MS Society Progress Meeting August 24th, 2020

I met with Zouhare Holden (Marketing and Brand Manager) and Jenny Peninger (Marketing and Social Media) who will be working with me to see if we can use my MA project to help people within the MS community. Tom Shelston, who I met two weeks ago, set up the meeting and was on the call.

I told the story of my life over the last two years. It included what happened to my wife Karen and my own experience which led to the project for the MA. I took them through the ‘Show and Tell’ material from last week to show the current status of the project.

We discussed how my experience and the MA project could be helpful to people in the MS community. I talked about not knowing where to go in my lowest moments. The good message is I am still here and currently happy and moving on with life. This seemed unimaginable both before and after the death of Karen. Knowing how painful my own experience was could be reassuring to people in the same situation now.

Zouhare asked what was the story I wanted to tell. I said there are two answers. One is artistically to produce a work that people can project their own story on to and any story is ok. The other is wanting to share my experience with others who may be going through a similar experience now. The latter I believe can be helpful to people in the situation I was in.

They agreed the story is a powerful one, very open and genuine and could help people. One idea they proposed was to include my work in their magazine which has a circulation of 26,000 MS Society members. Zouhare will see if this can be on the editorial board meeting on Thursday this week.

We finished with one potential stumbling block raised by Tom. The MS Society has no position on right to die so any work presented must not be deemed to be presenting a position. He is going to check with the management how this story would be perceived. I said my project was neutral on the choice but my wife making her choice was part of my experience. He also needs to check if working with Dignity in Dying presents a problem as that could be seen as indirectly supporting a position.

I promised to get back to him on what form any work with Dignity in Dying would take. I also said if I had to choose then I will go with the MS Society. My preference would be to be able to go with both with each providing their own wrapper on the artistic work setting out my personal experience.

I let them know I am creating an edit for the FORMAT21 open call under the title ‘Control’ due mid September which will give another idea of how the work is shaping up. I will work with Jenny and Zouhare to provide what they need and give updates on my work.

Categories: Final Major Project, Project Development FMP

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.