The Herb Society Chairperson, Trustee, Newsletter Writer and Volunteer
I can’t remember a time when herbs were not part of my life. As a small child I accompanied my mother to pick nettles for meals, I thought eating nettles was perfectly normal, until in my early teens a schoolfriend came back after school for tea with me, declared she had never eaten nettles and the look of horror on her face alerted me too perhaps not everyone did this.
I was brought up with a huge sense of awareness of what was growing and seasonally going on around me. I knew the different smells and shapes of trees, leaves, and wildflowers. I knew what each bird call was, and which were distress calls, also what the constellations of stars were in the sky, and I knew the sheer joy of finding edible berries like bilberries, on the long walks up and down fells mostly in Cumbria (Cumberland as it was then), that made up our family holidays. I just always knew how to make cordials from elderflowers and sticky chutneys from ripe damsons, because it was simply how we were. As I got older, I learned more, and I am still learning. Each day is a school day and it’s still stimulating and exciting
I always wanted to be a herbalist, but at 19 found there was no way I could support the cost of my training and maintain my independence. So, I eventually headed to London and ended up in the City, making a living in the Financial Services sector. However, I always knew something was missing in my life. As I approached 50, I knew what I needed to do. I had been fortunate by then to have sufficient funds to pay for my training and I left my career behind me to pursue my passion. After qualifying I set up and started a practice in a small rural community in Cheshire, where a lot of my patients are farmers, their wives or closely involved in local rural village life. I am a community herbalist; I treat whatever I am asked to treat. I step in when first aid is needed and I’m there for whoever finds their way to my door, for whatever reason.
I am lucky to have just under 1 acre of what is now my physic garden. I grow only what I can’t forage for locally. I feel satisfaction of seeing seeds germinating and then knowing the plant as it matures – it makes me a better herbalist, because through this hands-on involvement, I understand my herbs better. The many hours spent growing, harvesting, processing, and medicine-making, are the embodiment of satisfaction – until that is, those same herbs treat a patient and cure them of their problems – then that is the ultimate pleasure – that no amount of money could ever buy.
I run workshops and show people how to make their own herbal preparations. I organise and lead herb walks and I give talks all around the area on many aspects of herbs and their health-giving benefits. I can safely say I have never been happier. Herbs have fulfilled my life and kept me healthy.
The opportunity to step into the Chair was not planned, I just knew that the need was great for someone to step in – and this was a Charity for whom I volunteered, and I cared for deeply. I desperately want it to grow and shine once again and to build a large community of like-minded people, all with a common interest in herbs – which expands far, far further then my own area of professional focus. Having in my previous career chaired an industry body for several years, I knew I had the skills and that they were being called for once again. It’s my absolute pleasure to hold this position. I hope the passion I have for herbs will shine through and reach each and every one of our members and enrich their lives, in the same way herbs have enriched my own.