Family pride and sacrifice

This week my wife and I took a day off and visited Borde Hill Gardens near Haywards Heath in Sussex. This is probably one of my new favourite places!!

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Photo; Elaine Catchlove

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Photo: Elaine Catchlove

Afterwards we drove through Haywards Heath and I remembered that my father’s birthplace was nearby in Cuckfield. That led me to do some more family research when I got home, and I came across some amazing information.

My grandmother, who sadly died when my father was only 4, was called Florence Flesher.

As I followed her tree back I found out some amazing facts. Her Grandfather was called Joseph Flesher and this man played a major part in the history of Haywards Heath.

What caught my attention at first was his address in the 1851 Census – 33 Haywards Heath.

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Following the story through I found that there were very few house at the time – and I then came across this story in the Mid Sussex Times

With no railway line, two inns, eight farmhouses, one windmill and house  and nine cottages, its biggest impact on the history books had been during the Civil War when Parliamentarians defeated the High Sheriff of Sussex and his Royalists there as he headed for Lewes.

In 1841 that all changed with the arrival of the railway and the building of a railway tunnel – and now, 175 years later, there are big plans to celebrate the event that put Haywards Heath on the map. The line to what had become a rapidly growing town opened on July 12 1841, branching off from Norwood. 

Initially, passengers heading for Brighton were taken the rest of the way by coach and horses, until the remainder of the line opened on September 21. Funnily enough, if it hadn’t been for villages such as Cuckfield and Wivelsfield declaring they didn’t want the railway coming anywhere near them, Haywards Heath would not be the town it is today. But the route was redrawn and history was made. When it came to the building of the railway tunnel – known as the Folly Hill tunnel – one man’s contribution is literally carved into the stones of history. His name was Joseph Flesher and he was a contractor during the construction of the London to Brighton line. His initials are said to be inscribed into the stone above the entrance to the tunnel south of the station.

In his book ‘Mid Sussex Through The Ages’, published in 1939, Albert E Gregory described Haywards Heath’s transformation with the arrival of the railway. He wrote: “So the centuries old sleep of the Heath was broken by an army of north country navvies and the great change had begun. The railway was completed in 1841. “A north countryman, Mr Flesher, the contractor for this section of the line, took such a fancy to the place that, during the progress of the work, he built a house for himself on top of the tunnel which, under much altered conditions, was called Clevelands, and it was the first house built as a direct result of the railway.”
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This story stirs up quite a lot of pride and excitement – it’s great to know my ancestor played a major part in the development of a town.

However – it has also made made me wonder what happened to the family money. The story handed down in my family is that my grandmother (Joseph’s granddaughter) died when my father was 4 because the family was so poor and she didn’t eat enough. She always made sure that the children ate first.

Thank you Florence Daisy Maude Catchlove (nee Flesher) for loving my Dad so much.

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A call for positive radicalism.

In the light of recent events I believe it is time for us to up our game.

I would like to make a call today for positive radicalism.

Radical Kindness  – Don’t just be kind, but be extraordinarily kind. Go the extra mile. Go the extra 5 miles if you can. Be radically kind.

Radical Generosity – Give to those who need it and give to those who don’t. Give of your time. Give people hope. Give a smile or two … or three.  Give without expectation. Give practically. Be a radical giver.

Radical listening – Listen hard. Listen carefully. Take in what you are hearing. Listen so you can help. Listen so you know when to be quiet. Listen during the silences . Be a radical listener.

Radical empathy – Imagine. Just imagine. Imagine yourself in someone else’s situation. Imagine yourself facing their challenges, their difficulties, their family situations. Be radically empathetic.

Radical forgiveness – We make mistakes. We all make mistakes. We let each other down. We let each other down too often. Make forgiveness your first intention, not hatred or resentment or revenge. Radically forgive.

Radical unity against evil – Argument. Debate. Disagreement. These are signs of healthy and civilised society. We must never lose these. However, we must all radically unite against hatred. Standing together against hatred, against revenge, against bitterness. Radically unite against evil.

Radically Dream – Believe in better. Dream and hope for a society that will improve. A society that is kind and generous, one that listens and empathises, and one that forgives and unites against evil.

My call today is for positive radicalism.

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Leading Light: Lock those doors

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Fundamental Human Needs

Thanks to Mark C Crowley for taking the time to write up this excellent summary of Herman Miller’s thoughts around our fundamental human needs.

Herman Miller continues to explore these  in more detail and we have produced 3 papers focusing on the following Fundamental Human Needs

  • Achievement -We strive for excellence and to feel a sense of mastery in our accomplishments. CLICK HERE for the white paper
  • Belonging – We are tribal, social beings who require meaningful connection with other people. CLICK HERE for the white paper
  • Purpose – We want to make a meaningful difference and to know our work matters. CLICK HERE for the white paper
  • Autonomy –  People want the freedom to choose where and how they accomplish their goals.   CLICK HERE the white paper

Look out for the publication of the other  papers.

If you are interested in a member of Herman Miller’s EMEA Knowledge and Insight Group speaking at your event about this subject, or sharing the research with your company then please contact us by CLICKING HERE

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A guest blog by A C Nia

Who am I – sometimes I’m not too sure

I am easily overlooked and constantly undervalued

I am sometimes viewed as a burden, but I don’t ask for much

My counsel is still valid but it is rarely sought

I can still make decisions, yet they are often made for me

I am still a part of society, but society can’t seem to find me a place

I have many stories to tell, but nobody wants to listen

I have given much, but it never seems quite enough

My experiences have given me wisdom, but everyone seems to know better

I am easily overlooked and constantly undervalued

Who am I – sometimes I’m not too sure

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Sky Central – a visit report

Syon Lane. The most unassuming of train stations. A station which can’t take a full length train. This is the place where I disembarked along with what appeared to be every other person on the train. So big is the crowd disgorging from train, that everyone has to queue to leave the station and get up to road level. Then everyone starts to head north in unison. Just follow the crowd of the casually attired masses. Some walking purposefully. Some unable to give up using the addictive beast that is their smartphone as they amble along. Others having already ready started the days face to face business discussions with colleagues they met on the way out of the station.

These masses walk past the iconic Gillette building on the old A4 and into Grant Way. The home of Sky, and the place where Neil Usher plies his trade as the Workplace Director. As you walk around the corner the scale of the campus starts to hit you. A campus that houses over 7000 people, and everything else that goes along with delivering the services offered by this leading broadcaster.

I am on my way to meet my colleagues from the Herman Miller Knowledge and Insight Group to be given a tour of the latest addition on the campus to be occupied, Sky Central. We are fortunate enough to be getting a tour guided by the aforementioned Mr Usher, alongside the directors of HASSELL, the company responsible for designing the interiors of this new building. As we get to the end of Grant Way, I can’t help noticing the scrap yard right at the bottom of the road, and I think to myself that the owner must be be sitting on a gold mine as he watches the Sky Campus expand and expand.

I am early as is my wont, and I join my colleague Bertie for coffee and breakfast in the Gather and Gather managed coffee bar in the reception area having seamlessly electronically signed in using the QR code that had been sent to me in advance. Good well priced (subsidised) food and drink, served by friendly staff. That’s a great start right there.Then I spot Neil walking through the revolving doors and through reception. The pride on his face is in evidence as he makes his way to the elegant security turnstiles. He quickly came back after dropping his bag off in his electronic locker and the tour began.

The striking new Sky News studio is the first thing that hits you as you walk through to the secure side – seemingly suspended in mid air. This is where the news will be broadcast from – overlooking the working heart of Sky Central. It’s a space where 2 people sit and I am guessing they are the 2 most expensive workstations in the entire building, if not the campus.

Then the full tour begins. A tour which I am not actually going to share in detail. Why? Because I don’t want to give too much away because I really think this is a space that deserves visiting by anyone who has an interest in the world of work.

I will however give you a few thoughts about the space.

  • There is an amazing use of plants – probably the most I have seen inside a building since the LendLease project in London. More importantly they are real plants.
  • The finishes chosen are an eclectic mixture of soft and hard materials…. and there’s wood….lots of wood… lots of beautiful real wood.
  • There is an amazing array of settings in which people can work, some where I would love to work, and others I didn’t find as appealing – but that’s the point. It’s designed to give people choice and we don’t all have the same tastes.
  • The selection of meeting spaces is vast. I would love to come back in 6 months time to find which spaces are really popular and whether some are just too big or too small or too open.
  • It’s a space with the inevitable and oft sought after buzz, but not overwhelmingly noisy.
  • It feels good. “We feel before we think” is a provocation from Herman Miller’s Living Office concept. Sometimes you don’t have to measure stuff or run surveys (although both have their place) you can just get a sense of what feels good. Sky Central feels good.

The team that joined me on the tour felt good

Herman Miller Knowledge and Insight Group

I am sure that you will have the opportunity to visit Sky Central and I would love to hear your views and whether it makes you feel good.

Thank you Neil for your time and I look forward to visiting again very soon with more of my colleagues and maybe the odd prospect or 2.

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It’s not you …. it’s me

Oh Technology – we became so close. We were inseparable. We just couldn’t let each other go. We needed each other. We fulfilled each other.

Then, it all went wrong. I’m sure it’s not you … it’s me.

30 minutes I waited until guests from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, the US and the UK could eventually see my screen. Just when we’d weaved our weary way through the tough bits, you threw them all out again. Why? Why did you have to do that?

I’m sure it’s not you …. it’s me. I trusted you too much. I just expected higher standards from you. You promised me so much.

We will work our way through this together – but that trust we had will take a while to rebuild. That closeness we treasured will take a long while to restore.

I’m sure it’s not you …. it’s me.

 

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