Making A Difference

What a pleasure it was to join Chair, Antoinette Young and the other members at the Yeovil Elite Business Women Club.  It was obvious to me that every member around the table was making a beneficial difference to other people’s businesses and lives.  The range of benefits was huge: hints on how to improve cash flow when paying our taxes, using essential oils to affect health and mindset, award nominations for those involved with the Armed Services Covenant, dream trips to Spain complete with concierge service, the best Sunday lunches for miles around, and the importance of lasting power of attorney for health and welfare.  I left feeling better informed, educated, and uplifted.


Changing Children’s Lives

One member, Jane Donnelly, working on behalf of Action Medical Research, was expanding that ‘making a difference’ to affect the lives of children, especially throughout the UK. In a special 10-minute presentation, Jane explained the story and successes of the charity so far.

Action Medical Research was founded in 1962 by Duncan Guthrie, a distraught parent whose daughter had contracted polio when only 20 months old.  Polio had become an epidemic in the 1950s and into the 1960s.  Duncan experienced first-hand the need for more research and the impact of the lack of treatment centres.  Joining the funding of research into a cure for Polio, the charity expanded its good work once the UK Polio Vaccine had all but wiped out this scourge.  (Polio still exists.  There’s a 99% reduction worldwide, though the work needs to continue since, unchecked, it could return.)

Other successes followed. Here are a few.  1) Funding the development of research into ultrasound scanning for babies – now routine.  2) The creation of the Matrix seat – a modular system that can grow with the child, helping prevent sores and other discomforts.  3) Supporting the research that now has resulted in pregnant women taking folic acid supplements to prevent spina bifida in 7 out of 10 cases.  4) Finally, there are less than 20 cases of rubella a year in our country.  Rubella epidemics were commonplace until the development of successful vaccines – the testing of which was part-funded by Action Medical Research.

There are currently 65 ongoing projects including research into the dramatic increase of Crohn’s Disease in children.

How encouraging it is to realise that we can directly impact the search for more vaccines, inventions, and interventions that improve children’s lives.  Jane offered us the opportunity to get involved through a series of local events ranging from Fashion Shows (4thApril), Cream Teas (24thJune), through to the Diva Lunch on 18thOctober.  Having been delighted by the Paddington film over Christmas, I was so pleased to hear that Paddington was the mascot for the charity – supported for so many years by Michael Bond.  Michael’s daughter, Karen, is one of the trustees.  Let’s remember, too, people like Jane – whose support now spans 38 years! Think of her when she will be aiming to provide 10,000 Cream Teas this year!


“Ah yes!  I remember it well!”

So sang Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in the musical, “Gigi!”  The song is a delightful exploration of his inaccurate recall of their early romance.  As a guest speaker, I took the opportunity to share the easiest and most practical memory system I use to boost my besieged memory on a regular basis.  I say, “besieged,” because we are being bombarded with information now that would interfere with the very best of memories.  We need help!  One day’s worth of information in the 21stCentury is more than our 15thcentury ancestors would have been exposed to in a lifetime.

I asked the group, “Where are you, what time of day, and what are you doing, when you have your best ideas?”

The answers are held in common with professionals around the world: driving the car, in the bathroom, in bed!  It seems our peak performing brain wakes up when we do and only ceases to function well when we get to work!

To capture these thoughts and ideas that flow best in inconvenient places and at awkward times, I recommended using a cloakroom for the mind – a place to hang the thoughts on pegs until we were in a position to write them down.

The system is inspired by the hooks in many nursery schools where pictures are used instead of numbers. Our hooks were created by rhyming the numbers 1-10 with a strong image, thus:

1 represented by a bun

2 by shoes

3 by a tree

4 by a door

5 by a hive

6 by sticks

7 by heaven – whatever you see for ‘heaven’

8 by a gate – a five-bar gate for most of us

9 by wine or a vine, and

10 by a hen.

Once chosen, these images never change since we need to know and recall them without hesitation.  The group then came up with 10 actions we needed to take that day.  Within minutes, we were able to recall the actions, through association, in any order. In a sense, the system works like random access memory.

Aside from the confidence boost that comes from being able to remember actions, the technique is very good for mental health, enabling the brain to become ever more powerful and effective the more we exercise it.

Join the Group

The next meeting of the Elite Business Women Club in Yeovil is on Tuesday, 12thFebruary – with a booking link on this site.

Written by Lex McKee from The Boardroom Education