The four existing Trustees all have a lot of relevant experience, knowledge and skills, so you may be wondering who is this Salena Begley? Let me introduce myself …

“Life is like a maze of doors that all open on the side you’re on” so said Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam). I love these lyrics, and for me they speak of life’s as a complex journey, with apparent barriers appearing at every turn. When you experience loss, you can stay where you are, trapped in that painful place, or you can realise that the door opens on the side you’re on, and walk through. You don’t leave the loss behind; you just learn to carry it with you as you move forward.  Life is not always a gentle meander through pleasant meadows, it is often something that has to be pushed through, with the hope that better days lie ahead. I have experienced a number of significant losses and difficult chapters in my life, but thankfully I am resilient and am more inclined to push through than give up. This is how I came across and became involved with the work of Pseudomyxoma Survivor, ten years after the death (as a result of PMP) of my beloved brother Colin.

Colin and I were close friends, each other’s only sibling and close in age. Growing up things weren’t always easy and we lost our dad to alcoholism when we were just 9 and 11. Despite childhood bickering, we grew to savour each other’s company.

In July 2003, I went with Colin for a scan appointment at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow. He’d been unwell for some time (though he masked how ill from everyone, even me). It was his 33rd birthday and as we sat in the café afterwards, I clearly remember thinking that something was seriously wrong. That same day or the next the consultant phoned him, he said he hadn’t seen this condition in twenty years and that Colin was being referred to The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

Journeys in my car to the Christie followed. Around the October Colin underwent major surgery and returned to Glasgow to recuperate. Unfortunately, circumstances were not favourable and on 22nd November I said goodbye to ‘the brother of my youth’ (a pet name I had for him).  His ashes were scattered at Aberdeen Harbour, my aunt read out the words to “Moonriver” (Colin had been a great fan of film and cinema and Audrey Hepburn).

Five years later I hosted a memorial fundraiser “for Colin and The Christie”. Later, as we approached his tenth anniversary I was looking online and stumbled across Pseudomyxoma Survivor. I remember talking to Angela, though not what I said, it meant so much to me to have that contact and to speak to someone who understood.  I then undertook various fundraising activities for The Christie and Pseudomyxoma Survivor to mark Colin’s anniversary. The abseil from Old Trafford was a definite ‘one off’ but running was becoming an important part of my life (I’d taken it up that summer). The charity ball hosted by Kirst Reid had a huge emotional impact on me. The next morning when I went for a walk near the hotel stumbled across the wood where a family friend had had a tree planted in Colin’s memory!

Professionally, I’ve worked in the disability field for many years. I am a social worker to trade and previous experience includes managing and developing short break provision for disabled children and young people, developing a service for families affected by Autism and supporting young carers. I hold an Honours Degree in Social Studies (Social Work) Social Work Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma in Autism. I am now Partnership Manager for a large charity (Family Fund) and promote and develop the work of Family Fund in Scotland. Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. I first worked with Family Fund as an Independent Assessor, becoming Scotland Development Manager in 2010. From 2011-12 I also Chaired for Scotland’s Disabled Children Coalition and remain a co-ordination group member. At New Year, I received an MBE for services to children’s welfare, I am still recovering from the shock!

I have two boys, approaching 16 and 12 years. We enjoy the cinema, getting outdoors and breaks away.  I have recently become a Run Director at Drumchapel parkrun, and my children are both involved in running and volunteering now too. I enjoy music, reading, visiting art galleries and the company of good friends and close family. I hope this has helped you get to know me a little? In turn look forward to getting to know many of you better through my future work as a Trustee.

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