Just as people are beginning to re-appear at their desks I am about to beetle off to France for a couple of weeks, first walking in the Cevenne and then staying with friends. Bad timing as usual with autumn meetings, conferences and funding deadlines looming but having been back in the saddle looking after the DCN office whilst others have been away, I feel in need of a break. Just supporting Peter and his wife during a health crisis with our lovely grand-daughter earlier this week has added more grey to my spikes. Thank goodness they are now all safely on a flight to a wonderful holiday island.
It’s been an interesting week – apart from the anxiety about the baby (now a lively one year old) – Walter and I have spent hours trying to cram as many positive aspects of DCN’s work as possible into the narrow character limitations on an application for a GSK/Kings Fund Impact Award. Whilst most funding applications demand that new and innovative projects are put forward, this Award is different in that it recognises past and current achievement. DCN is an almost unique organisation and is undoubtedly highly creative in the ways in which it seeks to understand needs and provide services, but these Awards are much sought after in the health sector and we work in a tiny niche area. We shall see.
I also met up with Alison Bagshawe who runs the egg donation service Altrui. In a variety of ways Alison recruits altruistic egg donors for women/couples whose only chance of having or adding to their family is by egg donation. Apparently there is no one sure way of recruiting the right donor but Alison puts many hours of time into supporting both recipients and donors and trying to make the system work for all parties. It is painstaking, time consuming work but Alison has enormous integrity and takes great pride in getting it right. And get it right she mostly does with an impressive on-going pregnancy rate of 72 per cent.
And to keep you in touch with The Archers older mother story, it was revealed tonight that the baby that Vicki is carrying definitely has Down Syndrome. True to the personalities given to them by the writers Mike is anxious, looking ahead and seeing difficulties; Vicki is optimistic, hearing more of the good rather than the bad news offered by the Consultant. She is determined not to have a termination, Mike is not so sure. The doctor also offered the information that most older mothers do decide to go ahead with the pregnancy. A decision will need to be made very soon and no doubt will happen whilst we are out of Radio 4 range. The story is being handled well and I look forward to catching up when we get back.
As soon as we get back from France Walter, as Chair of DCN, will be plunging into having to produce a response to the consultation on the future of the HFEA; hopefully DCN’s new website will have gone live in our absence and the national conference in Bristol will be coming up quickly on 6th October. The topic is Talking with Friends and Family about Donor Conception and I am hoping to recruit people there to talk with me about their experiences, towards the writing of the new booklets to be funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The first meeting of the group who will decide what sort of resource we will be producing for 8 -12 year olds (another Nuffield funded project) will meet in the third week in September. But the very first appointment on our return from France is a 24 hour visit to Dublin to talk with Irish counsellors who are keen to learn about how a family building approach could improve the service they and the clinics they work with in Ireland offer people needing donor conception. On the 19th September our lovely Zannah has the graduation ceremony for her Anthropology degree… and the next weekend we are going to a wedding in Rome and then holding a party for Walter’s and my 30th wedding anniversary at the end of the month. I’m exhausted already…
I need a holiday.