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The Rollercoaster of life...
Review of 2011
Member Name: bluejules
Review of 2011
Advantages: Good times
Disadvantages: Bad times
I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my 2011 which was quite a personal rollercoaster! Quite simply; the best and worst year of my life! This has turned into a rather long review, but I hope you enjoy it!
== January ==
For the first January of my 4 year Speech and Language Therapy degree, we had no exams. We did have numerous assignments plus a dissertation though, so January still started off the year as pretty stressful!
I did manage to fit in some time for fun though! I took my cousins 14 year old daughter to see JLS 'Outta this World' tour at the arena in Newcastle and we both had a fantastic night!
As a student representative for my course I was invited to a talk about Giving Voice, from someone from Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Giving Voice (as you may already be aware) is a campaign, led by the RCSLT, to raise awareness of the valuable role of Speech and Language Therapists. I really enjoyed this talk and subsequently became very involved in the campaign because Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives
My dad turned 50 at the end of the January so we went out for a family meal at a local Greek restaurant that we'd never tried but heard was lovely. It lived up to the good praise we heard about it and we had a very enjoyable evening. A nice way to end, what was otherwise a very stressful month!
== February ==
My Cousin, Claire, turned 30 in February so we went down to London with Claire's sister, Kirsty, for a long weekend to celebrate. We stayed in a little hotel near King's Cross and spent our time exploring and clubbing. Kirsty's boyfriend lives in London and he took us to a different club each night (Tiger Tiger, Aura, and a Cuban bar in Camden - quite a mix!). We also went shopping in Harrods, visited the zoo, went on the London Eye and just generally explored. We had a great time; although I was exhausted when I returned, I had to launch straight back into uni work!
A large group of us went out in Newcastle in fancy dress for Claire's birthday when we returned. This was another great night, and a welcome break from my dissertation.
== March ==
Most of March saw me at home writing up my dissertation. As it was intervention based, I only finished collecting data 4 weeks before the deadline so it was quite a quick turn around and proved to be a very stressful experience!
One of the 3rd year students organised a flashmob in Newcastle city centre to raise awareness of Giving Voice and Speech and Language Therapy. I went along to support it with my parents (taking photos), Claire, Kirsty and my nephews. The event had a good turn out and it made it into the Evening Chronicle newspaper (regional).
== April ==
I finally got rid of my dissertation when I handed it in on 6th April (2 days before deadline!). We had an 'end of dissertation celebration' night out in Newcastle and I stayed over at one of my friends flats to save the £26 fare home. We had a brilliant night and the following morning I went on Metro Radio to promote Giving Voice (no one could tell I was functioning on just 4 hours sleep and it was a successful phonecall) - we got a number more 'likes' on our Support Giving Voice Campaign page on facebook.
I also attended some training to become a Giving Voice Champion. This was aimed at us taking the campaign forward in our area and also to encourage us to take the lead in contacting our local MPs and councillors. Following this training I wrote to my MP to explain the campaign and to request a meeting to discuss this further.
I travelled to Leeds for the day with two of friends from university and we attended the RCSLT Student Study Day. This was a really interesting day and I learnt a lot. After the study day we did a little bit of shopping and went for a meal before getting the train back to Newcastle.
Easter was a nice family occasion. I organised a mini egg hunt for my nephews and niece and then we all went out for a meal at Amaretto (the Italian restaurant that is practically next door to us). I remember watching the Royal Wedding and feeling particularly proud to be British.
== May ==
I started my final block placement straight after the Easter holidays. It was a paediatric placement based in Hartlepool (a 50 mile journey from my house). It was the most stressful 6 weeks ever but I learnt a lot and really enjoyed it. I had my own regular caseload of 5 children plus I saw lots of other children for assessments and reviews.
I went to see Take That at the Stadium of Light with my parents, sister, auntie and cousins and we all had an amazing time!
June saw me sitting my final (ever?!) exams. The Graduation Ball took place on the night of my final exam and it was at Newcastle Race Course. It was such a brilliant way to end the four years of stress that was our course. About 18 (out of 28) girls from my course went and there was a sit down meal, fairground rides, as much candyfloss as we could eat, and a DJ set from Scott Mills.
The day after Graduation Ball I met my MP (following the letter I wrote to him in April) to discuss Giving Voice and Speech and Language Therapy. It was a very productive meeting and he learnt a lot about what SLTs do (he said previously he knew very little). I was proud that I was able to increase his knowledge and awareness of the profession. I also left the matrix evidence report with him which demonstrates that Speech and Language Therapy saves £765million per year. I was the first Giving Voice champion to have a 1:1 with my MP so RCSLT did a telephone interview with me for the monthly Bulletin, to encourage others to do the same.
A couple of weeks after my final exam I received an email from my personal tutor informing me that I achieved a 2.1 in my degree and I was absolutely delighted.
I arranged a stall at a local Street Fair in my home town where we gave out Giving Voice balloons, leaflets and stickers to raise awareness of the campaign. We also had a tombola and raised money for the North East Trust for Aphasia (a charity based at Newcastle University which helps people with Aphasia - communication difficulties following brain injury such as a stroke). We raised lots of awareness and £350 for NETA.
== July ==
At the beginning of July my Grandma got taken into a home. We were all upset by this, especially my granddad. It's the last thing my grandma would have wanted but she was being looked after well enough and seemed content. We all visited regularly.
I went to see 'Scouting for Girls' with my older sister, Joanne at Tynemouth Priory as part of the Mouth of the Tyne Festival. It rained lots and we got soaked through, but the rain stopped in time for SFG coming on stage and we soon dried off and warmed up! It was a really good night, even the rain didn't spoil it too much!
I organised another stall at another Street Fair in my home town, this time my local MP came along to show his support and I subsequently got a photo and writing printed in our local newspaper. We raised an additional £150, making our total £500.
July was also the month of my Graduation. I still can't believe that I finally made it to the end of the course! Graduation was a lovely day. The sun shone, and my parents and sister came to the ceremony. My brother-in-law and the children came into Newcastle after the ceremony so I could get photos with them. This was a lovely surprise as I wasn't expecting them! On the evening of my graduation, we all went to Amaretto for a family meal and the waiters made me stand on a chair and make a speech. They then gave me a complimentary shot of flaming sambuca! After the meal we let off a Sky Lantern and I made a wish. It was a truly wonderful day and I felt privileged to have spent the day with my amazing family, as I wouldn't have got through the course if it wasn't for them.
Every year we have a family get together at my uncle's house, which is a chance for us all to see each other. We usually have a bouncy castle for the children but it rained last year so we couldn't get it out. We were all squashed inside the house but still had a brilliant time seeing everyone!
I visited one of my uni friends in Durham and stayed overnight at her house. We went out in Durham on the night time, then the next day we went for lunch, then on a river cruise which was lovely.
== August ==
I went to Beamish Open Air Museum with my auntie, uncle and Kirsty. It was the first time I had been in years and we had a lovely day.
For the first time ever, my parents and I went on holiday with my sister, brother-in-law and the children. We went to Tenerife and had a fantastic week. We spent our days by the pool or on the beach and the evenings dining out or taking part in the family quiz. I would love for the 8 of us to go on holiday again but I don't know if it will be this year.
I started training to be a volunteer mentor with Northumberland Youth Offending service. I really enjoyed the training and learnt a lot. I'm interested in the links between language and behaviour so thought this would be a good area to develop some of my skills.
== September ==
On Thursday 1st September I went to visit my Grandma in the home (like I did often) and she seemed to be in a really good mood. It was the happiest I'd seen her in a while, although her communication has been poor for a long time, she smiled at me and held my hand. I showed her a photo that I had on my phone of us from my second Christmas and she said 'lovely baby'. She didn't seem to know that the baby was also the 22 year old sitting in front of her but I didn't mind because it reminded me of the wonderful grandma that was there when I was growing up. I went home in a good mood knowing that she was happy and content.
Sadly that was the last time I ever saw my Grandma alive as we got a phone call in the early hours the next morning to say she was being taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack, and sadly there wasn't anything they could do. Naturally we were all devastated, but I took comfort in the fact that she was so happy the last time I saw her. As she had Alzheimer's, I feel like I've been grieving for her bit by bit over the last 4 or 5 years, as the grandma I knew as a child was slowly disappearing from us.
I was booked to go to Amsterdam on the ferry with Claire and Kirsty on the Monday. I didn't know whether I should go or not, but as the funeral wasn't until the Friday, I decided that I should go. It was nice to get away for a couple of days and we had an enjoyable break. It was rather eventful though, on the first night a girl went overboard, so we were naturally shocked about that! Luckily they found her alive. We were a little late in arriving at Amsterdam the next so we had less time there than planned but we still had time to go for lunch and do a little bit of shopping. It rained the whole time we were there though so we got soaked! The sea was rough on the way home that night and we all got sea sick so unfortunately didn't make use of the night life. However, it was nice to get away from home for a couple of days and I enjoyed spending time with Claire and Kirsty :-)
My sister lives near the 11 mile mark of the Great North Run and my brother-in-law was running, so we set up a stall giving out orange segments, and jelly babies. My sister and I wore our Giving Voice t-shirts to raise awareness and I had a big banner (with the aim of getting it on TV). My parents caught a glimpse of us on TV when they were watching from home, but I don't think that you'd have spotted us if you weren't looking. It rained most of the time we were outside and we got drenched but the smiles on the faces of the runners as we gave them some oranges or jelly babies made it totally worthwhile. It was lovely to see how grateful everyone was that we were standing there with oranges and jelly babies, even people that didn't want any seemed to be motivated by us being there. I always said that I'd run the GNR one day, but as running really isn't my thing I think my forte is giving out oranges instead! I would definitely do it again as it was so rewarding.
== October ==
At the beginning of October I went to a local ladies Over 50's club and gave a talk about Giving Voice. I organised a fun quiz and gave out chocolates and pens. I also arranged for a speech and language therapist to come along and play a song on her ukulele, which she had written herself about speech and language therapy. It was an enjoyable afternoon and I got some more publicity in local press.
On 17th October I travelled to London with my parents ready to meet my MP as part of a Mass Mobilisation on 18th October. We stayed in a lovely hotel in St James' and bumped into David Hasselhoff in the lift and he was lovely! We went to see Shrek the Musical on the Monday night and it was brilliant.
On the Tuesday I went to meet my MP in the Houses of Parliament and it was one of the most exciting days of my life. Whilst waiting for my MP I saw the Speakers Procession go into the house. It was quite exciting seeing John Bercow in person (after learning about the Bercow review at university). My MP and I sat outside on a patio area looking out onto the Thames and we drank tea whilst discussing the importance of speech and language therapy. It was such a fantastic experience and I felt proud to be part of the profession. More than 250 SLT's travelled to London for mass mobilisation and 90 individual MP lobbies took place.
On the evening of the Mass Mobilisation, I attended the RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards ceremony where I was awarded 'Outstanding Contribution to Speech and Language Therapy' for my work with Giving Voice. This was the most fantastic night of my life as I got to meet fellow speech and language therapists (some of which I've read their published work), MPs, John Bercow, Gareth Gates and Mark Logue (grandson of Lionel - The Kings Speech Therapist). Everyone was so lovely and I was overwhelmed to be there with some truly amazing people.
In November I started some voluntary work with a local speech and language therapy service 2 days a week. I'm really enjoying it and hope the experience I gain here will help me to stand out at interview and lead to me getting a job!
After arranging to hold a communication chain across Gateshead Millennium Bridge on a mid-November day I was slightly concerned that it would be cold, windy, foggy and raining. I warned everyone to wrap up warm and be prepared for any inclement weather; so I was extremely pleased to see glorious sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. There certainly wasn't any Fog on the Tyne on this occasion! The lack of cloud cover meant there was a bit of a bite to the air but the sun was surprisingly warm for November. We couldn't have wished for nicer weather and it was an enjoyable morning.
In October, I started attending a ukulele group at a local pub (following inspiration from my SLT Uke playing friend). We performed in front of a small audience the week before Christmas, playing a few Christmas songs and some of the songs we'd been practising in the group. I'm still not very good yet but I enjoyed being alongside the other people playing their Ukes.
My parents took me to see Legally Blonde the musical at the Sunderland Empire as a surprise as part of my Christmas present. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it :-)
Christmas was lovely. My sister, brother-in-law and the children came to our house on Christmas Day (for the first time since my 14-year-old nephews first Christmas) and we went to Amaretto for Christmas lunch with my parents and granddad. It was a lovely atmosphere and one of the waiters dressed up as Santa and gave all the children a gift bag filled with sweets.
New Year was quiet this year, a family meal in the house on New Years Eve followed by a game of Trivial Pursuit (from our Christmas Crackers!).
== My Year - Conclusion ==
I spent a long of time with family and friends in 2011 and finally graduated from university. It makes me sad that my grandma didn't understand that I'd graduated but I know that my grandma (the one that was there when I was growing up) would have been so proud of me and I'd like to think that wherever she is now, she still is proud, not only of me but of my whole family.
I'm still working part time as a receptionist to earn a bit of money while searching for a speech and language therapy job. I knew 2011 was a busy year, but I didn't realise just quite how much I'd done until I started to write about it! If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
== Things I'd like to achieve in 2012 ==
*Get a Speech and Language Therapy job!
*Learn to play a song on my Ukulele
*Do something I've never done before
*~*~* For Grandma - the woman who taught me that life's not always easy or fair but we have to fight for what we believe in - and we've got to laugh or else we'll cry! *~*~*
Happy New Year - hope it's a happy and healthy one for you and your loved ones!
Thanks for reading! bluejules
Summary: What a year!