My youngest child told me that I needed an origin story. Why gingko they asked? And do gingko trees even have blossoms? The gingko I can explain. I lived in an area of north London for the longest time I have lived anywhere. A quarter of a century, half my life and the main part of my adult years. At the bottom of my road is a churchyard long disused as a churchyard, but much loved by the community. Central to the churchyard is a tower of Norman heritage. Each Autumn, its paths and garden of remembrance are carpeted in the delicate yellow fan-shaped leaves of the gingko trees that stand either side. They reminded me of Japan where I lived for a time. When I learned they are a living fossil, unchanged for more than 200 million years, unique in that they have no known living relative, I was inspired by their resilience. Do they have blossom? I swear I saw some this spring, but not beautiful sprays and arrays of colour that other trees share. And as much as I love the beauty and resilience of the gingko tree, I love blossom. Their heralding of spring, a faith that there will be growth, joy even after the darkest, coldest of winters. Resilience, faith in the future: gingko blossoms.
I have worked in the public and charity sectors for over twenty years with roles in communication, training and volunteer and service management. Like many people, my paid work combined with unpaid work – caring for children and for an older family member. Through my own experience and those of colleagues and friends, I became increasingly aware of the stress of juggling these competing priorities and how undervalued care is. This growing awareness intersected with an innovative project that promoted opportunities to talk about planning for end of life and challenged the taboo of talking about death, dying and grief.
This led me to train as a Funeral Celebrant which further enhanced my awareness of how much need there is for safe spaces to talk openly and safely about our experience and feelings around death, dying and grief.
I combine my role as Director of Creating Conversations CIC with a role as Head of Services for a local charity that works with and for older people. I also provide funeral and memorial celebrancy and celebration life writing.