Remembering Doreen Simmons: A reflection on the memorial service

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I thought that I would take some time to reflect on the wonderful memorial service for Doreen, here at St Andrews Church in Tokyo. The first thing that struck me was what an important role the Church plays in providing a ‘home’ for ex-pats living abroad.  In a country which is so different culturally, the Church offers Christians from all over the world an opportunity to come to together, share their faith and have a space in which to share their experiences, perspectives and understanding of what, at first, must be a very confusing and different environment.

The second thing which I found quite startling is that there are two Anglican churches on the same site. St Albans is a small wooden church and next door, St Andrews is a more modern and larger building. St Albans is the ‘English speaking’ church and St Andrews conducts its services in Japanese. Both attract sizeable congregations. Doreen’s service took place in the larger of the two churches, St Andrews, which was completely full on the occasion of the memorial service.

We often think about the way people work within large organisations as ‘silo working’. This term captures the idea that people work in departments within big companies that operate in isolation from others. People do this too in their personal lives. They all have people whom they meet through their hobbies, interests and relationships which seldom overlap, and it is not until one of the big transition points or ‘rites of passage’ that they come together. This was the case with Doreen.  There was much written in the media about her amazing life but the journalists all captured one or two aspects of Doreen’s life and particularly the Sumo wrestling. It was not until we all came together that we saw the whole person. One of the things within the service which illustrated this was the diversity of the individuals providing the eulogies. I represented her family however eulogies were also given by Murray Johnson who is an NHK commentator for Sumo wrestling and Dewanoumi Akikazu, the Nohon Sumo Kyokai Director, (done in Japanese). I also met people from:

  • The Foreign Press Centre
  • The Welsh Society
  • The Head of the Japanese wing of the Welsh Government
  • The DIET Library
  • Doreen’s Folk music club
  • The College Women’s Society
  • The British and Japanese Society
  • The British Embassy Choir
  • People from Doreen’s neighbour hood

One of the aspects of the service which was different (and I had not been expecting) was that after the Christian service, all members of the congregation were invited to place a white carnation in a tray in front of Doreen’s ashes and to say a personal prayer of thanks giving. This is a very Japanese tradition, I was told,  and one I think linked to Shintoism. I went first and then stood to the side to greet and thank each congregation member individually. This provided me with an opportunity to meet many of her friends and people who had been touched by her life in many ways.

The service was one of celebration for a remarkable woman’s life. I was privileged to be there and grateful to know that Doreen had such an extensive network of friends who loved her and held her in such high esteem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembeing Doreen Simmons: The memorial service

img_0921Today is the occasion of  Doreen’s memorial service at St Andrews Anglican Church in Tokyo. I will be attending and speaking on behalf of Doreen’s UK family. The following is the Eulogy which I plan to read :

Doreen was my cousin and my God mother, I greeted her as ‘Auntie Dicky’ (a childhood name).  I am here to represent her family in the UK: My parents, sister Judith, and own children as well as a wider network of Doreen’s cousins.  Doreen had no brothers and sisters and no children of her own. My mother and Doreen (First cousins) grew up in next door streets and referred to each other as sisters. Looking through the emails between my mother and Doreen has been very touching as they exchanged news about each other’s lives: the salutations always ‘dear big sister’ or dear ‘little sister’. My mother now has dementia but in a moment of clarity she asked me to ‘tell them all that I loved her very much’!

When I was baptised, Doreen gave my mother a pearl which was to be saved for the day on which I was confirmed into the Anglican Church, a gift she repeated for some of her other God daughters. As I grew older I would regularly go to my mother’s jewellery box and look ay the pearl with wonder. I was anxious to explore this thing which must have been so marvellous as to warrant such a precious gift. In eastern cultures the pearl symbolises the path of the soul to a state of perfection and when given in love symbolise purity, fertility and the cycle of life.  I wore my pearl on my confirmation and wedding day and my own daughter wore it on her wedding day too. Thus, Doreen has inspired us and others to learn about their faith and life and in this and in many other things, Doreen has been a central aspect of our lives. I am wearing my pearl today to honour her memory.

Doreen is a legend in our family. She has shown us the way and has helped us all to embrace life, learning and adventure. She was the first of our family to go to university, and many of us have followed this path becoming scientists, academics, business managers, mechanical, civil and computer engineers, marketing executives, and charity workers. We have travelled the world with the stories of Doreen’s exploits ringing in our years down the decades.

In my own life, Doreen has inspired a love of:

  • Folk music (the last time she came to the UK we enjoyed a wonderful evening at my folk club in Nottingham)
  • Singing (She was pleased when I joined my school choir and I have sung in choirs, as has my sister, and bands all my life)
  • Knitting (she loved complex knitting patterns and knitted jumpers for myself and my sister based on the designs which she had seen in Iceland during one of her adventures)
  • Jig saws (I remember helping her with a huge jigsaw as a teenager and marvelling that grown-ups would do such a thing. I have several jigsaw maps- bought by Doreen to enjoy and educate)
  • Cookery (my first cookery book, bought by Doreen, was a children’s book about the history of food with some very strange recipes!)
  • Travel (when her own mother died, we had to fetch her off a boat in the South Atlantic where she had gone to the Falkland Islands to watch penguins!). My own children have continued in her footsteps and two of them, Jake and Rosy have both travelled, visiting Doreen in Tokyo.

Doreen also taught us to support and advocate for those less fortunate than ourselves. I remember with awe the stories and photographs of her charity work in Mongolia where she went at first with colleagues from this church to help build shelters for the poor. My sister Judith, and I have dedicated our lives to helping other people because of her example: Judith in her role as a charity worker supporting families in times of trouble and I as a supporter of young people’s dreams through career guidance.

Without a doubt, Doreen has been a formidable role model. It can be daunting following in the footsteps of such a legendary character and I only hope that as I go through life I can become even half the woman that Doreen was.

I join with my mother and the rest of the family in sharing these memories of Doreen and joining with my mum in telling you all ‘that we loved her very much!’

Nicki Moore

Tokyo

June 2nd, 2018

 

 

Remembering Doreen Simmons: A remarkable journey

According to the flight information I am now hoovering 11,887 m above Blagoveschensk in Siberia. I have 2 hours to go before landing in Tokyo and I have been travelling for around 14 hours. The map of my geographical journey is fascinating but I suspect not half as fascinating as the personal journey that I am about to make. Many of my friends and colleagues have wished me a good holiday and whilst of course this is a break from work it is far more than a holiday. I am travelling to Tokyo to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman. Doreen Simmons was my cousin and God Mother. I am going to Tokyo to attend Doreen’s memorial service on June 2nd and to represent Doreen’s family there. It has struck me that travelling to the other side of the world is quite an extreme reaction to the death of a woman whom I have not seen for around eight years. I will be in Tokyo for 10 days and during this time I intend to write about my experiences and to chart the life of Doreen whose life has inspired me and thousands of others around the world.

In terms of familial relationships it is probably worth noting that Doreen was my mothers cousin and she had neither siblings or children of her own. My mum is Doreen’s next of kin but as she has advanced dementia I am going to represent her and the rest of the family at the ceremony. I think it is also worth noting that whilst in Japan Doreen created a life for herself which was rich with friends and her church ‘family’ and that these people have reached out to me through social media. I am so looking forward to meeting them all and to learning about Doreen’s life in Tokyo.

I am a very seasoned traveller and have had many adventures whilst working in countries in the Middle East and the Balkan-s. I have never been to the Far East and am looking forward to experiencing a new culture, food and philosophy. I also have to admit to being a little nervous. I really hope that I can meet the expectations of my new Japanese friends and of course I do not want to let down Doreen who has been such an important role model to me over the years.

First Annual Careers Education and Learning Conference. July 12th and 13th 2018. Hold the date!

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First annual National Career Education and Learning Conference: July 12th and 13th at the University of Derby.

The CDI in partnership with the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) is pleased to announce the dates of the first annual Career Education and Learning conference.

This event will take place at the Enterprise Centre at the University of Derby. Key features of the conference are:

  • Keynote speakers focussing on the Gatsby Benchmarks
  • Workshops
  • An exhibition
  • A poster session for students
  • A conference dinner

The event follows on from David Andrew’s highly successful ‘York Conference’ and is aimed at career development practitioners based in schools and colleges including

  • Senior and middle career leaders,
  • Career teachers,
  • Governors,
  • Employers,
  • Widening participation practitioners, and
  • Career guidance practitioners
  • Enterprise coordinators
  • Local Authority, EBP and LEP representatives

The event coincides with the recent launch of the Governments Careers Strategy and Statutory Guidance for career guidance.  The government have set out their definition of career guidance as meaning the full range of interventions that support young people to make choices and develop their careers. This conference will explore all aspects of what has been previously referred to as careers education, information, advice and guidance.

The conference will have the Gatsby Benchmarks as its main focus and by attending the event, delegates will

  • Develop their knowledge and understanding of the Gatsby Benchmarks;
  • Understand the link between the Gatsby Benchmarks and the statutory requirements for career guidance;
  • Share and discuss ideas for innovation and implementation within career guidance.

 

Please hold the date. More information about prices and booking will be available shortly.

iCeGS 20th Anniversary Conference – “Imagining new perspectives on work – the role of career development in shaping futures.”

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The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2018.  To commemorate this fabulous achievement and to mark the occasion we are hosting an international conference on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th May 2018 at the Enterprise Centre, University of Derby, UK.

The event aims to examine how the concept of work might develop and evolve over the next decade and in conjunction with this how the role of career development practitioners might need to adapt to continue supporting individuals in the future.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor David Blustein, (Boston College, USA).
  • Dr Phoebe Moore (University of Leicester)
  • Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE (University of Warwick)
  • Professor Tristram Hooley (University of Derby)
  • Dr Siobhan Neary (Head of iCeGS, University of Derby).

The conference focus is on critical themes shaping the concept of career and the way in which career guidance is theorised and practiced. Topics will include globalisation, social change and technology. There will also be contributions from academics, researchers and practitioners offering 20-minute paper presentations.

For the more details and the conference programme click the link:

https://www.derby.ac.uk/research/icegs/news/icegs-20th-anniversary-conference—programme–booking-information-now-available-.html

To find how to book on the Conference and for more information click the link: https://www.derby.ac.uk/enterprisecentre/events/icegs-conference/

Progression for Success: Evaluating North Yorkshire’s innovative careers guidance project

The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby have been working with North Yorkshire County Council to evaluate their innovative career guidance project ‘Progression for Success’.  The project has provided support to twenty schools and colleges in the North Yorkshire region to help them enhance career guidance provision to young people.  The project aims to improve the employability and career readiness of learners.

The project comes at a time when the government has launched its Careers Strategy for England (DFE 2017)   and the resulting findings from the evaluation add to the evidence base of how the Gatsby Benchmarks of good career guidance underpin the development of excellent career guidance practice.

Key findings from the research show that all schools have remained very positive about their involvement in the project and most have achieved their original goals. Schools have found the project a real catalyst for change. Many of the pilot schools have gone on to achieve quality awards for their career guidance practice. The research indicates that young people value careers education and guidance and understand their relevance to their own career thinking and decision making.”

The report can be downloaded here

The executive summary can be downloaded here