Thursday 27 June 2013

Meet the Boss

Our new Chief Exec, Dr Penny Woods came to Sophia Gardens in Cardiff to meet with all the Breathe Easy group officers. Her first words were "call me Penny" so we shall.
Penny outlined the cuts we are going to have to make in the current financial climate, in order to ensure that our charity will continue to function in supporting all people in England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland, who are living with lung disease.
So it gave us great pleasure to be able to present £3,317:00 to Patrick Flood-Page (chairman of BLF Wales) and Penny. As they say "Every little helps."

Monday 24 June 2013

Healthy eating

We all know what we should eat, but how many of us stick to a really healthy diet ? Julie Davies told us all about the things we shouldn't eat - too much sugar, salt and fat and lots of other stuff - and all the things we should eat - such as fruit, vegetables, grains and seeds. I love all those good things but I like a lot of the bad things too.

I think the best message Julie had for us was to think back to what out parents and grandparents ate (our age group is 55+). People who lived through the war and had to cope with rationing and shortages rarely put on weight, let alone become obese. Meat was rationed so they only ate small portions. Many people had their own gardens and grew their own vegetables and fruits, so they were plentiful.

I am going to try, I really am but I know it will be difficult so I will try to make my binges few and far between. Then with my three visits to the gym a week I might manage to get rid of some of my middle age spread, if not all of it.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

An honour

I was very proud last night to be presented with an award for volunteer of the year at Neath Port Talbot CVS. It was a lovely evening and wonderful to see so many young people being recognised for giving their time freely to help others.


Big Pit - Blaenavon

Yesterday, some of our group had a wonderful day out at the Big Pit in Blaenavon. For those of you who have never visited it's a must - please make the effort and go.

Three of us went down the coal mine and said what a great experience it was.

 The rest stayed on the surface, visited the pit head baths and looked at the museum on mining through the ages, ending with the controversial miner's strike which saw the end of coal mining in South Wales.

We finished our visit with lunch in the miner's canteen and a browse around the shop before we left to go home, tired and happy.

Passenger assistance

I don't write about myself too often - this blog is mostly about the Breathe Easy group and its activities. However I have just come back from a cruise in the central Mediterranean, using my portable oxygen concentrator, and found a remarkable lack of assistance, or even concern, for disabled passengers in some of the ports we visited, namely Venice and Valencia.
Both of these ports have just installed new facilities for cruise liners, in the shape of an air bridge into the port buildings.

this gives an idea of the distance we had to walk in Valencia and there is the same distance again to get through the building and out to the buses and taxis. It was a similar story in Venice.

Here is a copy of the letter I have sent to the Venice Port Authority and a similar one to Valencia -


Dear Sir

I recently visited the lovely city of Venice on the P and O cruise ship, MV Oriana. I am a disabled passenger and was dismayed at the lack of facilities to assist disabled passengers within the port area.

If I had arrived in your city by air, there would have been assistance for me in the form of a wheelchair, or electric buggy, from the aeroplane, through the airport to the cars, buses and taxis outside, as there is in all international airports these days. In the port there was no help at all and no one to ask for help either. There was an extremely long walk on return to the Oriana on the airbridge, made even longer by the dogleg at the end of it. I was not the only passenger distressed by this.

The average age of passenger on the cruise I was on was 75 years and this is quite common. Cruising is a gentle way for older people and disabled people to travel, which made the lack of facilities to help us use your port even more disappointing. In the West Indies last year, on a similar aged cruise, with similar distances to walk, there was a small land train in one port, some wheelchairs in others. These were well used and the operators were rewarded by grateful passengers who had enjoyed their time in the islands confident that they would get the help they needed for the long walk back to the ship.

If this is the case in all Italian ports it means that I will be unable to visit Italy again as my medical condition means that I should avoid flying, making cruising the ideal way for me to travel. Please consider having some kind of assistance to help the less able visit your country.    

If anyone else has had similar experiences, please leave a comment or write to the ports concerned. Needless to say, I have received no reply from either of the ports