Times in particular for featuring my story. I’ve also received very generous support from Newbridge Financial Planning and even my aunts have helped in the fundraising efforts in my hometown of Ballymoney. It’s been a big team effort!

Help fund research into prevention, treatment and cures for the diseases that cause dementia here: https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4#

All the time I’ve been thinking about my mum and others in her position who are living with dementia. While she is happy I know that there is so much more she would want to do. Living with dementia has really restricted what she can do in her retirement years and it has been difficult for all the family. Right now there are 850,000 families in the UK facing similar challenges. Alzheimer’s Research UK fund research into treatments, prevention and cures for the diseases that cause dementia. Every pound donated will support this effort.

At the start of this journey I was hoping to run 100km and raise £100. With one week to go I’ve ran 227km and raised £2134.80. I am hugely grateful to all my 87 donors and with every step I run I can feel 87 people cheering me on. It’s an incredible feeling.

It has been a tough summer. There has been a fair amount of pain, blisters and sore legs! But I’ve loved it. And it’s not over yet. So please, if you can give anything to help fund the amazing work of Alzheimer’s Research UK click on the link below and give what you can.

Thank you!

https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4#

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My mum

My mum and dad married in 1965. Soon after they bought a small cottage just outside the town of Ballymoney. My dad has often recalled the time my mum first saw their new home – she cried. It was, by all accounts, a complete ramshackle with lots of damp and wallpaper peeling off the walls. They had bought two cottages that sat side by side with the goal of putting them together into one modern bungalow. In the meantime they lived in a cold and damp 1960’s caravan in the garden.

 

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My mum worked in the NHS. She attended training in Belfast. She was respected and liked by all staff in the Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ballymoney. By all accounts she was on the fast track to a senior administration post in the health service. During the day she would work in the hospital and at night would help my dad, uncles and friends to convert the two old cottages into a modern 1970’s bungalow.

In 1973 my brother came along. There was no maternity leave entitlement back then – which meant she had to leave her job in the NHS. Instead she took up a part-time position in the nearby rural sub-post office.

My brother started primary school and then I came along. My mum was by now sub-post mistress and looked after us during the day alongside running a very busy sub-post office and shop.

I remember people queuing outside the post office early in the mornings. It would often be opened before 8am and seemed to never shut. When it was shut people would ring the doorbell. Day and night mum would always answer – always putting her customers and the community before all else, fuelled by a bottomless tea cup.

Holidays were restricted by the needs of the post office. So Bank Holidays would be used in order to get a long weekend. Every now and again there would be a trip to Scotland or to different parts of Northern Ireland. But we’d always have to be back in time for opening the post office. Sick days were even rarer. The post office really never shut.

Any money that was saved went to furthering mine and my brothers education. Piano lessons, singing lessons, private tuition, Encyclopedia Britannia (Google it). Anything that would help us succeed in life.

As if all of this wasn’t enough public service my mum also gave blood. She donated blood for many years and received a Gold Badge for donating over 50 times.

In the late 1990’s the post office was robbed. Masked men entered the house. My mum was tied up with cables pulled from the back of our old TV set. A gun held at her head. But she wouldn’t give away the keys to the safe and instead tricked the masked gunmen into sounding the alarm. They were caught. The gang leader was son of a lottery winner. He got five years in prison – out in three.

My mum continued to serve the community. A new alarm system and safe were installed at personal expense. We got a dog.

My mum continued to run the post office for many years while both me and my brother moved out, went to university, got jobs, families. Over time her memory started to fade. Then her mood changed. Then things that she’d always done, like washing the kitchen floor every night, stopped being done. I didn’t notice at first. Then it became hard to ignore. Running the post office eventually became impossible. After forty years of continuous service it closed.

Later, even living at home became impossible. Too dangerous, and too onerous on my dad, who had his own health problems to manage. She now lives happily in an amazing care home (paid for by her pension and life savings). It’s not a life she choose. It’s a life dictated by Alzheimer’s Disease.

My mum doesn’t have the retirement she deserves after more than 50 years of working life. She hasn’t got to know the grandchildren she always wanted. She doesn’t get to play and look after them as she would like. The crippling nature of dementia has stripped all that away. She is happy, happiest in the company of visitors, and there are still wonderful moments of clarity and lucidity. But so much has been lost.

Looking back now I can’t help think of the endless sacrifices she made but at the same time I know that to her it wasn’t sacrifice – it was love. This is why I am raising money for Alzheimer’s Research. For every £1 donated 84p goes towards research to fight dementia. It may be too late for my mum but hopefully the work of Alzheimer’s Research UK will help millions of people in the future.

Please donate to my fundraising page listed below. Every pound helps. Thank you.

https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4

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