Marian @ Krysan


Planting Golden Seeds in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, and Durham



Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous
delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.  

E. E. Cummings




(Small, but beautifully formed)


Angela Slater (TTC) & Marian Moore (OL4C)


  • International Day for Older Persons 2014 
  • North Road Methodist Church, Durham City
  • 1 October 2014 from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm


Dear Friends

Durham Happiness Challenge.

On Wednesday 1 October 2014, a group of thirty-three men and women (most retirees, but not all) answered the happiness call and at 10.00 am descended on North Road Methodist Church in Durham City. Some came on foot, others by car, by rail or by public transport. 

They came from far-flung places such as Easington Lane, Gateshead, Gilesgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bishop Auckland, Houghton-le-Spring, Framwellgate Moor, Tudhoe Grange, Chester-le-Street, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Durham City, itself - even from London and Doncaster.

They came to lend their support and enter into one of the most joyous, heart-warming, and stress-free events I for one have ever attended. Well done, all. Lest we forget, here's the programme again - small, but beautifully formed:


International Day for Older Persons, 2014 

10.00    Signing in/Morning coffee (& biscuits)

10.30    Welcome by Angela Slater (Time to Change - TTC)

10.45    A Grandmother's Tale - Marian Moore (Older Leaders for Change - OL4C)

11.15    One-hour Break-out Sessions - choose from:

  • Mindfulness - Rev. Colin Jay, or
  • Creative Writing - Sheila North, or 
  • Memories R Us - Marian Moore

12.15    Buffet Lunch/Activities/Stalls

 1.00     The Happiness Challenge -

  • A Journey of Hope - Sheila North
  • A Short Video re The Black Dog of Depression
  • Time to Talk (in groups)

 2.00     Tea and Cake, Evaluation forms

 2.30      Feedback

  • Raffle
  • Prizes
  • Thanks! 

 3.00     Close

A dream became a reality.

Although we had worked together on other occasions, this was the first time Angela and I had pooled resources to organise an event specifically aimed at International Older Person's Day. Knowing that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step, we carefully lit the flame. The Durham Happiness Challenge was born.

Over coffee (no cake!), we two ex-teachers from County Durham gently explored sources of funding (a given), possible venues, publicity and marketing, speakers and workshop facilitators, activities, stalls and - as shown above - eventually agreed on 'the programme'. This was curriculum development with style - our style.  This was also co-production with style - our style.

Next, our friends in the service user/carer mental health community kindly and seamlessly spread news of the event through their electronic networks and through word-of-mouth. Satisfied with how things were going, in mid-September we both left everything (including the country) and went on our respective summer holidays. Now, that's confidence ...

A day of smiles.  

From start to finish, this was a day of smiles. Everything and everybody as sweet as a nut.  Nothing a bother.  We even started on time and finished on time - with morning coffee, a delicious buffet lunch, and afternoon tea all happening exactly as planned.  Thanks for this go to Time to Change (funding), Sainsbury's (food), Angela Slater and a small team of TTC champions (organisation). Everything impeccable. Everything commendable. Everything appreciated. 

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

After morning coffee and biscuits, and at exactly 10.30 am, Angela gathered everyone together and outlined the aims of the event, one being to provide us with an opportunity to listen to other people's experiences of leading and influencing change in their own lives, in their families lives and in the lives of their communities. The event was also about raising awareness of issues around older people's mental health.

Older people's mental health.  

Angela set the ball rolling by providing important facts and figures about Older People's Mental Health, describing depression and anxiety as being the most common mental health problems in later life. We learned of the calls for parity of funding for mental health which currently receives 13% of NHS spend in England but accounts for 23% of demand. It is estimated that £13 billion is overspent every year on dealing with the physical health consequences of this unmet need.

Here are some common experiences and trends taken from the literature:

  • 1 in 4 people aged over 65 live with depression and 40 per cent of people aged 85 or over live with debilitating depression that affects their ability to engage in daily activities.
  • For every 100 people with depression, only 50 seek treatment and only 25 are diagnosed.
  • As few as 6 per cent of older people with depression are referred to mental health services, compared to 50 per cent of those under 65.  Less than 2 per cent are referred for primary care psychological therapy.
  • There is no one single cause for depression in later life; it results from many factors including family/life history, bereavement and grief, physical ill health, and/or, coming to terms with a particular phase in later life.
  • Excessive use of alcohol is a risk factor for depression but alcohol abuse amongst older people is more likely to be overlooked and less likely to be taken seriously.
  • 20 per cent of people aged 65 and over develop psychotic symptoms by the time they are 85, which are not a precursor to dementia but are often mistaken for dementia.
  • Depression in later life is strongly linked to physical ill health and disability, yet as few as 10-12 per cent of older people living two or more long-term conditions are treated for depression.

The above makes for grim reading. But, as Angela stressed, getting the right help and support and talking openly about mental health can help older people understand their own experiences The importance of peer support and self-support cannot be over-emphasised.

Peer support & self support.

Peer support helps to reduce the stigma and isolation that many older people with mental health problems face.  This was the cue to introduce a local organisation called SILVER TALK.  Here's what their leaflet (and their representative) had to say:

"Hello, we're SILVER TALK.  We are calling for volunteers to help us keep in touch with, and a lend a listening ear to older people in County Durham.  

"You can give as little or as much time as you like and training will be provided.  This is a great opportunity to help older people re-connect with their community and make new friends.  

"For more information call John or Natalie on 0800 093 0092. We'd love to hear from you."

Another organisation which made itself known was DASS (DURHAM Alcohol Self Support). According to the leaflet, 'DASS is inspired by like-minded people to help support people like themselves in their Long Term Path to Recovery'.

"The object of DASS is to promote Alcohol Self Support in County Durham for people in similar situations to ourselves.  DASS is a non-spiritual peer support group for like-minded individuals of all ages with the sole objective of supporting each other in issues related to alcohol misuse.  

"DASS also offer support to those making genuine efforts to overcome their addiction but who may have had a temporary relapse without giving them any feeling of guilt of failure.  By adopting this attitude it is hoped to help them not to dwell on their situation. 

"DASS offers an informal, confidential, flexible approach to the control and use of alcohol which is a less rigid alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.

For more information about DASS (now in Bishop Auckland, Durham City, Newton Aycliffe, Chester-le-Street), please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The password is, 'I love you'.

Then it was my turn. I described my involvement as a Time to Change champion of long-standing and, more recently, as an Older Leader for Change in mental health. A particular issue is agreeing local priorities for change including tackling stigma and stereotypes about age, older people and mental health.

But, this was intended as a joyous occasion.  The sun was shining and there was a lightness in the air. My talk had been carefully crafted to make people think - in a positive way - about the last taboo in society: schizophrenia. Not easy - gossamer wings. To prepare the way, I read a favourite poem about ageing called 'I'm Painting Now the Picture'.  This is poetry to which we can all surely relate.  

Next, I spoke about the newly 'recovery-focussed' mental health services in which I am involved - up to the hilt - as the Northumberland,Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust's service user governor for older people's services. If you click here you will have access to a digital copy of their annual magazine and video, both of which are on the theme of recovery from mental distress.  It is within the magazine's pages that you will find a beautifully-produced printed version of my story of hope and recovery: 'A Grandmother's Tale'. Today,

  • my audience did me proud ...  
  • the password is, 'I love you' ... 

Celebrating the wisdom of the aged. 

As anticipated, the break-out session on Mindfulness was the most popular of the three available choices - and this by far. Space here is limited and doesn't permit a discussion on Mindfulness or Creative Writing or Memories R Us. I must simply draw your attention to an example of word poetry which, my friend and yours, the Rev. Colin Jay brought to my notice at the close of the day. This too celebrates the wisdom of the aged and is worth sharing abroad.

The poem is entitled, 

If I had my life to live over ... 

"I'd like to make more mistakes next time.

"I'd relax, I would limber up.  I would be sillier than I had been on this trip.  I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances.  I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.  I would eat more ice cream and less beans.  I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

"You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.  Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them.  In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.  Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.  I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.  If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

"If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.  I would go to more dances.  I would ride more merry-go-rounds.  I would pick more daisies." - Nadine Stair. 85 years old. Louisville. Kentucky.

Finally, download the Happiness Challenge Workbook

PDF download Happiness Challenge workbook

It was with the above BBC workbook that I began my own personal happiness challenge years ago. I also read good books, thought long and hard, and made a conscious choice to be:

  • mindful - do less and notice more
  • grateful - remember the good things
  • kind - do things for others

In other words, I decided to be the best I could be.  But, no two journeys through this life follow the same course. With this proviso, I wish you all well and hope that the Durham Happiness Challenge is something that can be tried out (your style) in your community. Plant a golden seed.  

For me, the whole concept and the whole day was summed up in these three words. 

  • Beautiful
  • Profound
  • Delightful

Must press on.  Tomorrow, is another day and yet another challenge looms large on the horizon.  Bye for now.  May all be fed. May all be healed. May all be loved.  

Oh! and thank you for joining Angela and I.  We enjoyed your company.  Much appreciated.  Collaboration at its best.  



  • Marian Moore
  • Angela Slater



"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

Dalai Lama






3,166 hits @ 2017-05-20



©2008 Krysan. All rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy Creative Business Support & Website: