Adult Achievement Awards 2012

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I recently was present at the Kingston upon Thames, Rotary Club’s Adult Achievement Awards, held once a year in the Royal Borough of Kingston’s Guild Hall.

It is so humbling to listen to some of the stories, of those who had experienced difficulties in their life, yet overcame them to attain further education to better themselves.

Here is a small video made from the photographs I took of the evening.

Adult Achiever Awards 2012 from Phillip Holt on Vimeo.

Presentations were given by the Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston, Barry O’Mahony, Club President Anne McCormack and Rotarian Peter Gray.

Dover Castle, English Heritage

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The first sight many people see of the UK, or England in particular, are the White Cliffs of Dover. These are the chalk cliffs on the English side of the Strait of Dover, (in French Pas de Calais), and is the narrowest part of the English Channel at some 21 miles (34 km). At this distance it is possible on a clear day to see the coast of the other country, and at night see the lights over the other side, even as one local Dover person told me, the car lights as they travel along the French coast roads.
The White Cliffs of Dover
So, the first sight as people catching the ferry plying the Channel are the brilliant white chalk of the cliffs, and certainly on the many returning flights to the UK, as I look down to catch a glimpse of home, the white cliffs stand out above anything else on a cloudless day.
Atop the cliffs of Dover has been a significant position for man since before the Roman’s invaded, as a lookout position to repel invaders, place for navigation, a place for communication.
In the 1180’s, the then King of England and provinces of France, (King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou), Henry II, built a castle on top of the cliffs at Dover, and over the next 800 years, the buildings and grounds have been adapted to the changing needs and demands.
Dover Castle of Henry II
On my first visit to Dover Castle, I caught the high speed train (130 mph, 210 kph), from London, and arriving at Dover Priory train station it was a short walk, but very steep climb to The Castle. (Listen to my hypnotic The Castle CD).
My first impression was, “this is not a real castle, it is not in ruins“, it is pristine unlike many other British castle I have visited. Despite the bombardment in the Second World War, it is said that Hitler had stated that the castle should not be attacked as he wanted it as a base for himself, the buildings where like they had just been completed.
So Henry II built his castle to impressed his many foreign guests, as was said, the castle was built as a bed and breakfast, an overnight hotel, as well as a garrison, and as people crossed from France, the elegance and richness would show what a powerful King he was.
Inside the battlement walls, the buildings are well maintained, it was still a military garrison until it was handed over to the Ministry of Works in 1963, and then onto English Heritage who now run the castle. But, it is not only the buildings above ground, there are extensive secret tunnels cut into the chalk, which housed up-to 2,000 persons in WWII, including a hospital, now mostly open to the public, exhibiting the history they have played over the years. The sights, sounds and smells are recreated to give a great understanding of what went on there.
In the Great Tower, there awaited another shock for me.
Dover Castle Great Tower
English Heritage have laid out displays, showing what it would/may have looked like in the days of Henry II. On level one, the guest bedroom, level two the Kings bedroom, throne room, and a small chapel attributed to Thomas Becket, who had been murdered by said agents of Henry II. Henry denied any involvement in the murder, and it is said this small chapel, still in use once a year, was Henry’s penance to St. Thomas Becket.

Dover Castle Thomas Becket Chapel
The shock for me was the quality of the furniture, the vibrant colours of the paint and cloth. It looked too modern.
As with all the guides situated throughout the castle grounds, eager to engage and full of knowledge, I was able to enquire as to the authenticity of the exhibits, surely they could not be true, as all the movies (mostly American) I had seen of those times, I thought that everything would be dark and grey. The guide had found his ideal visitor, for he was able to give me all his acquired knowledge, the fact that the woodworkers had the skills to produce such stunning work, that they had the ingredients to produce dyes of such striking colours for paints, murals and cloths.
Dover Castle Royal bedroom
Wow, I was shocked, as were the other visitors I spoke to as we toured the castle. Perhaps the British were and are a colourful lot after all, with OK some French influence.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Barge

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A quick bus ride from Kingston upon Thames to another town downstream on the River Thames, took me to Richmond upon Thames.
Looking down from the old Richmond Bridge to the boats moored on the banks of the Thames, I was taken aback at the sight of the Royal Barge, being prepared for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant to be held on June 3rd.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Barge at Richmond upon Thames.
Costing £1m, this 28.6m (94ft) barge called Gloriana, powered by 18 oarsmen, will head the river pageant from Wandsworth to Tower Bridge, leading it is estimated 1,000 boats carrying some 20,000 people. It has been said it will take one and a half hours for the pageant to pass any one point.
Covered, in parts, with gold leaf, the vessel sparkled in the sunlight.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Barge showing the Royal Crest.  
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Barge showing the stern crest. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Barge showing the gold leaf lion.

I wish boat I once owned, Mr Toots, had looked like The Royal Barge.

There Once was an Ugly Duckling

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Walking along the Thames Path from Kingston upon Thames towards Richmond upon Thames, a sight took me back to a story by Hans Christian Andersen, a story that was told to me as a small boy, and to a song sung by Danny Kaye.

There Once was an Ugly Ducking
The Ugly Duckling
This little ball of fluff had three other siblings with it, not really standing out from the surrounding landscape, and it made me think of the work, my career, I have found myself involved with for nearly twenty years, and the people I have seen over this period of time.
Back in the 1990’s, 80’s and 70’s, I was an expert in my work, working for computer manufacturers, I had to create computer systems to produce the results customers wanted. The customer would have a problem, perhaps to produce a payroll system, to capture sales figures at the point of sale on the shop floor, to record medical history in a hospital of patients, many many problems, and at that time, there was no packaged software, no apps available to provide them with the solution, so I would have to design, write and develop programs from scratch.
From knowing nothing about a subject, I had to learn what was being done manually by the customer, and transpose that to a computer system, I had to become an expert, to become one of those that had studied and worked in that area for years.
Yet I did not wish to become one of their group, or to replace them with myself.
In the late 1980’s, again I had to become another expert in an area I had no knowledge, to know how the industry of manufacturing windows and doors and the making of glass worked, so that I could support the computer systems that were installed to help the workforce in the factories.
I had a need, the need to gain knowledge, to become an expert, to know what made things work, what were they? That need for knowledge has continued in my life.
In the early 1990’s, I came across NLP, PhotoReading, Mind Maps and hypnosis, and the whole subjects fascinated me, I needed to know what was happening, what were these new ideas, how did they work, how could they make such major changes in people.
I had to understand, to become an expert, and I sought out the best to learn from, the originators.
One of my earliest computer clients, at the start of my working life, at a time I was learning new ideas, when I was honing my skills at becoming an expert, gaining the art of acquiring knowledge, in the 1970’s, there was a company that had been in existence for over 100 years, and they wanted to move from quill pen to a computer. I listened to what they wanted, and produced a design for a computer system from my understanding of what was required.
It was at the presentation of my solution to the partners of the company, that I was told :- “Thank you Phillip, you have shown us a good computer solution, but, we have been doing this work for over one hundred years, and we are not going to change now, go away and come back with what we want.”

I left the presentation deflated, I lost what confidence in myself I had in my abilities, I was not the expert I thought I was.
My manager saw this state I had gotten myself into, and helped me regain my confidence, to go out and acquire the knowledge to become an expert, to understand deeply down how things worked, why were things done in certain ways, what were the reasons certain results were wanted, because my manager saw in me a special person, an expert in the making.
I went back into the client, and with their permission, became one of them, to understand each process, the reasons why those processes were in place, and the results that came out of doing them.
Not only did I look at the client at work and learn, but I sought other companies that were in the same industry, and learnt from them too, adding to my knowledge.
So it has been with my work in NLPPhotoReadingMind Maps and hypnosis, I have continually sought-out knowledge, and with the permission and knowledge of the people I have worked with, incorporated this knowledge into my work, to become the expert, so to teach others.
I have watched others become experts, by taking their time to acquire knowledge and become an expert, to do the 10,000 hours that has been written about by Malcolm Gladwell and Matthew Syed.
Yet, it was at a recent training, that a participant spoke out with a smile on her face, “Now I understand. This is the second time I have done the course, and the first time it made no sense and did not work.”

Puzzled by this statement, I asked her to explain, as I had never seen this person before, this was her first course with me, and I knew that I was the only trainer teaching this subject in the country.
“Oh,” she said, “I went on a course with …………, he was a student of yours and decided to give the course himself, but I did not understand him.”

How many people become “experts” before they have learnt the subjects?
Like the fluffy “Ugly Duckling” in the picture above, we all have to learn, gain knowledge from those around us, like from our parents, our mentors, our teachers, to do our 10,000 hours, before we can blossom out to become the majestic swan.
Swans on the River Thames at Kingston
Majestic Swans from Ugly Ducklings

The Rotary Club of Kingston, University of Kingston Music Awards

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Following the article Proud Moments at the Music Awards, I have put together a very simple video record.

Perhaps not West End Theatre standard, or a potential The Voice TV show entry, it has to be said it was not a very nice day to be singing out-of-doors.

The winner this year was Adam Hope, with his entry, “The Dying Christian”.  Adam, a very talented conductor is a 3rd year composition student at the university, working freelance in various jazz and light music ensembles, whilst he directs the Twist Choir at Kingston University.
Second place went to Nomi Helfensteller, with her entry of “We Still Got Time”. Originally on an Erasmus exchange scheme from the Oldenburg University in Germany as a Masters student, Nomi is now a post-graduate student of Kingston University of music performance, having her own band and an enthusiastic member of local natural voice choirs.
Third place went to Matthew Bromley, with “Twilight Voices”. Matthew is a 3rd year composition student, with a keen interest in music and theatre. He has spent many years as a musical director and has worked on several multimedia projects at Kingston University.

Proud Moments at the Musical Awards

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Perhaps not the best choice of venues to hold a musical recital on a cold day in May 2012, but this was the moment to announce the Kingston University Musical Awards in the ancient Market Place of Kingston upon Thames.
Once again the awards were given by the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames, and as I was asked to photograph the event, I paid attention to the people standing in the Market Place, observing their presence, and it was so obvious who were the composers of the music being performed by Kingston University’s Chamber Choir, accompanied on the piano by Mr Michael Round.
From their faces, and those of their companions, the pride of what they had achieved was there to see, as they hung on every note and word being sung. Perhaps they had spent many hours and sleepless nights composing their entries into this annual event, but this day it had proven worth while, as their work was being performed in public.
Adam Hope, Kingston University Music Competition Awards, Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club 1st place 2012
Adam Hope, Kingston University Music Competition Awards

Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club 1st place 2012

Nomi Helfensteller, Kingston University Music Competition Awards, Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club 2nd place 2012
Nomi Helfensteller, Kingston University Music Competition Awards
Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club 2nd place 2012
Matthew Bromley, Kingston University Music Competition Awards, Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club 3rd place 2012

Matthew Bromley, Kingston University Music Competition Awards
Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club 3rd place 2012

The winner this year was Adam Hope, with his entry, “The Dying Christian”.  Adam, a very talented conductor is a 3rd year composition student at the university, working freelance in various jazz and light music ensembles, whilst he directs the Twist Choir at Kingston University.
Second place went to Nomi Helfensteller, with her entry of “We Still Got Time”. Originally on an Erasmus exchange scheme from the Oldenburg University in Germany as a Masters student, Nomi is now a post-graduate student of Kingston University of music performance, having her own band and an enthusiastic member of local natural voice choirs.
Third place went to Matthew Bromley, with “Twilight Voices”. Matthew is a 3rd year composition student, with a keen interest in music and theatre. He has spent many years as a musical director and has worked on several multimedia projects at Kingston University.
It was not only a proud moment for the winners of the University Music Awards, but also for the organiser Dr. David Osbon, Principal Lecturer and Head of Collegiate Music at Kingston University, who stood out with his flowing hair and his strong voice, and Kingston Rotary members there, especially Doreen Johnston and President Anne McCormack who presented the prizes.
By helping others, Rotary Club can inspire others to achieve and be proud of what they do, no matter at what level.
Perhaps writing this may inspire me to produce the video of the event.

Double Rainbow, Why?

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A double rainbow
In the UK, after having such warm and dry period of weather at the start of spring, and over the last couple of years a reduced level of rainfall leading to the South East of England being declared in a draught, with reservoirs at all time low levels, the last few days of April has been cold and wet, with some areas having record rainfall.
The sky turns black, blacker than I have seen for a longtime, and the rain comes down, and yet, typical of UK weather, the dark clouds soon pass, and we find ourselves in sunshine. 
We call this weather April Showers.
So here we are, the dark cloud passes over in the early evening, yet to the west, the setting sun is in a cloud free sky, the result was another rainbow, not just one but a double rainbow.
I have never seen or realised there could be a double rainbow, so typically, I needed to know what causes this natural show.
A rainbow is caused by the light from the sun passing through the raindrops, resulting in a multicoloured arc. The light as it enters the droplets is refracted, split into the seven colours of the spectrum of light, as the picture above shows, being red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, with blue on the inside and red on the outside.
The process as the sunlight passes through the water droplets is that the light is refracted as it enters the droplets, then it is reflected back from the opposite side of the inside of the droplet, and as the light passes out of the droplet it is refracted again.
This was first described by Sir Isaac Newton, 1642 to 1727.
A double rainbow is a secondary arc outside the primary arc, and the colours are reversed, so the blue is on the outside, and is caused by the light being reflected twice within the droplets.
Now I know.

The Weather Changes in the UK at Hampton Court

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From my home town of Kingston upon Thames, there is on the opposite bank of the River Thames the grounds of the Palace of Hampton Court, a largely open parkland area south of Bushy Park, the home of the Hampton Court Flower Show, and the historical Palace of Henry VIII.

On the north bank of the River Thames is an easy walk of about 3 miles (just under 5 km) following the river to Hampton Court called Badge Walk. Pleasure boats and ferries enjoying the leisurely pace of life, cruise passed on the river. Cyclists, joggers and walkers, out to exercise or just enjoy being out in the open air pass by, sometimes with a jolly “Hello” greeting. It is a pleasant walk on a sunny day for all.
For many weeks the weather in the UK has been like summer, even if it is only March/April, so much so that many parts of the UK are so short of water there has been a hosepipe ban introduced, rivers and reservoirs are running dry, the area has been declared officially in drought conditions.
And so I set out on a beautiful morning, to exercise myself on the walk, with the warmth of the sun putting an extra spring in my step. But as I neared the end of Badge Walk, coming to the entrance to the Royal Palace, the skies darkened, and I could see the ribbons of heavy rain falling in the near distance. Looking at the movement of the clouds and the direction of the wind, I realised and hoped the storm would pass to the north of me.
Ribbons of rain about to fall on Hampton Court seen from Barge Walk on the River Thames towards Hampton Court Bridge
It had taken about an hour and a half to reach Hampton Court, time enough to earn a sandwich and a cup of tea in one of the cafe’s the grounds, and then to take a leisurely stroll through some of the gardens of the Palace.
It is a little too early for most of the flowering plants to bloom, but there were beds and beds of daffodils, some already having flowered looking a little bedraggled, some just in their prime, carpets of yellow gently swaying in the sunshine.
Daffodils in the Royal Palace of Hampton Court gardens
Yes, the rain did not materialise, but the sky was darkening, this time the blackest black I could remember, a storm was brewing, and it was time to leave, the quicker the better, and the quickest was a bus ride back to Kingston.
It was a race against the storm, and having reached the shopping centre of Kingston I entered the Bentall Shopping Centre, the heavens opened, delivering hail stones and rain drops large enough to stop and elephant stampede, but I was dry.
This British weather. It is so changeable, and it seems to be getting more so, from desert heat to Arctic freezing, tropical rainstorms to parched landscapes.

HEMS Helicopter Emergency Medical Service

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A group of
Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club members, plus spouses, visited the Kent, Surrey and
Sussex HEMS service, based at the old RAF airfield, home of the BBC’s
Top Gear program, test track for the car manufacturer McLaren,

Kingston Rotary visiting the Kent, Surrey and Sussex HEMS

HEMS, (Helicopter Emergency Medical
), is operated every day of the year from 7am to 7pm in
daylight hours, with the hope in the near future to extend its’
service into night flying too, is an emergency response to medical
situations with a team of a pilot, a highly skilled doctor and a
critical care paramedic on board. We were told that this particular
HEMS team responded to 3 or 4 situations per day.

The service is a registered charitable
self funding organisation, covering the three counties of Kent,
Surrey and Sussex in conjunction with the NHS Ambulance Service which
merged the three counties into one service, and has two MD902
helicopters, one based in Marden (Kent) and the other at
Dunsfold (Surrey), and can reach any part of the SE England
operational area it was said in 20 minutes.

The HEMS MD902 Explorer helicopter for Kent, Surrey and Sussex based at Dunsfold, by Phillip Holt

Taking A&E (Accident and Emergency) directly to a patient
within minutes has been proven a lifesaver, with even open heart
surgery being performed onsite, then to get the patient directly to
the most appropriate hospital in a sort time, affects the quality of

Constantly looking for and raising
funds to cover the £5 million per year cost is a host of volunteers,
as the service receives no funds from the Government or National
Lottery. For a small sum, you can enter the Kent,
Surrey and Sussex HEMS own lottery by filling in a form obtainable
from their web site.

The dedication of the people at
Dunsfold was obvious, as the pilot, doctor and paramedic took time
out to show us around the helicopter, explain what they do and answer
out multitude of questions. In the summing-up session back in the
HEMS building, I glanced outside to where the helicopter was parked,
only to see the three of them washing the already gleaming machine,
but having fun in the process. These lifesavers are just human like
you and me, and need our support just as we may need theirs one day.