Wedding For those of you who don’t know, our ‘big news’ this year is that we are getting married in 2019. The invitation above says it all and apart from sorting our outfits, everything is on track for our Quaker wedding next May. There is just the small matter of praying that Maggie’s heart condition doesn’t get any worse and that we both make it to the solemnization of our longstanding, deep, committed, and loving relationship - witnessed by and celebrated with our families and friends. We took the decision to do this whilst we were on retreat from the world on the island of Lindisfarne this summer and we have not looked back since! So, some good news in a year which has sadly seen Maggie’s health shift from ‘hereditary heart condition’ to a recent experience of actual ‘heart failure’ necessitating a spell last month in the cardiology ward of Milton Keynes hospital - with adjustments to her life style and medication.
Treading Notwithstanding this ‘minor’ set back, and despite still deeply missing our dear friend Felicity (for whom we have planted a mulberry tree in our garden – see overleaf) , on the whole we have had a good year. We try to tread lightly over the world and have enjoyed ‘nefarious’ activities such as the London Appreciation Society trip to Highgate Cemetery, seeing the legendary Joan Baez in Paris, watching tennis on Centre Court at Wimbledon and being present at The Cenotaph for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. We both feel very fortunate to have each other, a vibrant Quaker meeting which sustains us, and families and friends who love us and (seem to) want to spend time with us! As far as families go, my sister has made a good recovery following successful surgery for cervical cancer in January. At the time of writing last year she had been told that all was OK but following further tests, cancer was detected, and she was taken in for the offending body parts to be removed. The surgeon, despite cutting inadvertently into a main artery (we won’t go there!) did not manage to extract her ‘travel bargain hunting gene’ and so as well as celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary on a trip to Namibia and South Africa, Julie and Jim have also had a lovely warm winter break in Portugal, with Madeira to come next month. Courtesy of Julie’s friends with their own boat, my sister and I were also able to scatter my Dad’s ashes at sea off Durdle Door – a small but fitting gesture in recognition of Ordinary Seaman Norman Limb! My niece Jo has been working at Cancer Research UK for over a year now and loves her job; Jonty, my nephew acquired his own house in Bristol this year and continues to work for the Welsh charity Tenovus Cancer Care. Jo, with her partner Rob, Jonty and I went skiing in Kitzbuhel in March which was fantastic; for 2019, the four of us are planning to climb the mountain Suilven in the North West Highlands of Scotland – something I have long had an ambition to do. That I am still skiing at nearly 66 (off again next week for my pre-Christmas Athenaeum Austrian adrenaline rush), and that my niece and nephew still want to spend time with me is a source of immense delight and profound gratitude. I am also thankful that I am healthy and medication free! Although I began the year by contracting measles (which clearly, I didn’t have as a child!) I am lucky not to have suffered any major illnesses throughout the year; I had a successful cataract operation in August and although my sight in my right eye will never be that good (due to some earlier damage and the detached retina) I can now see much better. I continue to swim 2-3 times a week, cycle to Quakers on Sundays, and mostly walk the daily recommended 10,000 steps. This year I’ve also completed a number of charity fundraising walks (including one for Target Ovarian Cancer in memory of my dear friend and walking buddy Sara) as well as walking the Lea Valley and - together with my friend Catherine (see below) - part of the Capital Ring around London. We will complete it in the first few months of next year.
I am still busy doing a variety of interesting (well at least to me!) activities – and I get paid for some of them too. I have now spent a year as the independent business Chair of the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium, the organization behind the UK’s Innovation Corridor www.innovationcorridor.uk and I’m hugely enjoying it, and I continue to be Chair of the environmental regulator ENTRUST. On the voluntary front, I was elected to serve a second 3-year term as Chair of the Scout Association and I remain Chair of IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, www.ifmiltonkeynes.org It held its fifth successful edition this summer which I was thrilled to be able to share with my old friend Marilyn (see above). I was also made Vice Chair of City & Guilds of London Institute this year and am Deputy Chairman of the Athenaeum.
Shedding In the end, there are only three things that matter – how much you have loved, how gently you have lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you This year has also seen the natural end come to some of my voluntary and charitable work - thereby giving me more time… supposedly. I ended my 8-year term as Chair of Destination MK in November and will complete a similar stint as Chair of the SE Midlands Partnership in February next year. This year we also celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the charity I founded, the Helena Kennedy Foundation, and so I stood down as Chair. We published a major impact report and if you want to be uplifted by stories of human achievement in the face of adversity, go to the charity’s website www.hkf.org.uk & download ‘Learning Worked’. You can also read about the charity on my website www.annlimb.co.uk or by clicking on the link https://www.tes.com/news/why-helena-kennedy-foundation-still-matters
With much love to you at Christmas and for 2019 – please stay in touch.
Ann & Maggie