The future is robotic

I had a glimpse into the future recently when I attended a robotics competition hosted by De Montfort School in Evesham.

Robots from across the country attended to compete for a place at both the national and world championships. De Montfort has already secured its place at the VEX World Championships in Louisville, Kentuck, USA in April this year after winning an excellence award at a robotics competition held at Stowe School. There are only four excellence awards for the whole UK.

The De Montfort team

The competition began at 10am and the presentations were made at 3.30pm by four judges and myself.  It was quite fascinating to see the scope of the different robots, which were built mostly under teacher’s guidance at the various schools, although there was one young student, aged 12, who designed and built his own robot completely on his own – no mean task.

One of the team’s explaining the way their robot worked

The moves these robots can make and actions they can take in a competition  is really quite stunning.  I came away with a wider knowledge of what young students, boys and girls, can achieve.  Some of them, I am sure will be the engineers of tomorrow.  I wish the De Montfort team every success when they travel to Kentucky in April.  They really deserve to do well.

John and I attended The Guildhall in Worcester on 24 February, to take part in the Mayor of Worcester’s charity auction in aid of his charities – Midlands Air Ambulance, YHA Breaks for kids and Action for Children.

After light refreshments, the evening commenced with singing by Sass Cappella – a group of six sassy ladies who love to sing in harmony and who offered the chance to choose the final song they would sing from their entertainment to whoever made the highest bid – which was £50.

Something in the region of £2,015 was raised on the auction itself, with lots ranging from original paintings by local artist Peter Carey, tickets for rugby and cricket matches, family membership for the Wildlife & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, afternoon tea and a tour of the House of Lords to a miniature replica of an original statue by Ken Potts of “The Presidents”.

The full sized statue depicting US Presidents Adams and Jefferson will be erected in Fort Royal Park, Worcester

A light-hearted and enjoyable evening spent in The Assembly Room at The Guildhall ablaze with its beautiful chandeliers.

We returned to Worcester University last week to listen to the third annual Judy Dale lecture delivered by Prof Ilora Finlay (Baroness Finlay of Llandaff) entitled Dying and Living.

This was an excellent lecture which investigated the use of palliative care, not only in hospitals but in hospices, and went further  into the difficult discussions and decisions based around assisted dying and euthanasia.  Whilst the UK is one of the top countries for its palliative care services, Prof Finlay stressed that as a country we must not get complacent, there is still much work to do with the way we deliver these services, bearing in mind that as a nation we are living longer.

Mark Jackson, Chief Executive of St Richard’s Hospice (my charity for the year), myself and Prof Ilona Finlay

Several examples of how Oregon (USA), the Netherlands and Swtitzerland deal with assisted dying/euthanasia were quoted – quite different to the UK but after discussing various points on this subject Prof. Finlay concluded that we should not change the laws of this country on assisted dying/euthanasia.  Several cases were quoted where patients had insisted they wished to die, only to find their conditions had improved and with palliative care they could lead acceptable lives, and had, indeed, lived longer than their original prognosis.

Professor Finlay is an extremely talented lady, not only is she still a GP, she has many interests within the health field, is a mother and sits in the House of Lords.  She travelled up to Worcester yesterday afternoon, after sitting for the Brexit vote and was returning to London after the lecture.  A most interesting and thought-provoking lecture delivered in an easy to understand manner by a very approachable and friendly lady.

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