Feedback on Networking, Sharing, Making Connections – 2   Leave a comment

Pre Amble

First an apology at the delay in providing this feedback, as this event took place on 12th May 2018. Those who attended will know that due to my health, I struggled on the day, and in fact forgot to do things like show the lunchtime presentation that I had spent hours preparing! This was a shame as it contained lots of comments from people I had spoken to about their involvement, but who could not attend on the day – including Celia Smith one of the Founder Members of NCMA.

Most however, did not witness the state I was in at the end of event – only my husband, Garry and Sue Allingham who happened to be using the lift at the same time. I was exhausted and in tears, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other. With hindsight it had been too much for me, and if I had been able to think straight at the beginning of 2018, I should have cancelled the event – but I didn’t. As time moved closer and closer to the 12th May, I realise that I was struggling to prepare everything that needed preparing.

As a result I think it is fair to say Networking, Sharing, Making Connections – 2  was not as successful as my first event – but from feedback I recieved it was still successful and many people made new connections and friendships were renewed. We heard some fantastic presentations which had a common statement made by most speakers.

‘I would not be who I am today if I’ was not for my volunteering, and / or the early years membership organisations’

This statement is certainly true for myself, as volunteering has given me so much back. Anyone who volunteers does it because they want to help others – individuals / organisations / communities / and society as a whole. It is not until after a period of time, and opportunity to reflect, that you realise that by volunteering you have gained so much;- Confidence, friendships, transferable skills for the work place, a reputation for helping others. You also get to meet new people and often to go to new places both for meetings and social events.

My volunteering started by being centred around supporting the things my children were involved in;- Playgroup committee’s, school PTA’s and Girl Guiding but also extended to areas connected to my chosen  profession;- Childminding committee’s local, regional and national, Early years organisations first at local, then regional and finally at national level. My volunteering  then extending to things like being involved with the Ofsted Big Conversation and NEyTCO being the lead person for both in the West Midlands.

Readers may know that my volunteering also resulted in me having enough confidence to start the first ratio petition and enabled  travelling to London to speak directly to MP’S; and after 30 + years of volunteering to receiving a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s 2016 Birthday Honours.

So it not really a surprise that I chose the subject of my second event to be volunteering and Early Years Membership Organisations.

An apology has already been given at the beginning of this blog, but I want to explain a little bit more about what hat happened  since May 2018.

I became quite ill and it was clear that my diabetic medications were having a negative effect. This was worrying because I am already diagnosed with Diabetic Radiculopathy which basically is caused by a negative reaction to diabetic meds. I had made slow but steady progress from Feb 2017 – May 2018 in that I was able to do more than I had been able to in 2017 – early 2018, but I was still far from well. Another issue was that I was suffering from ‘Brain Fog’ both from the prescribed morphine and the effect of the insulin which made planning and then doing things very difficult – and had a huge impact on my memory. Regular readers will know that I rarely take notes but up to the point of my illness had been able to recall events attended in detail, enabling me to share via this blog.

Basically my ill health meant that between May and August 2018 although I wanted to, and even tried a couple of times to put finger to keyboard – I was asking too much of myself to provide feedback from my event. And so it did not happen.

In August 18 with my Doctor’s knowledge – as in ‘You need to consider your quality of life, Penny’ – I took myself off my diabetic meds and for a couple of months life was good – the brain fog partially lifted, I could do a bit more physically and mentally, and I was hopeful things were on track to improve to a point whereby I could pick up the pieces of my life – including providing feedback to my event, my volunteering and my campaigning.

However, my glucose levels started to rise as I was not taking any meds, and although I felt fairly well in myself, my doctor was concerned and referred me to a new consultant. The new consultant – like my GP – listened to me and more importantly believed me. A new tablet was prescribed which worked but it also created side effects as my body reacted. Every other day tablet taking was tried and although slowed side effects down, the side effects were building, and I was once again losing control of my body functions – and becoming a bit depressed. Bringing readers up to date I am now trying a new non insulin injection – time will tell if this is the right med for me.

So in general things are not brilliant, I am trying to remain positive and trying to remain busy which is not easy when everything is a challenge. I have attended a few events to help motivate me and stop me from getting too depressed (last thing I need is another pill!).

And it is through attending these events that I have some good news!

First, so many people have taken opportunity to meet up with me, at these events, including some of the speakers and attendees from my event.  All have reassured me that it does not matter that I have not provided feedback yet – there is plenty of time, and when I am better will be soon enough.

Second, I have started making contacts with universities about the possibility of working in partnership to create a record of all the information I have gathered, to preserve the personal recollections of the founder members of the early years membership organisations, and to record the personal stories of those who volunteered for early years membership organisations. This is something that I mentioned as an aspiration at my event, and so I am very pleased to report that a meeting with one of the universities is now in the pipeline to explore the possibilities.

So watch this space as I will keep everyone updated with the progress – and if this university decides is not the right project for them, I will approach other universities, organisations and even individuals until I find a way to create a permanent record for future generations.

The Event Overview

Well this part of the blog is going to be shorter than usual as due to the prescribed morphine my memory has let me down, and I can not recall sufficient information. I will be noted the highlights (as in what I can recall) a bit further on in this blog, but really my recall will not do justice to all the speakers.

However, I do have the presentations of some of those who spoke at my event, and I will chase those who did not leave copies of their presentations to send them to me.

My aim is that I will produce a series of short blogs with each blog containing the presentation of one person. I will also produced further blogs containing personal memories of those who were unable to attend but who sent me information. I hope that as the information becomes public knowledge that others will send in their memories because really I have only scratched the surface of the mountain of personal stories and knowledge that is out there.

As an insight as to what is to come here are the speakers from Networking, Sharing, Making Connections – 2, who either attended in person or who sent a recorded presentation

ME! – Penny Webb

Laura Henry (Consultant / trainer / Author)

Sue Griffin (Former National Chair of Pre school Playgroups Association)

Tricia Wellings (Nursery owner / trainer / consultant)

Neil Leitch  (CEO Pre school Learning Alliance)

Ann Goddard (Founder member of NCMA)

Rob Fox  (Founder of Active Childhood / student / Practitioner)

Helen Cazaly (Pacey Trustee)

Sue Allingham ( Trainer / Consultant / Early Education Trustee / moderator  of Keeping Early Years Unique)

Mick McGeowen  (Former Pacey National Policy Forum Member )

Esther Gray (Former Early Years Regulatory Inspector)

Sally McGeowen (Former Pacey volunteer)

Elaine Pitteway ( Childminding UK)

Beth Thomas (Author / researcher)

NB We should have had a presentation by NEyTCO but sadly they were unable to be with us on the day.

All speakers spoke about their personal story, and most spoke with passion for the early years and the early years membership their were or had been involved with. As already mentioned the most quoted phrase was ‘ I would not be who I am today if it was not for my volunteering and involvement with the early years membership organisations’. Even those who had had negative experiences recalled how this had also helped shaped who they are today.

The other people who helped by meeting with me, or by sending their stories via email, will, as already mentioned have a short blog with their story as I think it is vital that these everyday, but vitally important stories are saved for future generations.

These people include

Val Johns

Sue Owen

Sarah Edwards

Celia Smith

Becky Watanabe

Marjie Seaman

Linda O’Rourke


My Personal Recall of the Highlights

Despite several people being unable to attend on the day, we still had over 50 people in the room, which was fantastic.

Everyone had a goody bag with a notebook, a copy of Practical Preschool Magazine (containing Child Care Magazine and therefore one of my articles – thanks To Neil Henty for his support. Plus a large number of other small items thanks to the efforts of Ruth Measure in collecting them from those donating in her area. The final item in the bag was a bespoke card created by my friends Dick and Barbara Skilton, and hand coloured by myself. The colouring in had been a labour of love as had taken hours and hours (especially as due to the morphine I kept falling asleep mid task!


Dick and Barbara has also brought a display of their products and chatted to attendees. There was also a display of all the articles I had written; information from Pacey; Copies of historic issues of Who Minds; a display of historic items from the Pre school Playgroups Association; and a folder of printed copies of information sent to me, some attendees added photos to this folder for all top look at.

As I say I can’t recall all the presentations in detail, so my next recall is of lunch time and the amazing raffle organised by Gemma Tasker. Gemma had brought an enormous quantity of raffle prizes with her by train in suitcases! And some people added extra prizes on the day. The raffle was very well supported and Gemma raised £280 which was split between two charities of my choose –  BloodWise and The Countess of Chester BabyGrow appeal.

Huge thanks to Gemma for organising this, to Neil Leitch who drew out all the winning tickets , and to everyone who brought tickets.

Lunch was served and although enjoyed by most, a few people including myself could not enjoy it as all the choices were based on chilli. Feedback has been given to the venue, because other than this issue all the refreshments were fantastic.

The rest of day was a struggle for me, I was getting tired and struggling to stay on task, but even so I enjoyed all the afternoon speakers and was inspired by their passion.

The day came to a close and people started to make their way home, some though stayed to help tidy up which I was grateful for, as the day had taken a huge toll on me.

My personal reflection is I am glad I organised Networking, Sharing and Making Connections – 2  but wish my health had enabled me to be better prepared and more focussed on the day.

This blog is the starting point of the reflections from the day, the others that follow will contain the personal stories that I have collected so far – starting with Celia Smith Founder Member of NCMA.

If anyone who attended would like to write a guest blog with their memories of the day, please get in touch.

Finally I hope my talks with the university go well, and before long we have a permanent record of the personal stories and memories of the early years membership organisations and their volunteering



Posted October 13, 2018 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

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