Saturday 25th June 2016 – Summer Canal Boat Outing

Like our summer outing last year, this was a wonderful day out. We hired for the afternoon a canal boat, the Sheldrake III from Waterways Experiences. Waterways Experiences are a registered charity. Their mission is to promote well-being by providing affordable canal boat trips particularly for the disadvantaged. Thus the boat was fully wheelchair friendly, with an internal lift which really made it easy for our members who cannot or have difficulty managing steps inside the boat.

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Again like last year probably the biggest problem of the whole day was that our caterer, Claire Carpentier, ensured we were too well catered for! Claire told us that none of us would go hungry and she was correct!

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We departed from Nash Mills at about 1:00 and sailed south towards Hunton Bridge. The Waterways crew teasingly told us they had arranged good weather for us, and apart from maybe 5-10 minutes of heavy rain we were able to enjoy a really sunny afternoon. Deepak kindly brought along some Indian delicacies both sweet and spicy!! We arrived back at Nash Mills bang on schedule at 5:00.

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All in all, it was a great afternoon out, and one that we are delighted we repeated. We can wholeheartedly recommend Waterways Experiences (http://wexp.org.uk/) to other branches and support groups.

If you would like to see more pictures of the trip, enjoy the following slide show.

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Saturday 16th April 2016 – Cream Tea and review on potential benefits of coenzyme Q10

Our most recent event was a Cream Tea at the West Lodge Park Hotel, Cockfosters. Over the years cream teas have proven to be popular, but finding good venues has been difficult. The West Lodge Park Hotel is a gorgeous venue set in 35 acres of countryside that includes an arboretum. The hotel looked after us really well with an endless supply of tea and coffee accompanied by some really yummy fresh baked scones.

We were joined by Iain Hargreaves and Luke Wainwright two researchers from the Neurometabolic Unit, The National Hospital, UCLH Queen Square. They shared with us the work they were doing on coenzyme Q10 deficiency at the cellular level and how to try and get coenzyme Q10 through the blood-brain barrier. What was really excellent, was that we were in our own private room the King Charles Room. This allowed us to have a really good discussion with Iain and Luke and about the possible benefits coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) could have for those with Ataxia. Iain and Luke have a detailed presenation on their work that is really suitable for fellow researchers, however some of the slides in their prsenation do explain the cerebellum and the blood-brain barrier. Please click on the following link to see their work CQ10.

As you can see from the following pictures we all had a great and informative time.

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Saturday 19th March 2016 – “Informal get-together”

On Saturday we had our second informal “get together” of 2016. Like our first it was very well attended taking over 3 tables at the Travellers Rest. It was great to welcome not just the “regulars” but to welcome back folk who we haven’t seen for some time. As always the pub looked after us very well and catered for those who brought along an appetite.

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Saturday 20th February 2016 – “Annual General Meeting”

On Saturday 20th February we had our annual general meeting (AGM). This was the opportunity for The Committee to share with the branch members an update about the branch and to solicit input from branch members.

Talita our Chairperson welcomed everyone and reminded folk who have a computer that if they want to stay up to date with what is happening in the branch, the branch’s website is the place to go. Tony our Treasurer reviewed the branch’s financial situation, and we are in a very healthy situation and should be able at the end of the financial year to make a good contribution to Ataxia UK. Additionally, Tony reviewed some of the major events that were held by the branch in the last year and sought input for our main summer event. Talita reviewed the membership of the branch committee and the branch unanimously endorsed that existing members of the committee should remain in their current roles. Our branch secretary Pritesh Pastakia and his wife Krishna have moved to Birmingham. Thus the committee needed to recruit at least one additional person. Melanie Keaney had expressed a desire to assist the committee thus, she was formally asked to join the committee as branch secretary, an appointment that was fully supported by the branch members at the AGM. We had some good suggestions from our members about expanding our website to include information about blue badge renewal, computer support, and a list of agencies that can provide assistance.

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Following the “official” business of the AGM we were then able to have some fun, starting with lunch, something that is always popular! We had a raffle and Deanna organised a game of Bingo. This was great fun as she had found a program for her iPad that had all the bingo calls. I think we all learnt a lot, after all who knew that 30 is Dirty Gertie, and 44 is droopy drawers?

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Saturday 16th January 2016 – “Informal get-together”

On Saturday we had our first meeting of 2016. Given it was a very cold January day we weren’t expecting as great turnout, but much to our delight we managed to occupy nearly 3 tables at the Travellers Rest. The pub was very quiet and as always looked after us well, particularly those who brought along an appetite!

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Sunday 20th December 2015 – Pantomime “Peter Pan”

Twenty-two of us went to see Wendy, John and Michael in their adventures with Tinkerbell, and Peter Pan! We saw them battle pirates, meet mermaids, and rescue Tiger Lilly from the evil Captain Hook! As in previous years the pantomime at St. Albans Arena was excellent. Compared to previous years the staging was more ambitious and we really did see Peter Pan fly, (well with the help of a wire!).

Ice creams were yummy with a bigger choice of flavours this year. We all had a great time and roll on next December for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Just look at these smiling faces!

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Saturday 28th November 2015 – Talk on Psychology & Overview of Benefit Changes

Deepak was kind enough to host the event at his house where we heard from two speakers, Terry Feldman and Gladys Janes. Terry gave us an introduction to psychology, and Gladys reviewed the latest changes to the benefit system.

Terry’s background is surprising varied. In his working career, he has been an estate agent, greeting card salesman and local government housing officer. In 1996, somewhat late in life, he decided to eradicate an educational inferiority complex and worked for a psychology degree with the Open University. In 2006 he attained a Masters in the same subject. Thereafter he served a short term in Pentonville Prison (working as a psychologist, not staying as a resident). Later, he spent a year teaching psychology to A-level students at a local Secondary School. He is a regular speaker to U3A groups and kindly agreed to give us an overview of psychology. It is impossible to in this brief write up to do justice to what he shared. For those who would like to hear again what Terry shared with us, or for those who could not attend and would like to hear what he shared, it is available below.

Gladys is a member of the Welfare and Benefits team working at the Harrow Association of Disabled People (HAD). HAD’s mission is to promote and bring about inclusion and equality for all disabled people in all areas of life. Gladys has worked for HAD for over 40 years and shared with us an update about changes in the benefits system. It is impossible to in this brief write up to do justice to what she shared. For those who would like to hear again what Gladys shared with us, or for those who could not attend and would like to hear what she shared, it is available below.

As always Deepak was an excellent host keeping us well fed and watered, supplemented by some sumptuous cakes baked by Gillian. The following picture captures some of our branch looking very studious!

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Saturday 17th October 2015 – Lunch at the RAF Museum HendonD810 DSC_0008

The above picture is not the latest form of transport organised by the branch to get us to meetings! It was taken during our recent visit to the RAF Museum in Hendon. We had an excellent turnout for lunch and it was pleasure to welcome a new member to our midst. The food was simple, but as always the company was great! As you can see from the following pics a good time was had by all.

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Saturday 13th June 2015 – Summer Canal Boat Outing

Without exaggeration this was a wonderful day out. We hired for the afternoon a canal boat, the Sheldrake III from Waterways Experiences. Waterways Experiences are a registered charity. Their mission is to promote well-being by providing affordable canal boat trips particularly for the disadvantaged. Thus the boat was fully wheelchair friendly, with an internal lift which really made it easy for our members who cannot or have difficulty managing steps inside the boat.

Probably the biggest problem of the whole day was that we over catered. We were warned that the fish and chip portions that we had delivered to the boat at lunch time were going to be large, that was an understatement! We had plenty of chips left over, however we were delighted to share them with some passing canoeists and the crew of the Sheldrake III who were so welcoming and supportive of our needs. They encouraged us to help in the sailing of the boat and the operation of the locks.

We were delighted to be able to welcome Julie Vallortigara a Research Officer from Ataxia UK who joined us for the afternoon. She shared with us an update about Ataxia UK in its 50th year.

We departed from Nash Mills at about 1:30 and sailed south towards Hunton Bridge. While the weather was not ideal it was good enough for some of us to go up on deck and disembark at the locks to help with their operation. We had afternoon tea at about 3:45 with some great yummy cakes made by Gillian and some Indian delicacies (spicy!!) brought by Deepak

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All in all it was a tremendous afternoon out, and it is definitely the sort of outing we would like to repeat. We can wholeheartedly recommend Waterways Experiences (http://wexp.org.uk/) to other branches and support groups. They will encourage you to assist in the sailing of the boat or will leave you to do your own thing on board as the following picture shows!

If you would like to see more pictures of the trip, enjoy the following slide show.

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