what i do and why
If you have read the 'about me' page and clicked to read more (if you haven't then please do!) then you will know that I have suffered from an eating disorder. I was diagnosed with 'Atypical Anorexia Nervosa' and was an outpatient of the WSEDS (West Sussex Eating Disorder Service) between March 2017 and February 2018.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate as I am able to say that I am fully recovered and following my discharge from the program in 2018 I have been campaigning to raise awareness about this much misunderstood, life threatening illness that is sadly increasingly common.
I began back in 2018 by touring the UK, presenting a lecture about eating disorders. What they are, how to spot them and how to help; to students of 11 equine colleges to tie in with International Eating Disorders Week 2018. I set up a 'Go Fund Me' page to help with the fuel costs of driving 2249 miles and managed to raise enough that I gave a donation of £333.85 to Beat (the UK's largest eating disorder charity).
I couldn't have asked for a better response, everyone was so supportive and receptive and I received great feedback.
Horse and Hound ran a full page article on the tour and I was interviewed on Meridian FM.
Below you will find a video of the 2018 lecture I presented and the media coverage.
Scroll down to read what I did next!
The success of the 2018 tour inspired me to do it again the following year but this time I wanted to reach even more people so I presented to 10 of the UK equestrian colleges, 3 public lectures, took part in Hartbury College's 'WellFest' event and was thrilled to be invited by the British Horse Society to speak at all 5 of their National Conventions.
I was encouraged to see that peoples general awareness around eating disorders had grown from what I had experienced the previous year but was saddened to discover that even within the small number of people I spoke to that year that peoples direct experience (either a friend, relative or themselves) had grown 5 fold. I am so grateful to Horse and Hound for covering the tour in an article written in the January of 2019 but I wanted to do more...
In 2020 I wanted to reach people on an even larger scale and to start something that could be an ongoing project rather than just a one off series of lectures/ presentations. So I launched my 'Hard to Swallow' Campaign.
The idea was to raise enough money to fund the writing of a training course, written by Beat's clinicians about eating disorders within the equestrian industry. This could then be offered to organisations such as pony/ riding clubs, affiliated bodies etc, potentially as a CPD accredited course, the fund raiser generated £891- enough to begin the process but there is still work to do.
You can watch the video I created to launch the last fundraiser below...
Unfortunately the Covid 19 pandemic meant that Beat's resources were put under serious strain and as such the writing of the program had to be put on hold. During 2020 and 2021 the pandemic drew many people and organisations to realise the importance of mental heath and as a result there were other courses that were developed and approved as CPD accredited. I made the decision to not persue the writing of the eating disorder specific course as I felt that there was now already provision for such training in the wider equestrian community and instead donate the funds raised for the 'Hard to Swallow' campaign to Beat in order to support their essential work. Please take time to read the letter as it gives an insight into what Beat does and how vital they are.
If you are interested in hosting me to present a talk to an organisation of group you are involved with then do get in touch as I would be happy to help. I do not charge for my time, I just ask for my expenses to be covered and a donation to Beat would be much appreciated.
Keep an eye on my social media for updates on my 'Hard to Swallow' campaign and check out Beat's website for more information on eating disorders and support for sufferers or those supporting a sufferer.