A Reason to Celebrate! (with John Durrant)

BREAKING NEWS! To celebrate our recent grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, we are delighted to share this heart-warming blog entry by John Durrant, a driving force behind the Burgh Castle Almanac and one of our Expert Advisory Board members. If you would like to read more of John’s entries, you can visit his blog here: https://livingmentalhealth.com/blog


Hey everyone. I hope you’re all well and in good mental health today. I’m going to talk to you about some very exciting news I received on Friday, 19 March, by phone call…

On that day I had to cancel a podcast I was doing because my M.E. was playing up. I just wanted to sleep, so I wouldn’t have been 100%, and that wouldn’t have been fair on the person I was interviewing. I woke up at 2pm in the afternoon, made some lunch and then did the washing up. I was flicking through channels on the television when my phone rang. It was Laura Drysdale, founder of the Restoration Trust. She said: “I have some news for you, John. The Lottery have awarded us the money to put on more events through the Burgh Castle Almanac Gathering.” Well, that made my day. I went from having no energy to being on a high, because I know how much the project has done for me and the other members of the group. Laura finished the call and I sent her a text saying, “Gettttttt in! I’m absolutely buzzing!”

All over the weekend I was thinking about what we can do in these additional sessions as lockdown finishes. I’m excited to see everyone face to face, as it’s so different from seeing them on a laptop screen. We can also now give proper peer support to people, which will be amazing. I really think I’m one of the lucky ones: I have a partner and a dog, so during lockdown I haven’t been on my own. These new Burgh Castle sessions, however, will be a much needed boost to other people’s mental health and wellbeing.

For me – and I don’t know about the rest of the group, because I haven’t posted or asked them yet – but if we could get ‘Doctor Dance’ back for our first group meeting, to celebrate being able to meet up again, that would be stupendous. I can’t dance, but when Doctor Peter Lovatt visited before, it was one of my favourite sessions. After that, we’ll see; I’m so excited.

The Burgh Castle Almanac Gathering has given me back both my connection to nature and feeling of being part of a community. You were never judged: if you didn’t attend a session, then Facebook posts about the session meant you didn’t feel left out. I would love to take this project into schools, as well as other places, as I feel a lot of youngsters – as well as adults – can learn from it. To find out more about the project here, follow the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODVpf0bwVQI&ab_channel=TheRestorationTrust

Thank you for reading, and I wish you all have good mental health.

Blog entry by John Durrant

If you would like to learn more about Burgh Castle Almanac, you can visit the BCA website by clicking this link: http://burghcastlealmanac.org/ or follow the provided link above to watch our ‘The Return of Happy Times’ short film.

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