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Cwm Taf Health Board

The Courier By staff. About staff. For staff.

Issue 2 / 2013

The glitz & the glam from the annual staff recognition awards

The into Spring Jump dition e Inside:

Getting into shape for the London Marathon Climbing Kilimanjaro for autism Running a 5k on St David’s Day Don’t mess with me - I know Tae Kwon Do


Issue 2 / 2013

CONTENTS Cover story: Staff Recognition Awards pages 10-13 06


Features: Walk to work week pages 6-7 A kick to fitness pages 8-9



Pam’s road to running a 5k page 14 Uned iaith Gymraeg page 15 On top of Africa pages 16-19 Bowel cancer DVD pages 20-21 Five minutes with page 24 Marathon runner page 25



Did you get a mention? Page 26

Got a story to share? Want to see it in the next edition of The Courier? 14




Issue 2 / Spring 2013



Welcome to the second edition… Following the publication of the first edition of The Courier a couple of months ago, we’ve been blown away by your reaction to the magazine and all the positive feedback we’ve had. It’s been very humbling to hear people in all corners of the organisation talk about something they read and enjoyed within these pages and about their ideas for future editions. We’ve timed this Courier to coincide with Cwm Taf’s annual staff recognition awards and, while the frocks weren’t quite the same as those seen on this year’s red carpet at the Oscars, we hope that the stories behind the awards are just as moving and inspiring as any Hollywood blockbuster. We know it’s tough out there and that all staff are working extremely hard in some very difficult circumstances, which is why it’s so important we recognise hard work, innovation and dedication. We also seem to have a number of intrepid staff who are taking on, or have just completed, some pretty active endeavours. I’m a keen runner who pounds the streets of Porth at stupid o’clock most mornings but I’m not sure that I’ve got a marathon in me quite yet. I tried to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro a few years ago and failed, so it’s been a pleasure to read about Darrell and Mark’s climb. Once again, we hope you enjoy this edition and we look forward to receiving more ideas for future Couriers.

e n i e l e d a M

Madeleine Brindley Head of Communications





Paul Edmonds Assistant Editor and designer

Sharon Draper Assistant Editor

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5 reasons Discover where walking can take you during N a t i o n a l Walking Month this May. If you’re wondering what you can do to take part in National Walking Month then why not take up the challenge of Walk to Work Week? Walk to Work Week 2013 (13–17 May) is a national challenge

organised by the charity Living Streets. The aim is to get people walking more to and from work, during work and at lunchtimes during the week and beyond. So why not get yourself and your team walking this May? Team up, log your miles and compete with colleagues. Walking is a great way to stay trim and helps

keep your heart healthy. It saves on petrol and bus fares, and is better for our planet. It’s easy to fit some more walking in to your working week.

Whether it’s making changes to how you travel to work, or getting out more at lunchtimes.


A refreshing way to get active The summer should be the perfect time to get active but still some may prefer to opt for a comfortable deckchair. Use the Living Streets ice cream calculator to inspire yourself to get active and see what ice creams your walking could burn off – from a refreshing freeze pop right up to a luxury choc lolly. The Living Streets ice

cream calculator is a simple and fun reminder to encourage yourself to stay active. Why not share it with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to take part too?

why you should get walking Remember it’s not just about walking to work so keep in mind how you can fit more walking into your daily routine: •

Walk to work (part or all of the way)

Walk from work (part or all of the way)

Walk to a meeting (part or all of the way)

Hold a walking meeting

Walk during lunchtime


A kick to fitness

Bullied at school, Joanna Seldon lost her confidence and became shy and nervous. But inspired by Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones and Champions for Health, the 28-year-old has rediscovered her confidence and a new passion for fitness. Joanna, who is part of the IT department, was looking for a challenge when the Champions for Health scheme was launched last year in the wake of London 2012. Inspired by the project, which is designed to help NHS staff adopt healthier lifestyles, Joanna wanted to become more active and get fitter. But little did she know that the challenge would also re-build her

confidence and she would grow to love Tae Kwon Do. Joanna, who lives with husband Matthew and cat Midnight in the Rhondda, had wanted to try Tae Kwon Do when she was younger but a lack of time and a driving licence prevented her from going to classes. After finally passing her driving test on her 12th attempt – Joanna says a phobia of exams held her back – she thought this was now the perfect time. Joanna, who works in the postgraduate centre at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, was initially petrified of the thought of being in front of people – she hated the feeling of standing in front of groups and crowds.

This came from her school days when she was bullied.

other activities. Since then I’ve had no confidence in myself at all.”

”I was bullied right through secondary school,” she said. “It was horrible – I even changed schools and this didn’t resolve the problem. I stopped going outside as I was afraid. I stayed at home and played computer games. This, however, did have a positive impact as it gave me the skills to achieve a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Studies.

But Joanna loved Tae Kwon Do and couldn’t wait for her next lesson. She felt even more determined when she met Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones. “She was truly inspiring. She was a lovely, down-to-earth girl and gave me tips on how to stay calm while sparring. She also let me hold her medal which very large and very heavy,” Joanna said.

“The bullying stopped me singing which is something I loved and also taking part in any

Joanna now trains three times a week with the Steve Tottle School TAGB Tae Kwon Do, which she finds extremely supportive with adults taking up this sport. She trains in venues close to home b u t s h e c o m pe t e s around the UK. H u s b a n d Matthew does the driving while Joanna concentrates on calming her nerves.

“I even came back with a Pictured: Joanna with Jade Jones, medal after a Olympic Champion Tae Kwon Do competition my

A KICK TO FITNESS 09 tutor forgot to enter me for h i s

support. It has also built up my confidence - I now feel that I’m much more assertive and I take care of other aspects of my life such as my skin and diet. During the

role models and advocates of public health messages. Joanna found keeping a journal—as all champions were asked to do— very useful.

“I owe a big thank you to Champions for Health as it has encouraged me to do

daughter entered me on the day and I won, so that worked out well. He’s entered me for the next one though,” Joanna said. There are 10 Tae Kwon Do grades and Joanna has completed two— she is currently working towards her seventh kup green tag. Tae Kwon Do has quickly become part of Joanna’s lifestyle and she aims to carry on and go as far as she can with it. “Thanks to Champions for Health I am doing something I really enjoy,” she said. “I needed a kick start and as part of the monitoring I can keep an eye on how I am doing. I also look at it and can’t believe I have had so much success. It’s good to see success instead of failure. “I’m so glad I joined the project as I would never have joined the class if I didn’t have the

class yo u have t o s p ea k up if there are issues, t h e y constant ly encourage you to do this which has built my confidence to speak up”. “This is also reflected in my work as I now feel comfortable speaking up and offering my opinions, where previously I would have said nothing.” Champions for Health is an all-Wales scheme to help healthcare staff become more effective

something that, deep down, I’ve wanted to do for years but haven’t had the push to do,” Joanna said. “It has also improved my lifestyle as well as improving my confidence. “My Mam and Dad said they are very proud of my positive attitude, although my Nan tells me that my great uncle was a Master in Ikedo and that I’ve got a lot to live up to!”


And the winner is... Leadership

Improving the Patient Experience

Claire Goatson Ward Manager Mental Health directorate

Helen Shilton Staff Nurse Obs, Gynae and Sexual Health

Patients Choice

Ward 6 (Ynysdawel ward) at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon


Primary Care Nursing Service / Nurse Facilitator at Heol Draw

Supportive Colleague

Sara Minahan HR Admin team leader Workforce and OD

Two Awards:

Sustainability and Improvement

Minor Injuries team Kelly ward Senior Biomedical Scientist in Microbiology

Two Awards:

Health and wellbeing at work

Shelly Wyer and team at Kier Hardie Health Park

Long Service and Outstanding Contribution

Wendy Jones Nurse, Outpatients Department Judith Nix Staff Nurse, Orthopaedic Outpatients

Two Awards:

Team of the Year

Organ donation specialists at RGH and PCH Transport Team

Cwm Taf Stars

Mark Griffiths Ward Manager Mental Health directorate


Winner Leadership

Claire Goatson Claire is an enigmatic and passionate individual who's motivation to improve the lives of service users is infectious. She has been fundamental to the development of Pinewood

House - from a privately run nursing home in to a gold standard Adult Rehabilitation service. Claire has led a workforce of staff which previously worked in different roles in the Independent sector. She has become a well respected ward manager who has nurtured her staff from different roles within the independent sector to

Winner Improving the Patient Experience

Helen Shilton Helen has introduced early discharge planning on the postnatal ward at Prince Charles Hospital which has s i g n i f i c a n t l y reduced the number of in

patient days. As soon as wom en deliver, the discharge is planned and

become rehabilitation and recovery practitioners. Claire is continuously challenging the stigma of mental illness, promoting partnerships with local voluntary services, comprehensive schools and probation services. Her compas-

organised ensuring there is no delay in the discharge process. As a result, women have a better experience and are more satisfied as there is no longer a delay in their transfer home. Helen has also introduced a training programme to

sion and dedication to improving the quality of life for service users is clearly visible in Pinewood House. Most importantly she crea t e s a n environment of care, where patients thrive and fulfil their potential as valued members of the community.

support trans i t i o n a l neonatal care o n t h e postnatal w a r d . T h i s enables babies who require special neonatal care to be cared for alongside their mothers. It was introduced 12 months ago and enables more cots to be freed up in the Special Care Baby Unit.

Winners Sustainability and Improvement

Minor Injuries team On Monday 14 May 2012, the Minor Injury T r eatm ent Centr e at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda

became operational with the “Phone First!” pilot—a new service model to ensure sustainable services into the future and to ensure that we are getting the right patient to the right place for the right care by the right clinician in the most timely manner. The results of the initial evaluation demonstrate that the pilot project has been well received by the public and staff involved.

Winner Health and wellbeing at work

Shelly Wyer and team The Cwm Taf Public Health Dietetic Team have been in post just over 12 months, but in that time have made a huge impression. This

small team of 4 have worked effortlessly to implement a variety of Agored Cymru accredited nutrition training programmes across Cwm Taf. Within this period they have taught 75 childcare staff and profes-


The organ donation team has worked tirelessly to improve the organ donation

Last year we acquired a revolutionary instrument (MALDI) that could identify bacteria very quickly and at a fraction of the current cost. Kelly was charged with getting to grips with this instrument and i t s implementation as it was the first of its kind in Wales.

rates in the Cwm Taf Health Board area. There has been a great increase in the number of donors during the past financial year.

T he T r ans por t team showed huge commitment and dedication throughout the heavy snow period. They enabled staff to get to work and patients to be cared for. They have had a h u g e

Winner Patient Choice

Ward 6 Ysbyty Cwm Cynon A letter was received from a patient’s wife thanking all the staff on ward 6 for their “kind heart and compassionate nursing

care” while they nursed her late husband.

She has succeeded so successfully that she is now recognised as an expert and has been invited to present a poster to the international conference ECMID in Berlin this year which is a great privilege. She has also been asked to go to other Hospitals in Wales to explain to s t a f f how to set upthe system.

sionals working with under 5’s; 62 community m e m b e r s working with young people and their families; and 49 community workers caring for older adults.

Transport team

Team of the Year

Organ donation Team

Kelly Ward

She continued to speak about the dignity, respect and care they showed him and their family before he died. She talked in particular about Elaine Jones’

amount of thanks from staff already but deserve to be recognised here too. It was very much a team effort; from the helpdesks that take the calls, the drivers, the c oor di nat or s of the transport at all sites and the grounds and gardens teams out clearing and gritting the sites.

ability to make her husband smile during his last days she said “ her smile, her humour and rapour to a dying man did cheer me up during the darker times of caring for my husband”. She wanted to thank all the staff on the ward and Elaine “you are a credit to your profession”.


nership working and supporting local communities wi t h i n C wm T af .


Primary Care Nurses The Primary Care nursing service has consistently delivered across organisational boundaries and is a true ambassador for part-

Winner Supportive Colleague

Sara Minahan Recently one of our colleagues, Teresa Thomas was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which led to her forced retirement. Sara's

This includes partnership working between primary and secondary care, the health board and local authorities, the health board and the independent care sector and the health board and Institutes of higher education.


Long Service and Outstanding Contribution

Judith retired last year after 23 years service in the Or-

thopaedic OPD/Plaster room/A&E department in Prince Charles Hospital. Judith attended Stanmore in London where she studied and obtained the British Casting Certifi-

Winner Cwm Taf Star

Mark Griffiths In April 2012 Mark took on the challenge of leading the new acute admission unit at Royal Glamorgan. In No-

The team’s ability to work collaboratively across organisational boundaries and within a range of care settings is central to the delivery of a sustainable model of care to support GP Practices

and local communities in meeting the health care agenda. It is for this reason that the team is deserving of further recognition for their professionalism, commitment and innovative approach to partnership working.

commitment to supporting Teresa through the trials and tribulations her illness presented has been enormous. Unfortunately Teresa passed away but we can be assured that her last weeks of life were enhanced greatly by Sara's support.


Judith Nix


vember Mark was involved in a serious critical

Her reputation for casting and teaching is well known and respected throughout the Association of Orthopaedic Practitioners.

Wendy Jones

health after having worked there for many years. Wendy, thankfully recovered from a life threatening illness, andnow works as a bank nurse with the phlebotomy team providing an excellent service to the OPD departments throughout the health board.

Wendy has been a nurse all of her working life starting as a young girl and retiring from OPD due to ill

incident. An acutely ill patient managed to climb onto the roof of the mental health unit and was threatening to take his own life. Mark demonstrated enormous courage climbing onto the roof and distracting the patient long enough to enable him to take hold of him safely and await assistance

from the police and fire service. Mark's actions were truly selfless and way above and beyond the call of duty.


Pam’s road to running a 5k maintain my training and my healthy eating. When I started training I set myself a few goals. One was to be able to walk PenY-Fan, which I achieved in October 2011. I also walked Snowden in the pouring rain last summer which was another achievement. My legs and hips ached for days but the views were worth it – even though I’m scared of heights.

Pam Wenger after completing the St David’s Day 5k run in Cardiff I started my journey to get fit about two years ago. I’ve been on a diet for as long as I can remember—I lose weight and then I put it back on again. The turning point for me came in April 2010 when I started a new role in the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee and took it as an opportunity to step up my sessions in the gym. My journey to work was cut in half so what to do with this time? I decided to get a trainer at my local gym and I remember my first session well! I felt dizzy after about 30 minutes and thought I was going to faint. I walked out of the gym red-faced, sweaty and exhausted after only half an hour. The thought about giving up went through my mind but that’s not me, instead it made me even more determined to succeed.

I started to train first thing in the morning before work and soon noticed how I was loosing weight (without dieting). I found a way of exercising that suited me and meant I didn’t have the excuse every night driving home from work that I was too tired or I couldn’t be bothered. My eating habits changed as I trained more. I ate less processed foods and cooked all my meals from scratch - well, not all the time as the odd M&S meal found its way into my

One of my other goals was to be able to run 10k and being able to run for 30 seconds without my heart racing and struggling to breathe—I almost felt it would never be achieveable. Over the winter months I would run before work one morning a week in the cold and when I achieved my first mile it was the best feeling ever. It was the proudest feeling when I made it to two miles. Then one bitterly cold morning (I think it was -1C ) when the only way to keep warm was to run, I made three miles! It was at that point I made a decision to enter the 5k St David’s Day run and to publicly tell people I was doing it so there would be no backing out. To be able to run the 5k was my new goal! I decided to raise money for Cancer Research Wales as I had two close friends who had family members battling cancer. I felt that I

“I follow the 80/20 rule, I think you have to be flexible and give yourself treats every now and again and that has helped me maintain my training and my healthy eating” fridge. I follow the 80-20 rule—I think you have to be flexible and give yourself treats every now and again and that’s helped me

was able to do something for a good cause which would benefit those who need it. I raised £300 so all

I needed to do now was run 5k. Sounds simple for most people but for me it would be a real challenge. I woke up on the morning of the run and Derek the Weatherman had let me down! It wasn’t sunny - it was really cold and windy. I wanted to run the whole 5k but was worried about coming in last. My inspiration on run day was an 82- year-old gentleman doing his best to run the course. My concern about coming last was alleviated as long as I kept in front of him. I was so inspired by this gentleman it made me think if he could do it so could I. And I did! It took me 43 minutes and I was so pleased to be able run the whole 5k. With my medal and t-shirt, a few pictures and a few text messages later it felt pretty good. I waited for my brother to do his first 10k and he achieved that in an hour and seven minutes so it was smiles all around. It’s a funny feeling - it’s always tough when you’re running but the feeling afterwards is like no other. So what’s next? You guessed it - the Cardiff 10k. It won’t matter how long it takes me, so long as I finish. Wish me luck. * Pam Wenger is head of corporate services at Cwm Taf Health Board


Uned Iaith Gymraeg

Cwm Taf Mae Gareth Davies a Kathryn Williams yn rhedeg yr Uned o Dŷ Ynysmeurig, Abercynon. Ymhlith y gwaith maen nhw’n ei wneud yw: • Cynnal sesiynau ymwybyddiaeth iaith Gymraeg i staff • Cynorthwyo staff sydd am ddysgu’r Gymraeg neu wella eu Cymraeg • Cyfieithu pamffledi a deunyddiau byr i ganolig eu hyd • Gweithio ag adrannau a chyfarwyddiaethau i fwyhau’r cyfleoedd o sicrhau gwasanaethau Cymraeg i gleifion

Podlediadau Iaith ar y gweill Mae Uned Iaith Gymraeg Cwm Taf yn gweithio ar fenter newydd o greu Podlediadau dwyieithog i gynorthwyo staff gofal sylfaenol. Nod y Podlediadau yw cyflwyno ymadroddion a geirfa berthnasol i staff pan fydd yn gyfleus iddyn nhw wrando arnynt – eu lawrlwytho i’r cyfrifiadur, i’r ffôn ac ati.

Mae’r Podlediadau wedi eu treialu ac maen nhw wedi eu croesawu. Mae’r posibiliadau’n ddiddiwedd gan greu deunyddiau penodol i staff yn eu meysydd arbenigol. Mae’r Uned yn ddiolchgar i Teri Doyle o’r tîm e-busnes am ei harbenigedd hi wrth baratoi’r gwaith.

Mwy na geiriau Lansiwyd y strategaeth ‘Mwy na geiriau’ gan Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru yn Ysbyty Cwm Cynon. Ei nod yw cryfhau gwasanaethau mewn iechyd, gwasanaethau cymdeithasol a gofal. Mae’r strategaeth yn anelu at: • Wella ansawdd gofal • Cynnal safonau proffesiynol • Bodloni anghenion iaith y defnyddiwr • Cydymffurfio â gofynion cyfreithiol “Dy’n ni ddim yn mynd i allu cael byd perffaith â phawb yn siarad Cymraeg ond os all y tîm meddygol gynnwys rhywun sy’n siarad Cym-

raeg, mae hynny’n help!” Profiad defnyddiwr – ‘Mwy na geiriau’ Am ragor o wybodaeth dilynwch y ddolen morethanjustwords@wales.gsi.g neu cysylltwch â Gareth Davies neu Kathryn Williams yn yr Uned.

Dyma fi Yn dilyn llwyddiant Rebecca Thomas, yr Hwylusydd Trawsnewid Gofal, yng Ngwobrau’r Gymraeg mewn Gofal Iechyd 2012 pan gynhyrchodd lyfryn dwyieithog ar gyfer pobl â dementia i’r claf a’r teulu/ gofalwyr/staff er mwyn gwybod am hoffterau, cas bethau a diddordebau’r claf; mae Rebecca a’r Uned wedi cydweithio i baratoi dau lyfryn arall sy’n dwyn yr un teitl ar gyfer plant 0-12 oed a phobl ifanc 12 oed ymlaen. Yn ogystal â’r posibiliadau o ddefnyddio dewis iaith y claf mae’r llyfrynnau hyn hefyd yn rhoi darlun mwy cyflawn o’r claf. Bydd y ddau lyfryn newydd yn cael eu henwebu ar gyfer Gwobrau’r Gymraeg Mewn Gofal Iechyd 2013.

Os gallwn ni eich helpu chi unrhywbryd codwch y ffôn: 01443 744 800 / 744 910 neu e-bostiwch



Taking autism to the roof of Africa AFTER reflecting on our charity Kilimanjaro trek, there are really only two stories that account for our adventure - the one we tell our friends and loved ones now we’re home safely, which has the benefit of inspiring others to attempt to tackle the world’s highest

Two of us—Mark Flagg, from workforce development and myself Darrell Clarke, planning and partnerships, had volunteered for quite different reasons. Mark has a son with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),

who sadly passed away the following day. Training started soon after our first briefing in April 2012—early morning starts in the Brecon Beacons, Snowdon and Scaffel Pike, much in the cold, wet and dark. This would be

The Ascent for Autism team

free-standing mountain, and the one we tell each other as a trek team, which has the benefit of being true. For the benefit of this article, we’ve been as honest as we can and our memories will allow. Kilimanjaro – the roof of Africa or Uhuru peak stands at an amazing 19,800ft (5,800m) and is considered to be the most popular of the Big Seven, of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. A year ago, 13 members of the ‘Ascent for Autism’ team signed up to scale Kilimanjaro to raise muchneeded funds, awareness and understanding of autism. Some of us knew each other through work or our work with autism, but many of us were meeting for the first time.

and saw it as an opportunity to show other parents and carers that there is support available. “In one sense the trek was about my son, but also for everyone once told they have autism to contend with,” he said. I joined because of my experience of working with ASD families. I’d recently retired from rugby and missed the competitive nature that sport brings. I decided this was an excellent opportunity to challenge myself mentally and physically, and to see benefits to others via the sponsorship and awareness raising with the autism charities we were supporting. I was very proud to pay my deposit and share what I was doing with my mum,

invaluable on Kilimanjaro as everyone benefitted from the additional exercise and improved nutrition. But the bonding and befriending was just as important. My first glimpse of Kili was from the plane window as we flew to Tanzania. Once we’d landed, we met the director of the autism charity in Tanzania, Mama Grace, to hear first-hand her challenges in helping ASD families with limited resources, and the emotional but very real maltreatment of her own child and others in a country that struggles to understand autism. Our last night’s sleep in the hotel before we left for park gate wa s an interesting one, filled with nervous excitement and a sadness of being away

from our loved ones back home. In our final briefing we were told to only pack what we really needed. This was difficult, because it was already feeling strange to be in Africa and a mere 38C with hardly a pair of shorts or flip flops in sight, instead we had summit jackets, fleeces and balaclavas. We’d also received chapter and verse about altitude sickness, but again it seemed unreal and something which, with all our training, the advice and the prescription Diamox, couldn’t happen to us. We all hoped we make it safely to the top. The words of Paul Murphy our trek coordinator and fellow trekker and Dom Pickett, our British guide (who took the Welsh captains to the top in 2010) would ring in our ears: “Most of you will endure some headaches, shortness of breath, possible nosebleeds, along with fatigue and sudden vomiting…” And so we began, and as we suppose is often the way when clim bing mountains, it wasn’t too bad at first, after the frustration of hanging around at the gate signing paperwork, excitingly taking photos and watching as the vast trail of porters breezed passed much to our amazement at the amount and size of the equipment they carried. Day one was no worse than a humid five-and-a-half hour tramp from the Kilimanjaro National Park Gates to 8,500ft through lush yet oddly quiet rainforest—the air was as thick as it proved to be thin


a - Kilimanjaro by Darrell Clarke later. We were passed by descending trekkers almost at their journey’s end every hour or so, they stumbled by, gung-ho with good luck wishes and an air of encouragement in their voices but also a haunting glare of reality in their eyes. Our arrival at Marandu Huts was exciting, everyone together and everyone in good health, though the size of our group resulted in us staying in the oldest bunk house. That night, after our first real taste of the local cuisine, saw our sleep interrupted by constant Diamox-induced visits to the latrines. Our wake-up call at 6.30am came with our first experience of washing with just a small bowl of lukewarm water. Poli-poli was a Swahili term we quickly became acquainted with, along with the humour and friendliness of the porters and our guides. We didn’t see the majority of our 60-strong porter crew during our daily hikes, as they would progress to camp earlier and far quicker than we were allowed to, the remaining guides would set our p a c e and be o u r b a c k markers. D a y t w o brought a different terrain as we left the splendour of the rainforest and entered the open alpine zone and moorland on route to Horombo

huts. An hour or so into the hike we caught our first real sight of our prize in the distance as we curved our way through the tall heathers and trees that marked our path. The terrain was now far more rocky and a greater test of endurance, especially with the sun beating down on us. An hour from camp and we were greeted with two unexpected surprises, the first was a group of six porters running a trolley down the track back down the mountain, carrying an unconscious trekker. This was a real taste of reality and one that brought all our talks and briefings to lifethe dangers were now upmost in our thoughts and we started to respect the challenge ahead of us, bringing a brutal air of uncertainty within the group. The second was at first two o r

three drops of rain which very quickly turned into an almighty 20-minute downpour, leaving us soaked through as its fierce arrival caught all by surprise. As we rushed to get our

wet gear from our bags it was quite funny to see the African guides grabbing umbrellas from their back packs and popping them up.

18 ON TOP OF AFRICA Our arrival at Horombo huts was a welcome chance to dry off. This would be home for the next two nights, as day three would be an acclimatisation day and an opportunity to take a training walk up to Zebra rocks—a steep 300m track where we would stay for an hour-and-a-half before descending back to camp and resting in and around our huts. This was also Valentine’s day and we all struggled with the lack of signal and ability to speak to our wives and partners back home. I had tried everything to ring home and failed, when suddenly my phone buzzed in my pocket and, to my delight, my wife’s name appeared on my phone. She asked me how it was going and then how long we had been walking before breaking into laughter when I told her we h a d only been

walking for 15 minutes— such was my erratic breathing she thought we’d had been walking for hours. The day was a real reality check for us; we’d seen a second person being stretchered off the mountain by porters, and were all starting to feel the effects of altitude although only in the breathlessness from any form of exercise even a trip to the loo now had us feeling like we had run round the block 20 times.

Day four took us onto the desert saddle between the great m ountains of Mawenzi and Kilimanjaro, where the summit loomed large. I’d been up during the night with a stomach bug and would suffer for the next 18 hours. I fell off the main group, was given medicine and assigned two personal guides to monitor my progress. I eventually arrived at Kibo huts at 4,700m and was sent straight to bed. We were woken at 11pm to prepare for the midnight ascent to the summit. Head torches on, the 13 of us in a line mixed in with additional porters and

guides trudged our way through the thick powdery scree, zig-zagging our way up the crater in complete darkness. We took our final rest and gulped down our warm sweet tea at the caves, a few of us needed various tablets for nausea and headaches before attempting to climb over the Jamaica Rocks before the final ascent to Gilman’s Point. We’d started to break up as a group but each individual had now been assigned porters who would give us support and encouragement to drive us all forward. Unfortunately at Gilman’s Point—one of Kilimanjaro’s two summits—Mark lost his vision and, after taking the safety advice offered, agreed to descend back to Kibo with two guides. Luckily, I’d found some energy and continued the arduous trek with the main group across the slender path to Uhuru summit, clinging to the iced rim of Kibo's d e e p , snowsided crater.

ON TOP OF AFRICA 19 Finally, after a little over seven-and-a-half hours, we made it—all the training, all the early morning starts and stresses of leaving our f am ilies, had been forgotten, seven of us stood

done a lot of training with him and he’d put more effort than most into his preparations. There he was, standing proudly at Gilman’s which many before him had not, only to be

On our return and while I was writing this, Mark said: “The final ascent was extremely demanding and I had to draw on all I had mentally and physically . “I have to thank the guides and a fellow trekker [Jay Kay, who works for Velindre NHS Trust] for getting me up there. “However tough the climb was, nothing could have prepared for the sight of the sun coming up over Mawenzi and the glacier, I started to make my way across to Uhuru, when I was suddenly struck with a thick fog.

there together, tears in many of our eyes, hugging each other in celebration and eventually standing under the sign at Uhuru peak—the highest point in Africa at 5,800m—proudly smiling for our summit photo. We all had our own plans of photos at the top but with the wind blowing at a horrible 45mph and the temperature now at –25C, we took them as quickly as possible. The wind was painful and was starting to take effect as camera and torch batteries died and fingers and hands ached painfully. Fortunately, now the sun was rising and the reality of what we had achieved could be seen far more clearly. The ice walls were taller than houses, so too were the sudden drops off the ridges that we had walked across. Ten of our team made it to Uhuru, with two making it to Stella Point which was the middle of the three National Park certificate points and Mark successfully made it to Giman’s Point. I was so proud of what Mark had achieved, I had

turned back by the porters for his own safety. Kilimanjaro took seven days to climb; five days from the gate to Uhuru peak and then two days down back to the gate. Although it looks reasonable on the map, the trek is compounded by the altitude. It is noticeable for people like us who pretty much live at sea level, as we walked our day through the jungle and the changing landscape of Kilimanjaro, every step we took required more effort. The first four days had difficult elements to them, with the extreme heat of the sun, to the freezing cold of the night, the differing terrain and the ups an downs of the trek. But it is, of course, the final summit night that is difficult to prepare for—it is like walking in soft sand at an extremely steep gradient for six hours to get to Gilman’s point. You then have to carefully make your way across the ice ridges to the final summit at Uhuru peak.

“I realised that this was not good, and was thankful when the guides took me back to the edge of the mountain, and literally ran me back down the scree at the side of the mountain, scary and awesome.” For me personally, being finally back at the hotel after completing the hardest, most physically demanding, emotionally destroying, most difficult, yet most exciting and most exhilarating challenge I had ever undertaken was amazing. Yes, there was certainly something religiously profound about the first shower back at the hotel and the phone calls that rang out through the corridors as we all phoned Darrell and Mark

home. As we sat there enjoying our first Kilimanjaro beer, laughing and sharing our stories, I wondered to myself would I return? Would I do this again and would I suggest to others that they should attempt it? Well, now home and having had time to really take in what we accomplished, my answer would be yes, why not? If it’s something you’d like to do; challenge yourself against; something you’d like to go and see; something that would take you out of your comfort zone and push you to places you’ve never pushed your body and mind to but end up with an immense sense of achievement and a huge smile on your face every time someone asks you about it, or every time I see an email pop up from my newfound lifetime friends and when I think of lost loved ones, then yes. For me and for the trek team that was Kilimanjaro. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be Kilimanjaro, it can be anything, any challenge, just give it a go whatever challenge it is.


Premiere for interactive fi guide cancer patients thro hospital treatment FIRST Minister Carwyn Jones recalled the death of his great-grandfather in 1936 as he launched a ground-breaking interactive patient DVD about bowel cancer. Speaking on his first visit to Prince Charles Hospital, in Merthyr Tydfil, he contrasted the new film, which was shot in the hospital, to the paucity of information available when his ancestor was diagnosed with cancer. “It wasn’t that long ago that patients didn’t get much information about their conditions and they didn’t ask,” he said. “My great-grandfather went into hospital for an operation on some kind of cancer in 1936 and six weeks later he died. “My grandmother died two months ago – between then and 1936 she had no idea what he died of. When I said why didn’t she ask, she said it wasn’t her place to. “We now know that the more information people have, the less frightened they are. It gives me great pleasure to be at Prince Charles Hospital to launch these DVDs – they are the culmination of the process of change from 1936 to 2013.” The first DVD guides patients through their cancer

treatment before they are admitted to hospital, introducing patients with suspected colorectal cancer to the clinicians who will care for them in hospital and to the treatment they will undergo. It also includes a range of interactive features to help patients fully understand what will happen and their treatment. It is hoped the film will help alleviate some of their anxiety about being diagnosed and treated for bowel cancer. Filmed at Prince Charles Hospital, in Merthyr Tydfil, by DigiMed, the DVD follows patients on their journey through their hospital stay and their recovery from surgery, providing a step-by-step visual guide through diagnosis and treatment. A second, shorter film explains the early or enhanced recovery after surgery programme (ERAS), a programme of innovations and development in pre and post-operative care, which allow patients to safely go home within 48 to 72 hours after undergoing bowel surgery. Leading laparoscopic colorectal surgeon Professor PN Haray, who devised the films, said: “The colorectal cancer patient DVD will be given to people who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer or are strongly sus-

pected to have it, before they come to hospital. “This can be a very difficult time, not just for the patient themselves, but also for their family. We created this film, which takes them through the process of investigations, tests and treatment, to support them. “This film has been made possible by the help of many staff and patients at Prince Charles Hospital and I hope it gives people an insight into what to expect when they are being diagnosed and treated for bowel cancer.” Graham Clarke, a patient who has been treated by the team at Prince Charles Hospital, said: “They gave me a DVD to look at. There is lots of information, which is really good from my perspective, as I felt the more I have on this matter, the clearer picture I have of it and that will hopefully give me much more confidence.”

members of staff at Prince Charles Hospital who will be involved in their treatment. The original film, which was also made by DigiMed, was launched five years ago and won an NHS Wales Award and a UK-wide Patient Experience award. David Brown, from DigiMed, said: “Working on the production of the second version of the patient information DVD has once again been a privilege and a humbling experience. “This time we’ve been able to hear directly from patients who watched the first DVD and knowing how much it helped them through their own journey has spurred us on to make this version even more informative and interactive.”

And Kay Rees, a patient who is featured in the film, said: “I’m looking forward to being fit and healthy, that's my main thing - eat well, sleep well and enjoy my life because I’ve been given it b a c k . ”

The second film, which is also fully interactive, covers the early (or enhanced) recovery after surgery (ERAS) programme – a collection of procedures, improvements in care and measures, which allows patients, who have major colorectal surgery, to be operated on and discharged within 48 to 72 hours.

This is the second version of the colorectal cancer DVD to be made and covers updates in treatment and techniques, as well as introducing patients to new

As well as allowing patients to return home sooner, ERAS helps to reduce the risk of people developing post-operative complications associated with pro-


ilm to ough

“We now know that the more information people have, the less frightened they are.” Carwyn Jones, First Minister

longed immobilisation, which can result in thrombo -embolic problems as well as chest infections. Mel Jehu, chairman of Cwm Taf Community Health Council, who helped to develop the colorectal cancer DVD, said: “I’m delighted the CHC has been involved in this exciting project, which is an excellent initiative and will help to enhance the patient experience.” A trailer of the patient bowel cancer DVD can be viewed on Cwm Taf Health Board’s You Tube channel cwmtafhb

“We created this film, which takes them through the process of investigations, tests and treatment, to support them.” Professor Haray, Surgeon


Five minutes with Lynne MillerMiller-Jones Hospital. I worked as a locum consultant at the cystic fibrosis unit at UHW then as a consultant paediatrician (general paediatrics, neonates and diabetes) since 1999, initially at East Glamorgan and then the Royal G lamorga n Hospital. I was a college tutor until 2009 and now I’m an undergraduate tutor. Name: Lynne MillarJones Age: 50 Job title: Consultant paediatrician, clinical director, undergraduate tutor What’s a typical working day like for you? Depends which week. If I am consultant of the week I spend all day on the general paediatric wards and also cover the neonatal unit in the afternoon. If it is not consultant of the week, my clinical duties involve three or four clinics a week, a neonatal ward round and covering the neonatal unit one morning a week. A couple of sessions

doing clinical paperwork, examinations of children for alleged sexual abuse, dealing with complaints. Audit, teaching medical students, nurses, doctors, APLS. Establishing an insulin pump therapy service. Attending postgraduate teaching sessions. Attending case conferences. And now lots of other meetings. So, in a word, busy. What’s been your career to date? I qualified from Cardiff 1988, trained in Cardiff Royal Infirmary, Llandough and UHW as an SHO and registrar. I was a cystic fibrosis research fellow at UHW for two years and achieved MD. I was a senior registrar at UHW and East Glamorgan

Who or what inspired you to work for the NHS and Cwm Taf Health Board, in particular? I didn’t want to initially, I went to medical school with a different career in mind but did paediatrics and loved it. One paediatrician in particular inspired me and I wanted to work with her and managed to get on a rotation I wanted. I enjoyed East Glamorgan Hospital and when Professor Ansari retired I applied for his job as I liked the p eop le and t he hospital.

What’s the best thing about your job? Getting the children and families to trust me treat them properly. What’s your ambition for your time as a clinical director? To be an excellent one and try and change negative people into positive people to improve the service. What three words best describe you? I worry, I have high standards, I like a joke Where’s your favourite place in the world? Maldives And finally, describe your perfect weekend. Chill on Friday night with a drink of wine in front of the television. Saturday and Sunday have to be f u l l . E i t h e r shopping, eating out and sport or DIY (gardening and decorating or making curtains). I hate having nothing to do. I have to have a plan on a Friday night about what we’re doing over the weekend. I’m up at 7am at the latest on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday evening is movie night with our son.

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Six years ago, if you'd told me I’d have done five marathons before my 50th birthday, I would have thought you completely mad. This is the girl who hated cross country running in school, avoided the running machine in the gym at all costs and, after having two beautiful daughters, was heading towards a size 16-plus with frightening speed.

Radcliffe and Mo Farrah— was I mad?

However, after a lifechanging event in 2004 when my mother-in-law was diagnosed and died of lung cancer within 10 days (and she’d never smoked in her life), I decided a year later to try and run the Race for Life - a 5k cancer charity run - which was on her birthday. It seemed a good way to raise money for charity and celebrate her life.

The rest is history as they say and I’ve never looked back. I’m still running today, with my fifth marathon just ahead of me - the 2013 London Marathon. I even have small trophy cabinet for my efforts.

To my amazement, I found I could get round the course running, just about in one piece, and I actually quite enjoyed it! The atmosphere was great with thousands of women, children and cheering families all enjoying the day and encouraging those sprinting, running, jogging and walking the distance. We all had a medal at the end and the sense of achievement was fantastic. That was when I started to get bitten by the running bug. My next major challenge was joining a local running club. I enjoyed going on short runs but wasn’t so keen going on my own, particularly as the evenings were starting to get darker. I found the details of a local running club online and can still remember standing on the steps of a local leisure centre on a Tuesday night introducing myself to some local runners whom I was convinced must be the close family of Paula

However, week after week, some of the guys stuck with me at the back of the pack and I ran red-faced and panting, first three miles, then four, then five and then six miles - a 10k distance I was proudly told, which meant I was ready for a local race if I fancied one. So I had a go.

One of the few benefits of getting older is that there is l es s competition in many races, particularly for ladies in the older age categories, there just don't seem to be so many of us, which is a shame but I hope slowly changing. In the first London Marathon in 1981, there were around 300 women who ran out of a total of approximately 7,500 runners. In 2012, there were around 13,000 women who finished the race out of approxim ately 37,500 runners and I was one of them. The moral of my story therefore is “never say never” anything is possible and I really believe that. What I like about running is that it is commensurate with the effort that you put in - that is the reward you will get out - and it helps in so many ways. It keeps you trim, promotes good mental health and has brought me some great, new friends. Go on, have a go… you may never look back!


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