Director's Blog December 2014
10th Anniversary of WMC
This year is the Tenth Anniversary of the WMC AND tenth anniversary of Touch Trust entering WMC as one of the Seven Artistic Resident Companies. We Have been celebrating........
Personally, as first Director and Founder of Touch Trust and creator of the Touch Trust Program, I have been having a ball. The saying goes, "Good things are rushing forward to meet me". I use this often to help people to be positive and have used it myself when times were difficult.
Well this celebration year good things have been rushing forward to meet me! I have been given Special Inspirational Lifetime Achievement Award from Understanding Disability Group - Consensus : the National Diversity Life Time Achievement Award and the Wales Care Forum Life Time Achievement Award for " outstanding contribution to social care in Wales".
The WMC made a film of me skydiving, featuring the Dylan Thomas poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" entitled Dare Devil Dilys, and lastly I am in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest woman skydiver in the world!
I am leaving Touch Trust as Chief Executive/Director knowing that I have brought Touch Trust to a good place, nearly half a million turn over, twenty part- time and full time staff, forty Provider Member groups (including Centres of Excellence). Over two hundred and twenty guests come to our Centre for sessions every week and our Touch Trust College of the Arts for the post nineteen transitional students with profound disabilities is now established three days a week. Ten years ago, we came into the Centre with a£50,000 grant and two staff and no established sessions.
What a different story today, what was my secret?
There is the Explosion Theory, taken from Geology .... It goes "positive energy always has a positive result, some form, some time, somewhere" and link that with the Methodist's saying "do what you can to help another, as often as you can. To who ever you can. As much as you can. Where-ever you can".
And finally, in the words of Micheal Foot ..."our only great purpose on earth is to help those less fortunate than ourselves" ....
As the Nike advert says" just do it", robust. Real. Unswerving...and in the last resort just praying for strength, wisdom, courage and love.
I look forward to seeing Touch Trust "fly" in 2015 with the new Board and our committed and selfless staff, helped by our many friends and supporters!
Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.
9th December 2013
Nelson Mandela died yesterday. (5th December, 2013) The world mourns the passing of this man, who like no other, showed the power of forgiveness and peaceful and loving negotiation.
He was in prison on Robben Island for 27 years and yet could forgive his enemies. Peace , forgiveness ,intelligence ,moral integrity and dignity won his battle for "one man one vote" in what would seem an impossible situation in South Africa.
This man has always been my hero and my inspiration. Even today when petty little things (that is all I have been asked to bear in my crusade for Touch Trust) turns me towards bitterness or self-pity, his perfection helps me again to see things in perspective and gives me power.
Even his fight to eradicate world poverty went on until his death, and now in death his power is immense.... his influence continues and becomes stronger.
In Touch Trust we fight to free individuals trapped in damaged minds and bodies. Let us take this principle of self-denial that Mandela shows us - and not rest until we reach the many, many more who can be helped by our program. Here moderation is not an option, only our best, our highest ideal, our self-sacrifice will do. Let Mandela be for us an example of what can be achieved with selfless love.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same
. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Quotation attributed to Nelson Mandela, by Marianne Williamson
In this blog I celebrate the life of someone still living
This is about my son.
Rhys was the one who helped me start Touch Trust and has been a guide and mentor ever since, doing more than any other single person to support me and my work.
At the beginnings of Touch Trust :-
-he gave us our first computer
-trained and practised as a Touch Trust session leader taking sessions in schools and day centres, here in Cardiff and in Merthyr -wrote our first business plan , -our first training and publicity leaflets
- was our first Chairman for many years
- did our market research
- was our first Chairman and remained for many years
- gained Julie Morgan 's ( our local MP ) firm support -took our first publicity to Sir Alan Cox and gained his support to be an Artistic Resident in WMC -Involved in first plans for our Centre with Architect Percy Thomas
- moved to London to take a post as support worker and to be nearer his partner
- In London he supported a man with autism and helped him run and lead conferences
- was head hunted to become Manager of Lambeth People First
-He led the team and turned their ailing fortunes about ,bringing stability and trebling their finances in three years
- his commitment to " his people" was total.
Then last year Lambeth announced they were withdrawing funding ;People First Lambeth closed down!
My son ,Rhys took them to court, eventually the High Court and won the case-a moral victory because Lambeth announced it now had no money left. But it was a moral victory, won slowly and with great personal sacrifice ,intelligence ,courage and integrity.
( This was the first time ever in the history of disability a Service User had done this - and this was Rhys's ( and his team's victory.)
I am very proud of my son, his love and his compassion to his fellows. He is now Deputy Manager for Lambeth Mencap .
He is a wonderful husband and father of a little girl , Edith ,and Sidney his baby boy.
This is the background to this prose verse I sent to Rhys...
....This is The Time
This is the time.
My heart opens,
A tsunami of love
My son’s heart also
Opens- love flows.
- Together we are
His time has come
His dark times
Yield to light and love
His tears are dried
His"Job" time passed
As mine did.
Has come to him
As it did to me
We are your light workers
You give us power and joy
We press the darkness
Where we are
Together but apart
Making a difference....
Sharing the sword of love.
A Tribute from Touch Trust.
I want to write about a wonderful woman,a friend and colleague ,who died the latter part of September while I was in India ,leaving the world a poorer place.
It was entirely because of her intervention that we got the money to come into the WMC.We owe her our place here and of course therefore we owe her our success. Touch Trust owes her so much ,we absolutely owe her our success.
This is the story.
We were without money,but invited into Wales Millennium Centre . Sir Alan Cox ,the inspirational and visionary first Chairman,had given us a place here as one of the seven Artistic Residents together with the Welsh National Opera,Diversions Dance Company ,Ty Cerdd ( music),Welsh Literature Academi, Urdd, and Hy Jinks (inclusive drama company),before even one stone had been laid. His vision was to build an iconic ,inclusive and accessible Centre that would be an inspiration to the world .
We knew our creative art of movement programme was unique and breaking new ground in the world of disability,based as it was on Laban( my teacher' s) philosophy , movement analysis and practices - and subsequently also on my own work as a lecturer over 35 years in a major PE department , at a college of higher education,teaching Dance , Adaptive PE and Creative Arts.(When I was also lucky enough to lecture as a Consultant in many parts of USA and U K.) My subsequent research on retiring had meant the establishment firstly of national validated training programmes for Art of Movement for Carers of Special Needs and Informal Dance for Special Needs and also eventually the formation of the charity, Touch Trust.
At that time Frances Medley was Acting Chief Executive at the Arts Council of Wales. As one of the Artistic Residents to be , we had gone though all the procedures for funding over the past two years from ACW and had assurances that everything was in order for our funding into WMC.
Imagine our horror when a letter arrived ,just before going into the Centre that alas there was no money left for us .Roy Campbell Moore ,founder of Diversions,who had been part of the original Residents Committee ,with us,told us to go to Frances ," she is the best- and will help ". And salvation did come through her .She wrote a letter to the Welsh Assembly ,stating our case - and to cut a long story short, they gave us the money ring fenced ,through ACW and we moved in in November 2004!
I know many individuals and organisations can tell similar stories ; Frances had wisdom,clarity and integrity and a commitment to right action.She was tireless in her help ,even at the end when her body was nearly destroyed - her spirit shone like a guiding star to change things for the better.
She was a lovely woman ,a generous friend to many ,witty ,funny and high spirited- a woman of substance and style,a clever woman ,intellectual and so attractive.
She was a power for change in the Arts in Wales in her life .Her legacy lives on ...and I believe she will be more powerful in her influence for good in her passing.Her influence will go on.
Thank you Frances , so many of us love you and also thank you.
After paying my last respects today at St. Gabriel Church Cwmbran, To Chris Hallam MBE
There are great people who change the world for the better in a significant way, who MAKE A DIFFERENCE to lives ..... CHRIS Hallam was such a one. He was a trail blazer for disabled sport and a role model, a beacon of hope to so many facing bad times. Through him, disabled sport became respected and publicised and developed.
I remember him with this energy and love of life, driving through life like a tsunami to be the best he could be in sport and on fire for others also. He and John Harris made an irresistible and incorrigible couple, full of fun, humour; irreverent and bursting with energy to achieve the best in life and sport.
I knew him because John and he with Ewart Parkinson had formed PVSH with the dream of creating an integrated Sport Centre where elite athletes, able or disabled could train together.
This was an unique concept, elevating sport out of therapy and rehabilitation (although of course It is therapeutic for everyone.) building the Centre in a Specialist Physical Education College in which they did in 2000 at ( UWIC) was a first and a turning stone and building block for what has happened since with the growth and status of the Paralympics.
And Chris did it without the network which is around today..... Determined, individual, generous and compassionate - he was always special and he had a destiny.
He was true to his destiny, fulfilled what he came on earth to do.
I loved Chris as so many touched by him did- charismatic, physically attractive and personally charming and open.
You did so much to make the world a better place, as our friend Paul Jenkins the athlete who did 99 marathons before losing his sight did. And who before that Dave Winters, the war veteran who was the first who changed perceptions through his positive attitudes, his generosity and his moral and physical courage.
As Director and Founder of Touch Trust, what do I believe in ?
This month is a very personal, subjective view. The opinions are my own and are no reflection on the official, non-religious Touch Trust.
At 81 I ought to be able to know what I think of this life I am living.
1. It is sometimes seems hard, like "a vale of tears." Other times, the sun shines and it seems a place full of beauty.
2.Courage makes it better,courage to feel one is a warrior fighting ( with others) to help where we can ,for ourselves - roof,warmth,food,security-and also for others as much as is humanly possible - without destroying oneself
3.There is a duty to survive for oneself ,and one's family- and then to look after others .
For me that seems to have been the case ,having moderate comfort for oneself and also for one 's family - but to have thought for others . In my case that means a little money given to causes like homelessness ,bullying,animal care. But the thrust has been to teach as well as I can ,bringing Wellbeing through the art of movement and through caring connection with all I teach or work with ---- AND taking the resulting program ( Touch Trust) which changes lives ,firstly to those adults and children who are VERY disabled.
I push myself to the edge and then some more ,for this.
That does make me happy .
( I would have liked to have lived somewhere beautiful ,by the sea or with a beautiful view and to have lived in a lovely house. For me this has not happened- because my focus has been elsewhere)
I am happy that I have made a difference to some of the very disabled people and their families and helpers - and still have the strength and chance to do more .This gives me a happiness that sustains me.
For me, that is enough........
As a warrior of light I have made a difference to the utmost of my ability.
(As a single mother, life has not always been easy, but I am so proud of Rhys ,who cares ,has integrity ,maturity ,love and enjoyment of life,moral strength and works magnificently for people who are disabled. I have 2 lovely ,special grandchildren ,who Rhys will bring up with the right values .All that gives me deep satisfaction! Not forgetting my beautiful daughter - in- law whom I love equally.)
I love God or the 'ultimate good' and see Christ as the absolute fulfilment of man's redemption through sacrifice. Alchemy runs through existence at every level.
I see a pattern of alchemy in the universe which makes me satisfied to be a Christian . For me, His death on the cross and Resurrection was the ultimate alchemy "miracle", redeeming mankind.
Although I believe " we see through a glass darkly" I have that deep faith in Redemption and an ultimate better world-Paradise.
So I have hope- the essential ,ultimate joy.
A tsunami running from my heart
Starting as a river
In the early years,
Moving into torrent
As we built a base.
A ledge for falling water
Rainbow edged -
Effecting change -
But not enough ;
Soon to be an ocean-
Drowning pain and
Bringing life and laughter,
Status , power,goods-
Drowning in another pain
and silent guilt.
Love lightens ,
Love brings song,
Tsunami stilled and quiet
At peace and satisfied,
My power spent.......
Others take my place
Their turn to flow
Next stage......... Next level!
CLIMB THE WATERFALL of LOVE
We are at last
A new world ,
A Universe of love.
Touch Trust session, Friday 3.00 pm
I want to share with you this Touch Trust session .Like all the sessions ,it is always a joint adventure which involves the carers too .Success is shared with them and us .
As you know no one is turned away for any reason. It was for this the Touch Trust came into existence.
We knew this session would be a challenge.
This session started badly ,with " Jonn" so stressed ,he spat and lashed out as he entered the room and remained volatile throughout the first half of this one-to-one session.
But the miracle of Touch Trust worked again!
At the end, we ALL held hands together.......smiles all around ,including Jonn!!
“That Circle of Friendship.
Gives me hope.
The session starts with kicks, fear, distance.
Two" angels” in disguise
Burly, macho, gentle,
Love in practice
But off- the- wall-
Not society’s or our clichéd expectation
But love in every action.
At first our dear friend can only
Stay in his comfort zone, defending space.
No speech, so keeping space the only way he can,
Kicks and spits
Through fear to keep his precious space.
But, as the session ends he takes my hand
The circle closed by him.
He leads a gentle swaying,
A little smile.
We echo this pause,
With visible joy for a second of eternity,
It is for moments like this
That Circle of Friendship gives me hope......
We are all content.....
…..Will sleep well again tonight.
I open my body ,limbs push out
Still flying fast but steady.
Far away I see green earth, not anymore the moving blur.
Images become larger--fields, sea, buildings .
Focus splits now, moment of madness wanting to stay
In this ecstatic world.
I have to tear my soul away from this flying joy, abandoned living-
Addict to falling journey.
Discipline must take over ,or I am dead.
So I watch my wrist ,leave this world of heaven
Focus on altimeter and fast moving hand to RED.
Another ultimate sense of sureness, another joy ,
my hand reaches to feel the leather round of safety.
I pull hard
There is a second’s death
Then I am pulled up by gravity, my descent stops.
Slow ,slow floating,
Meditative but different to the immediate past intensity
Of heightened being.
Dilys Price OBE © 2013
16th January ‘13
This was the day that my dear friend Paul Jenkins was taken into Paradise.I will not grieve for him ,because his life was a life of destiny.
He was an extraordinary human being. I met him when I was lecturing in UWIC and Paul came to visit us and talk to my sport students about his life as an athlete -doing 99 marathons ,the Ultimate Road Race in America and running up the Empire State Building; raising millions for charities ,and then in six weeks –going blind!
From then on he became a friend of myself and my students.One student ,Emma , trained with him to do a marathon ; he became a Trustee of PVSH ,who with various of my students ,staff and other disabled athletes founded the Wales Sport Centre for the Disabled and he was a founder Trustee and member of Touch Trust ,( and went on raising money for us ,for Guide Dog Association and other charities up to an amazing two million!)
What I loved about Paul is that he was a sports icon when he could see ,showing immense courage in his racing , and having become blind he was an icon to many but particularly to school children around the country. It was wonderful that he was a role model that children could admire rather than the empty caricatures that make the headlines today. They listened enthralled to his stories told with a gentle humour. He explained how he had made a life to be proud of ,to be enjoyed though hethough he had come from a place a place of despair .He gave the glory for this to God.(He had a real faith in God’s love and care.)
He showed a spiritual courage to match his physical prowess. Throughout he was humble and self effacing ,generous and warm –a man of God indeed.
I will miss you Paul ,but I will not mourn ……..
The poet and philosopher Gibran wrote about the beauty of the giver – this could have been written about Paul and in fact explains exactly Paul’s beauty and what he gave to life…..
“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,
and their coffers are never empty.
There are those that give with joy and that joy is their reward.
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breaths its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He
smiles upon the earth.”
- On Friday ,10th May ,Paul’s family are organizing a Social Evening in the Wharf Hotel in the Bay ,Cardiff .Please come and join us for Paul’s Fund raising event for Touch Trust. We’ll have fun!!
- AlsoSaffron ,his niece has a Tribute to Paul on Face Book if you would like to know more about his amazing life.
10th January ‘13
Last week I went to see Phantom of the Opera at the Wales Millennium Centre and again it blew my mind .Such wonderful music and such a tragic story,so full of truths.
I felt the power of its message much more strongly than ever .Lloyd Webber’s musical underlines compassion as the highest expression of love. It hit me hard and brought home the power of the Touch Trust philosophy and practice, in a small place in another part of the same building where we touch the lives of vulnerable people .
I saw it so clearly.
In our lives we reach towards this pureness of love. We try so hard ,but only manage to understand what love is very imperfectly .
My marriage failed because I thought love was about attraction ,romance, sex , neediness. When eventually all these fell away I was disillusioned and then I looked elsewhere for love .
For many of us this is sadly our journey .Paradoxically I also know that if this is where we are we have to live through this , be honest and authentic on our journey .Learning must be meaningful, and the only way to progress is to suffer with courage as well as to enjoy living with courage.
It is only now finally ,past romance, attraction and sex ,having suffered and learnt and tried to love , can I in some small way enjoy the beautiful energy of compassion.
The Touch Trust Centre is fertile ground for compassion .Here compassionate love draws us into its arms .We learn to give and care and to know the joys of this expansion of our self interest to encompass others.
I came across a poem I wrote when we were looking for somewhere to have a Happiness Centre fifteen years ago and I was with Don ,a young man who so much needed beauty to counteract the pain of his unhappy life. As we spoke about our ambitions ,I looked down and saw one tear run down Don’s face !
This is the poem and now Don has this beautiful Centre and comes to us every week .We have enriched him ,but he has enriched our lives ( each enriching the other ,which is the wonderful and unique gift of compassion.)
Happiness Centre for Touch Therapy and Rhythmic Healing 1997
Darling your tears are the seal.
Your unhappiness overwhelms me. As we talked
One tear fell.
Almost unnoticed as
We talked of our love for you-
And the Happiness Centre
I dream of , where you Don
Could feel our love
Through touch, in a beautiful place,
(Sunlight ,water, music and harmony of colour.)
You heard us talking and one tear fell –darling that set the seal.
We will have it , for you and others.
Darling we will get this, for you and others like you.
The best is not enough.
Your tears are the seal….
This is my second blog – just before Christmas! We had a delightful Christmas ‘Sharing and Showing’ of the College students’ expressive activities last week. This was the eighth Christmas ‘Sharing and Showing’ on the Glanfa stage –and the BEST.
The authentic creative expression of each student was quite amazing, while the spontaneous joy and of the students and staff affected the audience in a very positive way . There were tears ,smiles, laughter and hugs .
This was the true spirit of Christmas, a celebration of love and diversity ;authentic expression confidently given and joyously received and the inevitable mood of wellbeing and happiness which resulted for both giver and receiver.
Claudia Mollzahn and Liz Harris surpassed themselves .We are so fortunate to have them leading the College ,thank you both. Their excellence and unselfish excellence calls to mind what Helen Keller wrote,
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task but it is my chief duty to
accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
As Mother Teresa once said ,
“ Do small things with great love”
After all, at Christmas we are celebrating the greatest gift of all – Christ’s Birth ,Death and Resurrection ;whatever religion we support ,it is about love and goodness and the triumph of Light!
Until the New Year enjoy yourselves and celebrate LIFE.
This is the month eight years ago that we took occupation of our allotted space in the new Wales Millennium Centre . There were only two of us then, our recently appointed Business Manager ( seconded from Barclays Bank) and myself.
On 26th November ,2004 the WMC officially opened with a magnificent performance on the Donald Gordon stage and we were part of it –on the stage with members of the other six Artistic Residents –a night and a time never to be forgotten .
From nothing –we wrote to schools and day centres and community houses where I had a link inviting them to come to Touch Trust sessions – we began a few sessions a week in our Centre.
I am amazed at how far we have come and to celebrate our wonderful journey I am going to start a monthly blog .
In my blog I will tell our story, celebrate our success, write about future aims and give thanks to God – or the Universe if you prefer- and friends).
To finish this first blog I will quote from (what can be seen now as a prophetic statement) our very first leaflet written in 1996 when we looked at deserted garages and stately homes and had no concept of anything like the WMC and were penniless!
This was our Vision 10 years ago- now it is a reality…..
“Can you imagine a “Cathedral of Light, a beautiful place where those with profound special needs can be touched and their souls can be reached and we can see their eyes opened revealing joy and love?
In turn, we as helpers are also touched and are enlightened by them-a beautiful interaction takes place which benefits them and us .We finally understand that they have yet undamaged minds and souls of great beauty and yearning as we have.
In this beautiful place, a programme is introduced on a one to one basis which encourages close personal relationships. This spiritual beauty will be married with the most beautiful building we can devise,which will incorporate art , colour, movement ,music and sound ,rhythm, scent and therapy.
This dream is already a reality in terms of beautiful individual interaction between a few. We desperately need support and sponsorship for this beautiful place to come into fruition and for more to benefit.
We are a small group of people dedicated to this dream, will you help us?
“Our goal while we are on this earth is to transcend our illusions and discover the innate power of our spirit. We are responsible for what we create, and we must therefore learn to act and think with love and wisdom and to live in service to others and all life.”
Our vision came true and the result is a reality beyond what we had dreamt of!