A perfect environment: Cardinal Newman College

I was invited to a 'meet the author' event at Preston's Cardinal Newman College yesterday, in their fabulous new library. What a delight it was. As Paul and I approached the Frenchwood area we were totally impressed with the college buildings, a perfect mix of old and new architecture. As the sun provided some warmth we felt good walking through the grounds to the impressive entrance, grandly overlooking superb gardens. Cardinal Newman was ranked best sixth form college in the country in 2008, although we'd never heard of it. The college building was once Larkhill Convent School for girls, and home to the Faithful Companion of Jesus Sisters. Before that it was a mill owners home. From the moment we stepped through the doors we realised that the positive aspects of this establishment didn't stop with the physical environment. The staff were warm and friendly, calm and responsive. This wasn't just to us as visitors, I noted how they interacted with each other and treated each other with respect. They smiled. The students looked happy too, opened doors for us (again with a smile) and the ethos of the college radiated through to us immediately.

In 2006 I was lucky enough to be involved in an educational programme Being with Patients which aimed to promote awareness of the human needs of patients and relatives when in hospital. The project highlighted the importance of a caring approach throughout the hospital which would ultimately speed recovery. It was the brainchild of an amazing colleague, Brigid Reid. I learned so much through being involved and the participants reported how it made a difference at patient level. What struck me yesterday at the College was the fact that they 'had it'. Everything that we tried to do within our organisation was here, working beautifully. What a difference it makes!

I met excited students who had been accepted on the midwifery degree programme at UCLan (what an achievement!), and those who were studying health and social care. Paul and I met lovely members of staff, some of whom had been students at the college not many years before....always a good sign!

I then gave a talk to the students about my career and writing Catching Babies.

I also signed books that were being sold by Sara from Waterstones, and copies won in a competition!

Thank you Claire Moore (and Sara) for inviting me to be involved in your work. The whole morning made us smile.