All through my life, tea has been a constant. We Irish love our tea and that’s for sure. The United Kingdom Tea Council confirms the Republic of Ireland is the largest per capita tea drinking nation. It is consumed on high days and holidays, at happy times and for comfort in sad times. A cup of tea starts a task, progresses a task and finishes a task. As I sit here with my laptop, there is a cup of tea within my reach to help me along my way.
So, with a background steeped in tea, it seems strange that I should be one month short of my fiftieth birthday before I came face to face with that wonderful accoutrement - the tea urn. It was on 22nd September 2010 and in Westacott Business Park of all places. I walked into the NRAS office as a volunteer and Clare greeted me in that most comforting way, ‘first things first, would you like a cup of tea?’
It was from that moment also, that I began to gain some real understanding of Rheumatoid Arthritis and the impact it has on people’s lives. I learned it strikes both young and old, for no obvious reason, and that sadly, there is no cure. As time progressed, I appreciated and admired the vital work done by each and every member of the NRAS team. Whilst helping out in Volunteer Network, I became aware of the numerous group meetings up and down the United Kingdom, where people affected by RA met to support each other and spread the word about the help available at NRAS and beyond.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a viciously debilitating disease but my goodness, from what I have seen, it is borne with much fortitude and courage. The NRAS team, led by the inspirational Ailsa, works tirelessly to improve the life of Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers and their families and I feel honoured to have been involved in some small way during the past eighteen months.
My own personal journey requires me now to stay closer to home and family and I leave the Membership Department on 31st January. But I will think of you often; my colleagues in the NRAS team and the wonderful members and their families.
And please……keep that tea urn switched on. I would love to pop in for a cuppa and a spot of voluntary work from time to time. Thank you all for having me – it has been a pleasure to know and work with you!
Now then, surely it’s time for a cup of tea?