At the start of the meeting on April 14th Barbara told us about the Lancashire Federation
AGM at Lytham. The speaker was the mother of a young man killed in the Manchester.
Arena bombing and her talk was understandably very moving. Barbara said that the
meeting had been very well worth attending and encouraged others to go next time.
Our talk on Life and Health in Malawi was given by Dr Gill Pilling who was a GP in
Lancashire before moving to Scotland where she worked in a clinic which was attached to
a hospital in Malawi. She still makes regular visits to the country even though she has
retired. Malawi is a very poor country with no natural resources and no exports. Most
people live in small villages of mud brick houses and it is normally very dry. However,
recently a cyclone washed away crops and houses. The people are short of dietary
protein so they eat ants and grasshoppers and a mouse is a delicacy. Primary school is
free but secondary has to be paid for so not many parents can afford to pay for their
children to attend. There are dilapidated buses for transport but most people walk and
this lack of transport is a problem for the Health Service. Other problems are a lack of
medicines, malnutrition and malaria. Hospitals are overcrowded, short of water, supplies
and staff and parents often sleep on the floor. Dr Pilling gives palliative care to parents,
adding some quality of life to their remaining days, so she takes as many palliative care
drugs as she can out to Malawi and she also trains nurses in this field. She partly funds
her work by selling very colourful items made from local cloth in Malawi and these were
on sale after the talk. She was a truly inspirational speaker. Barbara Garnett won the
competition for an African item.

On May 12th we started the meeting by drinking a toast to King Charles lll, Duke of
Lancaster. Jane Storer reported on an enjoyable walk to see the spring flowers in
Oxember Wood, followed by lunch at the café in Feizor.

We had two speakers, Karen Hine and Louisa Balderson, who took us into the world of
Dragon Boat Racing. They are both members of Paddlers for Life, a support charity for
people who have had breast or other forms of cancer plus their relatives. Louisa started
dragon boat racing in Liverpool after treatment for breast cancer. The group then raised
funds for two dragon boats to be based at Low Wood on Windermere. They now have
about 80 members who do not actually race but enjoy powering themselves on the lake,
socialising and looking at the scenery. However some of the members do go racing in
dragon boats elsewhere. Each boat takes 20 people and is dressed up before going on the
water with a drum, a seat for the helm and flowers, fruits, etc. The drummer’s drumbeat
is the heart of the boat. The whole experience of getting the boat ready, rowing and
having fun together is important and therapeutic for all who take part. Karen and Louisa
brought along a model of the boat, the drum as well as other items to show us. It was a
fascinating and very enjoyable evening. Barbara Bellis and Veronica Atkinson were joint
winners of the competition for a dragon.