The Casson Memorial Lecture was inaugurated in 1973 and is presented annually to commemorate the work of Dr Elizabeth Casson who opened the first school of occupational therapy in the UK in 1930. Dr Casson recognised the value of occupational therapy and was a pioneer of the profession, so I was very aware of the significance of the honour of being asked to give this lecture and to ensure that her memory and our appreciation of her work lives on.
I was invited to bring a guest to the conference and I was in no doubt that it would have to be my mother, an occupational therapist herself and a great supporter of my career. She was now retired but was keen to have a few days in Brighton, watching my lecture and perhaps catching up with some of her own colleagues and friends in the profession. However all did not go to plan and on the morning of our planned flight from Aberdeen to attend the conference my father called and said ‘Im sorry but you will have to go on your own, I’ve just called an ambulance, your mum is ok but she’s having some difficulty breathing’.
My heart sank, I didn’t want her to be unwell and I certainly didn’t want to leave whilst she was heading to A&E. However, being the strong and determined woman she is my father told me that she was shouting from the back of the ambulance “tell her to get on that plane and deliver that lecture, I haven’t listened to it ten times for her not to go now…” So, with reassurance from the hospital before I departed on the flight that she was stable and doing well I set off for the conference.
I was welcomed and supported over the next few days by the RCOT College staff & Council who made sure I had everything I needed. On the day of the lecture, again reassured by good news from home I entered the conference to present my lecture. Many of the great and the good of the profession were present and a sea of faces stretched out across the auditorium, willing me on and waiting to hear what I had to say.