I am delighted to tell you a little about Enterprising Tesco Mum of the Year 2015 Kate Geeson

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You can read about Kate here
http://www.tescoliving.com/mum-of-the-year/winners/2015/enterprising-mum-of-the-year-kate-geeson

Kate runs pioneering work experience that helps people with learning difficulties gain self-confidence, qualifications and jobs. These are the very things that help us move forward positively in life but also can be so difficult to achieve if you face personal difficulties plus have to confront some unhelpful prejudices out there. These are the times you need a champion to believe in you as the special person you are.

When Kate was working in the special educational needs department of a secondary school, she started thinking about other ways to make a difference. Now she is on a mission to make work placements a life-changing opportunity to shine for disadvantaged people who need the right support and encouragement.

“We’re here to help them and to give them work experience. To give them a reason to get up in the mornings,” says Kate, 60, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Kate runs Phoenix Milton, a charity-based social enterprise on the outskirts of Cambridge that makes and sells handmade paving and garden accessories. Phoenix provides work experience and employability qualifications for young people and adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

Tesco Mum of the Year Awards judges noted Kate’s determination to give everyone the opportunity to achieve their potential.

Kate, who is married to Philip, 61, and Mum to Michael, 33, and Shelly, 32, spent 10 years working as a learning support assistant in a secondary school. She was struck by the lack of quality work placement opportunities for people with learning difficulties. In 2006 she helped to launch Phoenix, which took over a small factory producing concrete slabs and adapted it to provide supported learning within a real business.

Kate and her team provide a range of learning opportunities – from carpentry to cooking – in a safe environment, supporting the trainees closely as they progress. Over the years the charity has raised £300,000 and helped around 600 people to gain trade and life skills. Kate is passionate about providing the right environment to allow people to blossom.

“We’ve got one really, really special lad who is in a permanent exclusion department in school,” says Kate. “He doesn’t get on at school but here he’s perfect. He’s in his second year now and the school can’t believe it’s the same lad.”

The youngest trainee is 15 and the oldest is in his late 30s. Kate has used her experience in education and good business sense to produce astonishing results. She says: “One lad has gone into supported living now and he can cook now as a result of being here. At one time all he would do was stare at the car park.”

Trainees are sent to Phoenix by local schools and organisations such as the Learning Disability Partnership. They work and train in all areas of the business, including the concrete factory, carpentry workshops, kitchen garden and canteen kitchen.

“We’re seen as unique because the trainees are guided through everything and given life skills they might not otherwise receive.”

Kate is kept very busy nurturing trainees, managing staff, planning new courses, drumming up much-needed volunteers to help out, fundraising and balancing the books.

“To me, I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary,” she says. “I just love caring for people and helping them reach their potential.”

I have said it before and I will say it again it is always the truly inspirational who seem to believe they are nothing special.

This is why the Tesco Mum of the Year Awards are fantastic as the recognise mums who really are quite extraordinary whilst being self-effacing at the same time.

2015 will be the 10th Mum of the Year Awards and Tesco has awarded over 80 ordinary mums who have done extraordinary things for others.

http://www.tescoliving.com/mum-of-the-year/latest/2014/july/celebrating-10-years-of-the-mum-of-the-year-awards

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Diary of an imperfect mum

Here is this week’s Striking Mums post and better late than never.

Should I take a risk? How often do you ask yourself that question.

Striking Mums is a campaign to get mums to think of themselves a little bit more. We believe that mums really can rediscover or reinvent themselves. We also believe that a little back up and peer support from other mums can only help with that.

You can link up any post or if you don’t blog leave a comment about how you are proactively changing your life for the better.

This week I am reflecting on risk-taking and if you find the following questions helpful, please feel free to answer them either on your blog, in a comment or in your own head.

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I will post my answers tomorrow and here are the questions.

1. Would you describe yourself as a risk taker?

2. What, if anything, concerns you about taking a risk?

3. What is the worst thing that could happen if you take a risk?

4. Tell us a situation where taking a risk paid off for you

5. Tell us about a situation where taking a risk resulted in harm to you or yours

6. What risk are you tempted to take right now?

7. What would help you feel better about taking that risk?

8. What risk did you not take that you now wish you had?

9. Do you admire people who take risks?

10. Can you think of someone famous or otherwise who is a inspirational risk-taker? What can you learn from them?


I think it is important to give and find support for weight loss for mums.

I started a weight loss linky last week called Muffin Top Monday although be aware you can link up on any day of the week with your weight loss related blog posts.

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If you don’t blog, please leave a comment as to how you are doing.

Only one person linked up last week but after years of blogging, I know that if two people can support each other in challenging times that is perfectly valid and fine. Of course, if more bloggers would like to join in this week, that would be amazing too.

You can post about weight loss as you see fit and if my headings help do use them but don’t feel constrained by them.

1. How was my weight loss journey this week?

I wrote down some monthly targets in my diary.

I also took my measurements – scarily huge! However, they will provide another measure of this journey as I go along.

2. How much had I hoped to lose?

I was hoping to lose 2 pounds this week whilst recognising that even a pound per week is a great loss.

3. What have I enjoyed eating this week?

Avocados – healthy fats and I restrict myself to two per week.

Porridge made with almond milk.

Lots of fish and vegetables.

4. Have I eaten anything unhealthy this week?

Yes I had some meat yesterday which I found incredibly difficult to eat. I think my tastes have changed radically in the last 3 months.

I also had some cheesecake and biscuits which was silly as I never eat such things these days.

4. How are you feeling about losing weight?

I was feeling positive and motivated. I still am but I had a wobble yesterday when I saw women much smaller than me saying how fat they felt. It made my journey seem a very long one again. So I got emotional and turned to sweet things as above. So silly but I am back on track the next day so forgive myself.

Support for weight loss also involves us looking after ourselves and our emotions.

5. Do you have a top tip to share with us?

Take things one day at a time and celebrate every day of healthy eating.

Almond milk – I love how this tastes so creamy and yet is so healthy.

6. Have you lost any weight this week?

I have lost 3 pounds this week bringing my total loss to well over 2 stones. This is what that looks like.

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As I say, you can link up any weight-loss related post and I look forward to getting to know you and celebrating our success in due course.

I will visit all posts and encourage others to visit too via the blog hop and by promotion on social networks.

We can all give support for weight loss.

Wbat support for weight loss do you need today?


Do you feel life is passing you by as a mum?

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Are you feeling a little fed up?

Is you self-esteem a little low?

Do you feel it is too often more about them and less about you?

Do you feel a little frumpy?

Are you feeling isolated with the challenges you face?

Have you given up on your hopes and dreams?

Fancy rediscovering or reinventing yourself?

If ONE or more of these touch a nerve, we have news for you.

Welcome to Striking Mums!

Striking Mums is a simple initiative that can move mountains and help you change your life in tiny and huge ways.

You decide on what you want to change or to achieve and a supportive group of mums help you along the way.

It’s all about taking baby steps to a whole new you.

So how does Striking Mums work?

Every Sunday there will be a Striking Mums post on this blog. It aims to inspire and to perhaps suggest ideas you may not have thought about already. There is a linky so that you can post about how you are getting on. Other mums will visit your blog and lend their support.

We hold regular #strikingmums Twitter parties and welcome your input on what particular questions or issues you would like to discuss.

Meet-ups and retreats are on the agenda for the future.

So how does that sound to you?

How to feel better as a mum – it’s as simple as becoming a Striking Mum.

Striking – stand out as the individual you are

Striking – take some well-deserved you time

Striking – you are beautiful inside and out whether you feel that way or not.

In fact, I would love you to post on your social networks as often as you can about how you are doing on these 3 fronts and please use hashtag #strikingmums. The more we spread the word the more mums move forwards positively and proactively.

As for me this week, I can claim to be on of the #strikingmums as ..

1. I have looked through old photos and posted some on social networks to remind myself and others who I am.

2. I have stayed up late after the family have gone to bed to pursue some of my own interests.

3. I don’t like the way I look currently but I acknowledge that I am moving towards beauty as I take control of my weight.

You can link up any blog where you show you are taking steps large or tiny towards the present and future that you want.

Here are some tasks/questions that might help you compose a post but please don’t feel constrained by these. Striking Mums is possibly the most flexible linky on the planet.

1. Look at an old photograph of yourself. How does it make you feel? What hopes and dreams did that person have? What things did they enjoy doing? What might this person say to you now?

2. How will you carve out time for yourself and your interests in 2015?

3. What would you like to change about the way you look? What can you celebrate now about your own individual beauty?

4. What are your personal goals for 2015? Who or what can help you achieve them?

Let’s get striking and don’t forget to put the Striking Mums badge (you will find it in my right hand sidebar) created by my friend Jo on your blog.

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums

If you don’t blog in join us on Facebook and/or Twitter and feel free to leave a comment on this post. We will show you how to be a happy mum.


Christmas is a time to think of loved ones and to miss those who are no longer with us.

I lost my Mum in 2009 and my Dad in 2012. I seem to have moved to that stage of grief where you enjoy the memories so much that the pain is almost cancelled out.

Christmas at home. I miss it. I was the baby of the family by 16 years and for many of my childhood years my two brothers lived elsewhere as young adults.

I loved the magic of Christmas and coming down and finding all the presents. There was always a huge pile. Weirdly I remember very few of them – the doll’s house my Dad’s friends made and a doll that tumbled after hours of Dad trying to get it to work. I got to open my presents first as we always did it in age order. The gifts were piled on chairs rather than under the tree.

The tree was the same one every year with decorations going back to the start of Mum and Dad’s marriage in 1950. It was a green and silver affair that always went up on my birthday with me seeing it as the treat of year to decorate it. It was also my job to put up the Christmas cards. I took both of these tasks incredibly seriously. Things had to be just so – an example would be some system that meant a Nativity Scene was followed by a robin was followed by a snowman and so on. I am sure nobody else card but I did.

My uncle bought me this marvellous Nativity set in a lovely pale wood. I loved arranging the figures and that Jesus was not put in his manger but miraculously appeared by Christmas morning.

Church was a huge part of Christmas whether Midnight or morning mass. Mum dressed me up as if I was a doll and I once famously caught fire when I got too near the candles in my fur coat.

I got used to waiting for a knock of the door on Christmas Eve. Often there would be a family drama with someone turning up in a crisis that my Mum and Dad would sort out. You just hoped that two warring family members would not both turn up with their tales of woe at the same time.

My brothers would come for Christmas although my oldest did not always do so and this broke Mum’s heart. It is always strange how the one who absents themselves seems the most loved of all. My Uncle would arrive in his sheepskin coat with presents wrapped in gold, silver, red and green shiny paper. His were always the best wrapped and the most unusual as he lived in London and travelled overseas a lot too.

Drink would flow. My family always had a drinks cabinet with a whole host of stuff in it including gin, dark rum, brandy and Dimple. Dad was well respected in the business world so used to arrive with bottles from organisations throughout December. My parents were not really wine drinkers till later in life. Sherry was the first tipple of the day and as I got older I liked the tradition of trying it in a special glass whilst not really enjoying the taste.

Mum spent most of her time running in and out of the kitchen. As a cook by trade, she loved showing just what she could do at this special time of year. If I am honest I think we were guilty of leaving her to it. Several years later, she downed tools so that she too could enjoy Christmas and we started dining out on Christmas Day. I have always admired her for that.

What do I actually remember of the lunch? I always had Heinz tomato soup as a starter by request. I can’t remember much of the main course apart from sprouts which I loved then and now. I was never a fan of real carrots, bread sauce or Christmas pudding all of which you had to eat at Christmas.

In the afternoon, there would be lots of playing with cards and draughts, sometimes chess. I remember getting Operation and that causing a lot of hilarity.

I think it is interesting to reflect on what I miss about Christmas at home.

1. The things that were the same every year from the brown soup bowls to the oval plates and the pink and white tureens filled with vegetables.

2. My plastic stocking with pictures of Christmas trees on it. This came out every year and there was always a coin at the bottom of it. I went mad when Mum did not put it up the year I started university.

3. I miss how Mum would go wild spray painting Honesty gold and silver as decorations.

4. I really miss that feeling of a community where generations had lived for years so people knew not only each other but also family histories. There was a sense that people knew where they fit. I think we lose that when we leave our home towns. I often question whether I might have been happier staying put. For us the community revolved around the Irish Nash Club, the Parochial Hall, church and the school.

5. I liked how I would be teased in little ways like when my brothers and uncle convinced me that the lemonade they gave me was actually a gin and tonic.

6. I miss the table and its white tablecloth with patterns in embroidered by my Mum.

7. I miss standing together in church as a family and how my Mum loved the carol “In the Bleak Mid Winter” and how we both loved “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”

8. I miss how daft Mum and Dad could be so we had so much laughter and fun interspersed with the odd drama to keep things interesting.

9. I miss how Mum always banned us watching the Queen’s speech.

10. I miss the days around Christmas. Boxing Day often found us at the coast with biscuit tins full of sausage rolls and Mum bringing a bottle of brandy out of her handbag to add to our coffees to warm us up. I miss going to see Auntie Margaret, Uncle Cyril and Sean and how Mum used to secretly enjoy how Margaret never could do the kitchen stuff anywhere near as good as Mum.

I find it enlightening that I do not remember the presents really but rather the time put into making them. I miss the people, the love and the laughter. How quickly it is gone. How naïve we are about that which is why it is so important to make great memories and ongoing traditions. And let’s look after Mums at Christmas who usually drive themselves into the ground to make it just as perfect they can.

I was such a lucky girl. And I realise as I write this that one day one of my children will also be remembering our Christmases and how the best things of all were the things we did every year or the things that cost nothing.

I will round this off with a little conversation between me and Him Indoors on Christmas Day.

Me “You are daft you are”

Him “So are you – that is why it works!”