Crazy Girl

Those of you who have known me a while will know why I’ve a section called ‘crazy girl’.  You may even have called me that yourself?  I have mentioned some of the craziness in previous posts such as the time I decided to jump off the Tyne Bridge because the event was on my birthday.  Or when I signed up for a 100 mile bike ride before I learnt to ride a bike!  Thank heavens one of my fabulous clients is a cycling coach.

Thanks to another lovely client I am back taking dance classes after an absence of… well let’s just say my last exam at Newcastle Dance Centre was for disco!

Clients have introduced me to so many new adventures other than cycling.  I have done Zumba (thank you Lindsey Thomson-Heley); Scottish Country Dancing (I know bizarre); indoor climbing; blind running; horse riding; been a First Responder; danced the Sandana in Barcelona for independence for Catalunya; read more widely; tried new theatre, film and music shows; tried new recipes… and drinks (you wicked lot); visited new countries; got involved in charity events; learnt some British Sign Language; enjoyed rides in a hot air balloon and helicopter.  Not bad for a few highlights.

Finally let me say a big thank you for sharing all this with me and taking me in directions I would otherwise have missed.  Here’s to more craziness and happiness for us all, thank you.

bosnia 3Zip one webFlamenco


One of the great pleasures of being a massage therapist are the opportunities it provides for experiences and adventures.  In fact too many to mention here but some stand out in my memory for what they have meant to me but also to you, my clients.

I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing organisations, some inspiring charities and incredible people.  People who push me to be the best therapist I can and inspire me to do more.

I think my first big adventure was when asked to teach massage for the International Therapy Examination Council to nursing and physiotherapy staff at a hospital in Tesanj, Bosnia Herzegovina.  It was encouraging and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Then who can forget London 2012?  Probably the best working experience I will ever have.  I love London and as a frequent visitor for many years feel very at home in the city.  Yet in the summer of 2012 London was transformed into a friendly, joyous hub of the best of all of us.  Working as part of a multidisciplinary team was new to me but working with people who being their ‘A’ game every day is an incredible environment to be in.  I felt the Olympic Village change between pre competition, competition and post competition; you could feel the difference in the air.  The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was a similar opportunity in another friendly and exciting city but for me nothing will equal London 2012.

My career has put me in touch with athletes from Olympic champions to beginners and serious amateurs; sporting clubs both professional and amateur; business leaders; dancers; armed service personnel and even a Prime Minister.  I feel I’ve witnessed the whole range of highs and lows that make us human.

It has been great to look back at the opportunities so far and I can only anticipate what more could be in store.  One thing I know for sure it will be full of wonderful people and exciting adventures.

Paralympic Games
Paralympic Games
Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
Phoenix Aid, Bosnia
Phoenix Aid, Bosnia

Qualifying times

During the past twenty years I have endeavoured to bring as much knowledge and skill as possible to the clinic and my clients.  I have been in almost continuous self development and study and had fun ‘trialling’ new treatments with some of you.  This practise and feedback has greatly helped my development as a therapist.

For me my proudest achievement came in 2011 when I became the first UK therapist to gain a Level 5 Diploma with the International Therapy Examinations Council.  Maybe I should point out I was qualified prior to that in 1999, just in case you were wondering!

I have chosen a selection of training to post as a reminder of 20 years of therapeutic massage but I’m making no promises there won’t be more.  Watch this space.cert ed 1HRL5HR coffee stationery

helen and associates

Helen and Associates

I realise 20 years is a long time and as I’ve said before, my work has provided some incredible opportunities and experiences.

I will share some of my crazy ones later, but for now I have been looking back at all the people and businesses I have worked alongside.

I have certainly been a very lucky girl and made some good friends along the way.

Aston Hotels
The Attic Photography, Ponteland
Behind the Scenes, Ponteland
Consett Rugby Club
Daoyin Tao
Darras Hall Physio
Derwentside College
Eagles Basketball
English Institute of Sport
English Women’s Rugby
Gateshead College
Gateshead Early years
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Great North Run
Hexham Therapy Centre
Hollytree School, Darlington
Injury Prevention Massage
International Therapy Examination Council
Kevin Bell Physiotherapy
Lindsey Thomson-Heley, Zumba
London 2012 Paralympic Games
MINT Business Club
Newcastle Dance Centre
North Yorkshire School of Therapy
Ohashiatsu London
Osborne Clinic, Jesmond
Phoenix Aid Bosnia Herzegovina
Physiotherapy Matters
Ponteland Print
Shared Beauty Secrets, Lava Shells
St. Oswald’s Hospice
Sunderland University
Tough Mudder, Edinburgh


thank you

Sweet Charity

I have a surprise for you, or maybe it’s a shock? Here is a list of all the charities the clinic has supported with your help over the last twenty years.

I haven’t kept a record of how much we’ve raised but your generosity has always overwhelmed me.

From small beginnings with a Lavender day in 2001 for St. Oswald’s Hospice to the Tour de France in 2014 for Macmillan Cancer Support via a trip to work in a Bosnian hospital and a jump off the Tyne Bridge for Arthritis Research.


Alzheimer’s Society
Anthony Nolan Trust
Arthritis Research
Brain Tumour Research
Cancer Research
Children in Need
Darras Hall First School
Macmillan Cancer Support
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
The Nicole Rich Foundation
The People’s Kitchen
Phoenix Aid – Bosnia Herzegovina
Ponteland Duck Race
Ponteland Party in the Park
Ponteland Repertory Society
St. Oswald’s Hospice


20 year anniversary

20 years and counting!

It is hard to know where to start talking about the last twenty years since the clinic was established in June 2000. My career has allowed me so many experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had and the opportunity to get to know so many amazing people. Oh the stories I could tell!

People are without doubt what makes a massage practice. I will never underestimate the privilege it is to be allowed into someone’s life the way a therapist is. I have shared happiness and sadness; births and deaths; marriages, birthdays and anniversaries; successes, failures, mishaps and much hilarity. I have learnt so much about subjects I would not have otherwise discovered and solved many, many personal and world problems with clients over the massage couch. I hold ‘putting the world to rights’ with clients as one of my favourite pastimes. No doubt there will be some read this and think yes, that’s me!

I am without doubt wiser and more informed and able to understand different opinions about the world around me because of conversations in the clinic. You have no idea the pleasure I get when I add a snippet of information on a topic I have no connection to gleaned from the random conversations in the clinic. It is delicious fun to astound friends and family with something they don’t expect me to know!

Maybe one day I’ll write that book and share all my experiences with you of course missing all those personal details to maintain client confidentiality. Perhaps you’ll recognise yourself in there?

For now I intend to post some of my biggest and best memories of the past twenty years. Please feel free to comment or add your own. It is nice now and then to walk down Memory Lane.

I am sorry we can’t celebrate together as planned but next year let’s party like we’re 21 again… because we will be.

Happy anniversary and thank you.

Desert Island

Time on our hands

As we take some enforced time away from our normal routines, take time to remember, reflect and reset.

I am a regular listener to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4. I love to treat myself to a really good cup of coffee and 30 minutes sitting down listening to someone else’s life story, I guess it is one of my guilty pleasures.

The concept is very simple, the presenter Kirsty Young prepares to cast away the interviewee with only a few creature comforts. You are given the King James Bible, the complete works of Shakespeare and one book of your choice along with a luxury item and your number one choice from a selection of 8 pieces of music that capture your life. Then that is you on a desert island for all eternity! But do we really need anything more? There is much to be said for a simple life, we are surrounded by ‘things’ that we think we need but we could probably all get by with less than we do.

However, it isn’t just about simplicity it is about reflection and looking at what has really made a difference to you in your life. We live at such a pace in the modern world it is often hard to find time to reflect and think about what we are proud of, happy with or unhappy with. Until we know the answers to this we cannot live a full and happy life.

I have always been an avid reader so my choice of book has to be something large and varied; my choice would be the complete works of Dickens. Here I can read new books I haven’t found time for yet and rediscover old favourites such as the heroic Nicholas Nickleby.

Music becomes more difficult to select as it has played such a large part in my life and certain songs carry memories or can change my mood all of a sudden. Then of course my choices change very often when I listen to the program and hear other peoples’!
So here goes with my current selection:

Book – Complete works of Charles Dickens
Luxury item – coffee machine

My 8 discs
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
I Want You – Bon Jovi
Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana – Mascagni
Fly me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra
Mazurka from Copellia – Delibes
Jump –Van Halen
Xanadu – Olivia Newton John
Can’t’ Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley (the one I would cling to most).

It is a thoughtful and satisfying thing to do and focuses you on what you like about your life. Why not give a go and decide on your own Desert Island choices?

Or look on line and see what your heroes have picked, there are certainly some surprises and a real insight into the meaning of a life.

photo of Elvis Presley CD and books
My Desert Island choices

The chair is a killer

As we are all now spending more time in our living rooms it is a good time to remember the mantra ‘the chair can kill so don’t sit still.’

There was a really interesting episode of Horizon on the BBC exposing ‘The Truth About Exercise’. It raised some excellent and thought provoking points, not least that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to exercise is not the way forward, we need less generic fitness manuals. As we all respond to and like different things so it will be with our chosen form of exercise.

However, for me the most striking point was raised by Dr. James Levine (Mayo Clinic) who claimed with a touch of hyperbole that “the chair is a killer”. He is advocating a ‘get moving stay active’ approach to health.

In the episode presenter Michael Mosley tested the theory for 24 hours. He admitted to a sedentary job and similar lifestyle so for the 24 hours he moved about as much as possible, standing when talking on the telephone, taking stairs instead of lifts, walking whenever possible.

Just everyday activities we can all take advantage of if we put our minds (and bodies) to it. In the one day he burned an extra 500 calories – no sweat, no cost, no extra time, very little effort but a great result.

By simply moving more in our daily lives we could see real health benefits, more so if we are currently stuck in a sedentary way of life.

I accept that this is a limited form of exercise but it is an excellent starting point for anyone new to exercise and a way to increase for those of us already convinced of the benefits of staying fit and active.

So my challenge to us all echoes Dr. Levine – my new mantra is ‘the chair can kill so don’t sit still’. I invite you to join me.

*If you have any medical condition or are unused to physical exercise it is advisable to consult your physician before beginning any exercise programme.


Holiday health – Well being

Well we’re not exactly on holiday but many of us have more time at home than we usually do. As for the amazing key workers who are still at work doing such a phenomenal job please still try to be kind to yourself. These are very unusual times that most of us never thought we’d see in our lifetime and using this time for renewal is crucial.

I am not necessarily talking about learning a new skill or learning to speak a foreign language, although both of these would be a good use of the time, but learn to relax and take care of your own well being. The biggest aim is to get through this safely and with our well being intact and preferably improved.

This is a blog post from summer 2015 when we were all looking forward to sunshine holidays and a break from routine. Well, no holidays this year but certainly a break or change of routine. The chance to relax and revitalise on holiday is of vital importance but maybe we can follow the same rules and improve our well being at home.

Review, renew, resolve
Holidays allow us time to reflect – on life and on work. Do you always get the balance right? Giving yourself some me time allows your mind to switch off and can bring clarity to your thoughts. Just allow the thoughts to come and go, maybe make a note of some insights to come back to once the holiday time comes to an end. Don’t address everything at once or you could use all your time off thinking about when you get back.

Think about any resolutions or goals you had for the new year. Have you achieved them and need new ones? Are you not there yet and need to redefine? Take this opportunity to look at the balance of your life and make sure it is just how you want it. This is the only life you have right now and no one else can make it how you want, you have to do that for yourself.

If finding your way is too difficult or you don’t know what you want, try different things until you find your niche or read so-called ‘self help’ books for inspiration. Here are a few suggestions.

* Chicken Soup for the Soul
* Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach
* Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
* The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
* Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
* The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

Self Help
* The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma
* The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck
* The Chimp Paradox, Dr. Steve Peters

Biographies to inspire and entertain
* How to be Champion, Sarah Millican
* Becoming, Michelle Obama
* My Story, Jo Malone
* Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

For more prescriptive inspiration why not read autobiographies of your hero or favourite sports person? There are some amazing stories out there from people just like you, be one of them!

Helen in lockdown
Me in lockdown
Helen in coffee shop
In a coffee shop – remember those days?!

Advent Promise Remembered

This was originally posted Christmas 2016 reminding us to think of others even when we are really busy with our own lives and problems. I don’t think this has ever been more important in my lifetime.

Kindness comes in two forms; kindness to others but also to yourself. If you know someone who may be alone or struggling, reach out to them; if it’s you, reach out to someone who can talk to you. Those of you who know me know that talking is one of my favourite things… just ask.
Although this original post was about Christmas cheer, it is relevant now when we need cheering more than ever. Some of the kindness suggested cannot be practised now because of our new favourite phrase ‘social distancing’ but let’s be kind from a distance.

Do you remember the excitement of putting up the advent calendar when you were a child? It meant Christmas was really on its way. It’s a practise I gave up years ago but I saw something this week that is making me reinstate the idea of ‘opening a door’ each day.

I have spoken in the year and in the clinic about Random Acts of Kindness and how they are so easy to do and so lovely to receive. So every day in advent I plan to ‘open a door’ and spread Christmas cheer with random acts of kindness. The easiest will be to smile, holding a door open or acknowledging a kindly driver who lets me through the traffic. I will try to remember that the person holding up the supermarket queue may be chatting to the cashier because it is the only conversation they will have today.
I challenge you to join me and we can all add up our open doors on Christmas Eve and congratulate ourselves for spreading the real meaning of Christmas.

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own”
Adam Lindsay Gordon

Helen Richardson
Be kind x