November 26, 2023
‘I beat my depression by helping others – and now it’s my best form of self-defence’
The ring of his phone momentarily distracted Alan Bithell from the dark clouds that were gathering. It had been a long, tough night. Wracked with physical pain and feeling hopeless, he felt that there was no coming back from this. A serious back injury and degenerative arthritis, combined with a long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, had left Alan feeling like he didn’t want to be here anymore. He picked up the phone and heard the voice of his neighbour, Lyle. Lyle needed help drafting a letter and Alan had helped him out with some tech advice in the past, so he thought he’d be able to pitch in again. Alan said: “I showered, got dressed and went around to help. “After we finished the letter, I remember going home and making a coffee. “I sat down and it hit me, I no longer felt depressed. “That was a lightbulb moment for me. Now I try to help people wherever I can, it’s a form of self-defence from my mental health problems.” Learning the right way to respond to the darkness That was eight years ago. Alan’s revelation prompted him to get involved with Highland mental health charity Spirit Advocacy, going on to serve as its chairman. He also joined his local community council in Golspie and studied for a qualification in mental health peer support at UHI. Alan, 60, said: “Everything followed from that moment helping Lyle. “Don’t get me wrong, I still get those dark thoughts now. “But it’s not about whether or not the thought occurs. What matters is what I do about it. “Do I dwell in that place or find something to get myself out of it? I judge my recovery on how easily I can get out of that thought pattern.” Alan’s physical health played a big part in his later struggles. A bad fall on the ice as he walked home from work a decade ago left him with a broken back and it took years for his injury to be properly diagnosed. When it eventually was, a doctor concluded he’d been suffering from ankylosing spondylitis – a serious condition which causes inflammation of the spine – from around the age of 14. Pain and health struggles added pressure That pain is just something Alan has to live with. And his mental health struggles have been going on for some time. Growing up in Oldham, near Manchester, his father suffered from PTSD after serving in the Second World War. Alan served in the RAF and various other jobs took him around England and to Germany and Saudi Arabia. Returning home to work as a signalman on the railway, he found himself working all hours of the day combining his Job with caring for his disabled mother. If I can talk about my situation and help someone, I’m happy with that.” That career ended when he suffered two transient ischaemic attacks, often referred to as “mini-strokes”, before his 40th birthday. Fond memories of Kinloss from his time in the RAF prompted his move north and he eventually settled in Golspie. He lives a less stressful life now and tries to be as open as possible about his own struggles. What more can be done? Living in the Highlands, Alan has seen how much discussions about suicide prevention have become part of the region’s fabric. He believes the health service can only do so much, and the onus should be on the rest of our society to pick up the slack. Alan said: “These problems are real and we’ve all got to do what we can about it. “All these things that happened to me, they’re a part of who I am now. “But I’m still constantly trying to develop new coping methods. I’ve just got a new puppy and that’s effectively one. “If I can talk about my situation and help someone, or give them the confidence to talk about how they’re feeling, I’m happy with that.” How to get help It is so important that if you are having thoughts of suicide, you reach out to someone. living in the Highlands who have experience of mental ill-health. It is a part of Spirit Advocacy and can be reached on 0300 365 9366. There are a number of other local and national groups offering support in time of crisis or mental distress. If you are concerned about someone else don’t be afraid to ask, “are you OK?” and help them to get help.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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