Celebration Day 29th October 2018 – West Town Farm, Exeter

Celebration Day 29th October 2018 – West Town Farm, Exeter

Delegates gathered at West Town Farm’s gorgeous barn classrooms, bursting with a pumpkin harvest and filled with happy chatter over steaming cups of tea and coffee. Recovery Devon’s favourite “twenty second hugs” were swapped by old friends, and newcomers were welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm. The indoor conference room was soon packed with people shedding scarves and bobble hats as they settled by the giant wood burner ready for the day’s agenda. Two announcements from CEO James Wooldridge set the tone for a day of celebration. Firstly, the Development Fund will run again in 2019, now establishing itself as a relied-upon seed for growing community recovery projects in Devon. The board recognised that existing fund winners had secured further funding due to Recovery Devon’s initial backing, with projects that tied into Devon Recovery Learning Community courses, or other NHS services, being particularly long-lived and self-sustaining.

“Recovery is a narrative movement, and whilst everyone’s story is unique, you’ll still find yourself within the covers.”

Recovery Devon co-founder Glenn Roberts next announced that “Riding the Storms,” a companion piece to 2012’s  “Beyond the Storms,” had today reached its crowd-funded goal. Copies can now be distributed freely to those who most need them. The two anthologies complement one another – the first with accounts of moving past mental illness, and the second sharing stories that walk shoulder to shoulder with readers currently living through mental distress. Glenn explained, “Recovery is a narrative movement, and whilst everyone’s story is unique, you’ll still find yourself within these covers.” The meeting recognised all our funders, and Emily Davey and Judith Belam, for their efforts. Fund winners then presented their projects. SPLITZ showcased “Recovery Sessions” they had offered to young people experiencing domestic abuse, using an inclusive, whole-family approach to building self-esteem and hope. Belinda Seward described how Horsemanship for Health offered patients at Langdon Hospital the impact of equine therapy; “a chance for being, rather than doing.” John Bryant beamed in via video on the djembe to describe the power of community drumming, and Haidee Dampney offered her personal journey with yoga for holistic health. Many participants in her funded projects had gone on to a daily practice. After a delicious lunch, Cindy Rapson demonstrated her project’s Recovery Quilt, a huge, therapeutic, work in progress for an inspiring hospital display. Margaret Turner’s “Reading to Recovery” group offered a safe space as a vehicle for sharing the joys and discoveries of reading, and board member Debbie Williams presented Mental Health Muscle’s total-person approach to wellness – “It’s not about what’s the matter with you, it’s about what matters to you.” The final few presentations included a project report from SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone), followed by a group connection experience to demonstrate case studies from the Hakeford Woods “Wellbeing in Nature” project. Themes of connection were woven by Dawlish’s “Conscious Community Workshops,” presented by Donna Poade and Julie Horsley. ”People want to gather – it is a sacred need to be met and to be heard.”   Our gathering closed with a setting-sun farm walk, and then homeward with hearts and minds ready for recovery once more.

Thank you to Organic Arts and West Town Farm for hosting our celebration.