Exactly seventeen years after the Findhorn Foundation deed was signed, the very same words describing the same purposes were enshrined in the document which created the Newbold Trust. Thus on November 17th when the Foundation turned fifty, Newbold House celebrated its 33rd birthday. As our nearest birthday to a third of a century this felt well worthy of celebration and we duly did so, although a week early (for obvious reasons!) over three days between November 9–11.
Our theme was Past, Present and Future, so we began on the Friday evening with a celebration of the past, exploring over our dinner the history of the house back to its beginnings in 1893 and moving on to memories of its 33 years as a community since 1979, accompanied by music and photographs.
On the Saturday we invited people to join in with community activities in the garden/kitchen/house, followed by lunch. In the afternoon we created a Medicine Wheel and fire ceremony to help us connect to nature and ourselves in order to release the past and manifest the future that we want. In the evening we headed off to The Park to join in the grand sharing in the Universal Hall.
On the Sunday we enjoyed a delicious brunch, followed by a nature walk with skilled tracker and local expert Dan Puplett. In the afternoon we had an opportunity to hear about our future plans and projects, followed by a buffet dinner and, to round off our celebrations in the evening, a party and ceilidh.
So what has the Newbold Trust done over these 33 years? For a start it has kept and often improved the condition of a beautiful and historic building full of wonderful materials and superb workmanship and maintained and developed a large and beautiful garden which brings joy and delicious nourishment to hundreds of people each year. These achievements should not be underestimated as many hundreds of big country houses have been lost in Britain in these decades, no longer finding a living contemporary purpose. But of course the key achievement has been what has been held and nurtured in the lives of people, both those who have held the space as members and the much greater number of people who have visited.
Living here has not always been easy. Exploring the history of the community I have quickly found people bruised by their encounter with the intensity of small community life. Conflict is an inevitable part of living closely together and our hope can only be that we become steadily more skilled and more loving in our ability to work through conflict. It has been really saddening to realise that this has not always been the case and some people still feel wounded from their experience here. I’m glad to say that some of these people have revisited Newbold in the last few years and have felt able to release and heal those hurts. We are committed to supporting this work where we can.
On the other hand it is one of the great pleasures of being involved with Newbold House to hear people speak of the positive life-changing experiences they have enjoyed over this span of more than three decades. Sometimes these have been hard-won steps forward but often they have come through the sheer delight of being held in such a beautiful space by dedicated and loving people.
And these are the strengths we are building on now, working to make Newbold House a place where nature and nurture are to be found in abundance; caring for the beauty and diversity of our amazing environment; bringing more comfort and beauty to the house; and above all building a team of people able to nurture our guests whatever they have come to learn with us.
So what does this look like in practice, what will we be doing differently? For a start we will continue to host a variety of workshops. It’s clear from the wonderful feedback we receive that Newbold House and its community can provide a very special context for all sorts of workshops. But we will also be exploring many new or re-developed ideas. For example:
- Individual retreats with a variety of nurturing and therapeutic options
- Practical nature conservation holidays with our partners Wild at Heart
- A variety of different ways to experience and learn from community life
- Mini courses in different skills for sustainable living which can be taken separately or grouped to create bespoke learning opportunities, such as specific vegetable and wildlife gardening skills, hen keeping, cooking, preserving and bread-baking
- Wedding, birthday and funeral celebrations
- Cultural events including concerts and art exhibitions
As we look forward to 2013, with two years of experience during which we have built our group and developed a reputation for creating a joyful atmosphere, we embrace the challenge of responding quickly to meet the holistic educational and nurturing needs of all sorts of people. What is it that you need as an educator or as a learner? Can we be of service? We are listening.