d Cha and Mary editedThis month’s speaker is Mary Nettle an eRotarian and our senior vice president. Despite coming to Rotary comparatively recently Mary has got very involved with our work.  In particular using her unique skills she has organised a number of Mental Health initiatives including the recent drop in session in Worcester.


John: Mary welcome to our Speaker Slot and could we start by asking you to tell us a little about yourself?


Mary: I was born 61 years ago in a small village nestled at the foot of Bredon Hill on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border.I went to a convent boarding school from the age of 10. I was interested in playing shops and offices as a child and maybe as a result went to Bristol Polytechnic and acquired an HND in Business Studies and a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Marketing. I was married but my husband became a chronic alcoholic and died at the age of 46. Maybe luckily we did not have any children. I had a breakdown in 1978 and have been labelled with Manic Depression now called Bi Polar disorder which sounds better but that is all.


I eventually became self-employed as a mental health user consultant and have spent over 20 years working mainly with PPI (Patient and Public Involvement) in mental health research and services. In February 2014 I had a serious car crash and broke my neck. I was very lucky to survive and recover, now 8 months later I feel very reflective and realise I was doing too much rushing around and need to do things locally of which there are a lot of opportunities to ’volunteer’ my services. I am working with the University in my home town of Worcester which is ideal and many other things as I realise how valued I feel by other people, quite humbling but lovely, keep giving me positive strokes.


John: Having read your C.V. you are a very highly qualified lady and have seen both sides of Mental Health, as a patient and  as someone who is actively involved in ensuring help is available in your roles with organisations. How much of an advantage has this been for you?


Mary: To be an expert by experience is essential to do the work I do. I need support from my peers in order to do this work. I am self-employed and it can be a hand to mouth existence especially when you are expected to volunteer your expertise. Asking to be valued by being paid for your expertise is what I constantly have to do and it is getting harder all the time.


John: I know several years ago you made a video. How relevant is that in today’s World? Perhaps it would be good if all Members looked at the video before answering that question.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Im9Ov5Vwoc] There is further information at http://www.healthtalk.org

Unfortunately I had to be anonymous as is the convention with research projects, I hope you can find me because it is interesting they use my first name and put me in the old timers category!


I have been chair of ENUSP (European Network of ex Users and Survivors of Psychiatry)a European network of users and survivors and therefore involved with the World network of the same name. This was all made possible by the invention of the internet the expense of face to face contact was greatly reduced though the opportunity to meet face to face is also vital.


John: Apart from your obvious desire to make a difference in people’s lives, what prompted you to join Rotary?


Mary: Because I was asked via face to face contact. I had heard of Rotary but though it was a male club similar to Probus. I saw Worcester Virgonia Rotary Club collecting for the poor and needy and had a debate about the use of that language. They invited me to a meeting where Tim Mason was a speaker and the rest is history.


John: You have had a very interesting and diverse life so far. If you were arranging a dinner party, who would you most like to have as your principle guest and why?


Mary: It would be good to have the ghost of Nelson Mandela as a mediator between those expressing strong opinions but for a real person who would inspire guests it would have to be Gabor Gombus who is a Hungarian user/survivor, a friend of mine and recognised as a human rights defender. He is able to articulate his arguments far better than I and his life history is remarkable.


John: Finally, how do you feel Rotary and particularly our eClub can help promote the very beneficial work you do?


Mary: Moral support is very valuable and members of the E.Club can be very supportive. It is important to look over the parapet and recognise that human frailty is all too real and reach out if you feel able to. You do not have to share your personal stories but it does help to make the Eclub more of a real place. Speaking up and speaking out is what it is all about and we should help each other to do that, it has certainly helped me.


John: Mary, many thanks for sharing your story with us and we can all benefit from your positive attitude.

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