|Sally Fallon Morell, founder of the Weston A Price Foundation with the organisers Brendan O'Brien, myself, Caroline Rigney and Anne Maher|
Thomond Park in Limerick has been the setting for many epic days. From the infamous win over the All-Blacks in 1978 to the more recent "miracle match" against Gloucester in 2003, this is hallowed ground, a place which holds Limerick people's hearts, even if you are not a rugby fan.
Last weekend was another epic event, a two-day conference focusing on food, nutrition, farming, and most of all, empowering people to take control of their own health, and the health of their children. The Wise Traditions Ireland event was huge. Huge in the numbers of delegates, huge in the message being delivered and huge in the emotional impact it had on its attendees. They came from all walks of life - nutritional therapists, farmers, food producers, special needs parents, bloggers, and others who simply wanted to educate themselves about real nutrition. The numbers were particularly impressive given that the Weston A Price Foundation is not well known in Ireland. The number of members is low and there are only 3 local chapters. That, I suspect, is about to change! I am just about to return my local chapter application in the next few days and I believe there will be more.
One of my personal highlights from a busy weekend was the raw milk debate - which was a bit one-sided(!) but which saw raw milk farmers and advocates, including Darina Allen, speak so passionately about the benefits of drinking raw milk and also of their efforts to ensure the sale of raw milk will not be banned in Ireland. The panel asked the audience how many people present drink raw milk on a regular basis and were surprised to find that about half the delegates raised their hands! Raw milk and raw cheese was on sale at the exhibitors stands from the Little Milk Company, Derg Farmhouse Cheese and Frank Shinnick.
We were lucky to have such a diverse range of exhibitors, from milk and cheese producers to nutritionists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, dentists and supplement producers. They were all very busy over the weekend. We had exhibitors from all over Ireland, the UK and even a wonderful couple from Austria who gave out so many samples all weekend, of their deliciously healthy goodies. My son who still eats grain-free and sugar-free was delighted that Mum came home with a huge bag full of tasty healthy "Free-Of" treats! Martin and Karin Staple were another highlight of the conference and I think they will remember fondly their week in Ireland! I could talk all day about the friendships forged and the connections made last weekend, it was a special event, filled with genuinely special people.
My big stand-out moment though, was when another GAPS mum, introduced her son to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride for the first time and posed for a photo. I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. Gratitude - for this amazing woman, for her book and for the lives she has changed, and possibly saved. Pride - in myself for taking a leap of faith in GAPS, for persevering through difficult years and continuing to nourish my son, and pride in all the other Mums for taking that same leap in the first place! There was also relief - relief that I was given that book early enough to make a real difference to my son. It was a flood!! By the time my own son came to have his picture taken with Dr Natasha I had calmed down and regained my composure!
There were so many highlights in the process of putting on this event - the teamwork between the four of us organisers was fantastic. The incredibly hard-working volunteers who gave hours and hours of their time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday working like crazy obsessed people stuffing bags, sticking up signs, fixing chairs and tables and basically telling me to calm down! The staff of Thomond Park who were genuinely interested in our message and approached everything with a wonderfully pleasant attitude. Philip who came over from London and was a mine of information! The chef and catering company who produced such wonderul food, and who were encouragingly enthusiatic about our very precise requests surrounding the menu! The exhibitors who were so friendly and pleasant and delighted to be there. Thomond Park itself, like a shining beacon of hope and expectation. You get the idea, it was a very positive experience!!
On Sunday after Dr Natasha had finished the last talk, there was a standing ovation. It was fantastic! And then Anne Maher called Brendan O'Brien, Caroline Rigney and myself to the stage, where we were treated to another standing ovation. This was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my life. I hope and pray that everyone present took away the same positive uplifting memories that I have! As the audience stood, Sally Fallon Morell took the microphone and spoke to the audience about the importance of becoming members of the foundation. She told us that New Zealand has more members per capita than any country in the world. She challenged the Irish to beat New Zealand, and Brendan took the microphone and explained to Sally that she was in the right place to issue a challenge like that!!