Sunday, 18 May 2008


Last week I was at a conference for a day. To be honest I wasn't really looking forward to it much. Aye, I expected some interesting presentations; and, aye, it would be good to catch up with people that I only ever seem to see at these sort of things; and, aye, a wee bit of time thinking about the 'bigger picture' rather than the day-to-day minutiae of Sleepy Hollow would be good. But there was that nagging doubt about priorities and the added value of a day out of the office etc, etc.

I should say that I'm normally a big advocate of cpd activities, so this was an unusual mood for me. Especially since a friend of mine was taking on the role of President of our association at the conference. But I was giving up a role that I've held for a couple of years, and while I'm glad to be released from the responsibility, I guess I will miss it (a wee bit).

Anyway, the first session was one of those "in conversation" things. Famous presenter talks to someone with an amazing personal story etc, etc, etc.

It was brilliant - and snapped me out of my truculent mood. The presenter - Sally Magnusson - was superb. Probing, insightful, well-researched and deft of touch - lightening the mood when emotions were heightened.

But the subject was truly inspirational. He's a guy named Jamie Andrew - he's a mountaineer who got caught in a storm at the top of a French alp in the middle of winter for five days! His climbing partner died and Jamie had such severe frostbite that both feet and both hands had to be amputated. He told his story with humour and insight - aware that what he did was risky, but not overly risky in his view. The remarkable part though is how he has recovered. He has climbed again, including ice climbing; run marathons, completed an iron-man triathlon; snowboarded; skiied; and adopted an incredible, positive attitude. You can find out more at his website, which also contains links to the charity that he has co-founded.

Amongst other things that he talked about:

"The flame of passion [for mountaineering] hadn't been extinguished."

"It's a hugely important part of being a human being to push oneself."

"There's always a solution out there."

"Make the most of your strengths and work around the weaknesses."

An amazing story and an amazing man - truly inspirational. I'm glad that I went to the conference!


lucy said...

wow! his story leaves me speechless.

AnneDroid said...

His mum taught at the school I went to. He's a courageous guy. He visited someone who had just lost her hands through meningitis and told her all about how much he is still able to do, which gave her hope.