Born and brought up in a wee coal exporting and fishing village (Amble, Northumberland) in the last century, I qualified as a Quantity Surveyor in 1968 moving on in 1976 to join Royal Dutch Shell, retiring as a Commercial and Project Services Manager in 2007 having worked in a number of different and diverse countries and cultures.
Responsible for governance of the charity and its finances. Prior to retirement from Shell plc, roles included responsibility for ensuring on-demand access for mental health and wellbeing awareness and support for staff particularly in remote locations working.
Appointed as trustee in April 2022.
Pawpalz was created by Toby McKillop after realising the power of peer support while on a walk with the mutts.
I woke up contemplating suicide, I felt as if I’d reached the end of my resilience towards the hurt I was feeling and that there was only one option left.
Ebz and myself can see Bennachie from our cottage and something about that mountain on that day was calling us. I said out loud to ebby “we are climbing that mountain today and when we get to the top we are going to let the wind blow away all the bad and we will come down feeling better”.
This selfie was taken at the top of Bennachie and it encapsulates exactly how I was feeling, on top of the world with my pal by my side!! Being in recovery I really noticed the change in how I was feeling, from suicidal despair to just plain joy, I started thinking about why this was working for me, the dogs, nature, the peace and just enjoying the moment.
By the time we reached the bottom of Bennachie the beginnings of an idea called Pawpalz had formed in my head, what had just worked for me, what had just brought me back from the brink, might just work for others I thought.
This day will always be hugely significant for me, I’d had enough of the pain and hurt, I’d had enough of feeling alone, I’d had enough, but whether it was serendipity or just plain luck, that walk up Bennachie saved my life and inspired an idea that continues to have the same effect on many others as it had on me that day!!