Author: Alec Milne
Date : October 2006
The third week in October will see the first ‘Kingston Weekend’ to take place away from its spiritual home in the Highlands of Scotland. When Kingston closed in 1988 it was on biological rather than economic grounds. An offer that was made in 1982, conditional on development consent being obtained, finally came good in 1988, and allowed C. Leslie Thomson to take his well deserved retirement. The extraordinary thing in those last six years was the buoyancy of the support Kingston continued to receive from patients. This was why two years later the first ‘Kingston Fortnight’ took place in Boat of Garten, just north of Aviemore in a Guest House rented for that purpose. The driving force was the combination of Audrey Sharples and Barbara Smith (retired head teachers), myself, and the siren voice luring us to the Boat, that of Wils Gibson, tirelessly parading the advantages of the place. For a fortnight in the spring, and another one in the autumn, the simple virtues of Nature Cure were put into practice at a number of different Guest Houses, none better than that run by Christine Morrison and Tim Wallwork. The formula, as at Kingston, was an attempt at a healing one. The food - organic and vegetarian, daily walks and daily treatments, exercise classes, and every effort made to create a happy, healing and supportive atmosphere. It was billed as an education in healthy living, and it underlined the old adage that prevention is the better part of cure.
So for a period of fifteen years the Kingston Fortnights thrived. The maximum number was 17 and it was felt that really strained the facilities and atmosphere. The optimum was twelve. No walks were cancelled because of the weather, nor except for perhaps one or two, were they ever in doubt, the climate so good. The hardihood of the members continued to astonish, with even the octogenarians managing the approximately two-hour session. A faster group of perhaps three or four would do a more arduous version of the standard walk whatever it was. One member was able to walk further in the final year than when she struggled with the walks in Year One. For myself, I went from leader to last but one. Dinah Williams (95) continued to keep up with the rest, in her calm, unhurried and rhythmic way. The group atmosphere so vital, was amazing.
All good things must come to an end, and we were approaching this, when Stewart Mitchell arrived on the scene, offering help. Stewart having cut his naturopathic teeth at Kingston has developed his naturopathic practice over a period of twenty-five years, latterly in Devon. He has written at least one very readable exposition on Nature Cure, has acquired a visiting professorial role at an American College, is a born story teller (as against what could be thought of as the boring instructive sessions that we had at the Boat) and is just the person to take over the running of the project at his home village of Changford. The scenery will be different, but the formula much the same, will be given a lift. A different market is there to be tapped, and Stewart just the man to do it.
The idea was that there would be a spring session in the Cairngorm and an autumn one in Devon. It is now apparent that with his growing family responsibilities, Stewart will not be able to come up north next year. This is a disappointment to me. I feel there is something magical about the air purity in the Highlands, the scenery and the great flowing river of the Spey and I am already committed to going there in the spring for my own personal health needs. Perhaps a solution will arrive over the winter months, although at this moment the spring session will go ahead at Changford.
Those of you who are following the release of the five Files will be interested to go to ‘Events’ and contrast what is being offered there. There is our one led by Stewart Mitchell, and a similar one, but with a different emphasis, led by Atul Shah for the same period in Yorkshire. Both are from the same Kingston stable.
Response: Lyanne Mitchell
Having had some experience of the Kingston Fortnight at the Boat of Garten, I can personally vouch for its rejuvinating effect. The scenery is wonderful, the air, the food, the peace, the company ....all combine to create a healing boost to one's system and energy.
Times change. 'The spirit is willing'......but Sandy could not continue forever. I am so glad that Stewart Mitchell has been able to inherit and embrace leadership of this event, albeit in a new location.
I am sure that I am not alone in saluting Sandy Milne (and his team), for years of hard work and commitment. Stewart is a worthy standard bearer for the Kingston Fortnight and it will continue to flourish in his safe and experienced hands. I am confident that he will now build on the success, loyalty and support of regular attenders, appreciating the solid foundations that Sandy established in the North, over 16 years.
May I take this opportunity to express sincere thanks to Sandy, on behalf of all ex-patients / attenders...and to wish Stewart every possible success in the future.
Although I must admit to feeling, and being quite naive,on the subject under discussion, am willing to be the fool that rushes in,"where angels fear to tread".
My gut reaction to this discussion, and this may well be based upon my own personal bias, that it would be nice to somehow combine this event with the ISRN,AGM so that we all may partcipate to a greater or lesser degree, according to our ability to do so.
I personally, would love to partcipate and support this venture. Owing to distance and time though, have limitations upon my being able to do so. Hence my suggestion.