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1st February - 28th February

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Hello Everyone

I left the house very early in the morning the other day. As I drove through the villages I was careful – it had been a cold night and the ground still looked frosty in places. Huddled at bus stops were school children wrapped up in woolly scarves, great ruck sacks at their feet or on their backs, their intimate conversations coming out in puffs of frosty air.

It seemed all so quiet and muted – my car gliding along in its silent, all-electric way. I looked up now and then, up at the sky ahead, and there she was, Mount Canigou, a wonderful white mass looking like a child’s painting, a flat, one-dimensional cut-out stuck on a pale blue pre-dawn sky.

Our AGM was held on a cold and frosty 25 January in Carcassonne.

In spite of the weather, there were over 40 of us and after the formalities we heard from our President Jane Beck. She started by saying that 2022 had not been easy after Covid. There are 5 areas in Sud P-O so we need a large amount of people to cover it. We now have 188 members and our Active Listeners and Volunteers are very important to us. She talked about other associations in the Sud and said she is looking to improve awareness of CSF Sud by contacting these associations in each of the areas.

She thanked all the people involved with our events over the past year and then mentioned the people on the Conseil who are leaving, with particular reference to our own Maggie Longworth. Maggie said this was an emotional day for her and she was going to miss a lot of people but she wasn’t going away, just standing down from the Conseil. She finished by saying that she has had so many good years and memories (not a dry eye!).

Sue Ackloo, our Treasurer, talked about the money bit, as she called it, and told us she’d be brief in order to keep us awake! At the end, she said some of last year’s donations had been quite significant and she thanked people for their generosity, particularly those who had donated in memoriam of departed loved ones.

Cathy Pugh who as Support Coordinator liaises with Active Listeners, spoke about Training and Client Contact. CSF has a duty to provide support and care to its members and clients to ensure the volunteer/client relationship is safe and effective. Regular contact is necessary to keep skills topped up and developed.

When the business part of the meeting was over, it was time to sit back and listen to Colin Taylor talking about Pigeonniers. He took us through the whole history of these delightful towers, which seem to be more prevalent in the southern part of France – there are 6,000 in Occitanie for example. He told us that during the French Revolution, pigeons were eating better than the poor people. There were many other fascinating facts and photographs of towers through the ages, taking us right up to the end of the 19 century.

Ending on a high note he said pigeons mate for life, the female lays 2 eggs and both the male and the female sit on the eggs. A sad fact though: to keep the numbers down, city councils have started to sterilise the eggs using a special type of grain food, causing birds which eat the grain to lay eggs that fail to develop. All the fun without the flocks!

Our new Departmental Rep is  JILL MERRIAM

I’m delighted to say that Jill Merriam is to be our new Departmental Representative for the P-O. Jill has lived in the P-O since 2017. She has a degree in Modern Languages, so a fluent French speaker, and has studied child psychology and mental health. She joined the Samaritans as a listening volunteer in 2010 and worked for them until she came to France. She enjoys gardening, cooking and walking in the mountains with her red border collie.
Welcome Jill! We look forward to having you with us.

Drop Ins

Wednesday 1 January, Pablo’s Bar, Céret, 10.30

Come along for coffee and chat. There will also be books and Céret is a great place to meet up with friends.`

Wednesday 15 January, Villa Lafabrègue, Prades, 10.15

Catch up with friends at this splendid villa. Very cosy and warm. This month two of our members, Paul and Sheila Doherty, will talk about their trip to Borneo called How We Get There.

Monday 20 February, Café des Artistes, 10.15

The Café des Artistes is open again! Please come and bring your paperbacks to swop. Have a coffee or two and chat with friends

Looking ahead

Thursday 23 March, Printemps de la cancérologie, Palais des Congrès, Perpignan

CSF will have a stand at this event. No more details yet but here’s what it’s all about.

The aim of the conference is to present to the general public the various preventive measures, the latest therapeutic advances and the support offered to the patients and their relatives throughout the course of care.

It’s an all day event and during the afternoon professionals specialising in the various fields will present several themes to you. After each talk there will be a time for discussion when you can ask questions and speak to the specialists.

Thursday 7th September, Walk for Life, Maureillas

Although it is still to be confirmed by the Mairie, please pencil this date in your diary. More will certainly follow!

Please remember that if anyone is struggling or needing help, the CSF telephone and email helplines are always open.   We are there for everyone needing assistance at this time as well as for those affected by cancer. There is also lots of information on our website.

Diana Eastaff


1st February
28th February
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