Wednesday, 19 September 2012

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Serenna Davies

SERENNA Davies was born and raised in South Dorset before training as a nurse in Oxfordshire where she lived for nearly 30 years. After a spell in London she moved back to Dorset five years ago where she became involved with the Love Learning classes in Bridport. The 57-year-old now works for charities supporting bereaved families and vulnerable young people as well as offering a counselling service from her home near Winterbourne Steepleton. The mother of two grown-up daughters is about to launch a series of Bridport-based workshops focusing on life skills.

WHAT made you start this type of workshop?
I felt it would be a good idea to offer workshops for the community on issues that most of us find challenging and where there is not a lot of support. I have been learning Italian through Love Learning at the Olive Tree restaurant for a year now and have been very impressed with the teaching and what they offer.

WHO can benefit?
Parents wanting to learn more about parenting. Children of all ages (including teenagers) wanting help with specific issues or wanting support with these challenging years. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved-one and wants to meet people in the same situation and gain support and information on the grieving process. Anyone who has been struggling to lose weight and would like help with confidence and self-esteem issues while discussing why we comfort-eat and can’t say no to some foods.  Anyone who has recently retired and is finding it quite hard and is maybe feeling quite lonely. Anyone who is struggling with their work/life balance. Most people know things have to change but they can’t see how.

WHAT can people expect from one of your workshops?
The workshops will be relaxed and supportive. They will be interactive and we will work in pairs and groups. Participants will learn more about the subject being offered and they will get some ideas to help deal with the issues that they have come to discuss. The two-hour sessions will include a short break for drinks and home-made cookies. 

IS life more complicated today compared to days gone by?
I don’t think life is more complicated, it’s just different. I think we are all more open to accept that life changes and experiences are extremely challenging and most of us have not had the training to deal with them. We are more likely now to seek out a counsellor or therapist and accept advice and support. We also are more open to trying to get our needs met and not live our lives in sacrifice. Many men are resistant, but I find that they find sessions extremely helpful and start looking at things in a different way.

ARE there experiences that have changed the way you approach life?
I have experienced divorce and the death of family members and close friends. I have started a new life in London and now back in Dorset. The experiences have made me stronger, more positive and have made me feel very grateful for the life that I have. I now live in the moment and enjoy life to the full.

SPORTS psychologists have been in the news during the Olympic Games. Can counselling really improve sporting performance?
Counselling can definitely help performance. Most of us believe that we are not good enough, do not have what it takes to succeed. Working on our blocks can help enormously. Psychology of Vision worked with one of the crews on the Round the World Yacht Race. They ended up being the only crew that stayed together throughout the race and they did really well too.

WHAT made you start learning Italian?
I love Italy and have been to Tuscany, Bologna, Venice and Sicily. Languages don’t come easily to me but I have persevered, helped by great teaching at Love Learning in Dorset.  I  think it is important to make the effort when we go to other countries. We Brits assume that everyone can speak English.

YOU come from a family with some history in Weymouth. Is family history something that interests you?
My family has Weymouth’s oldest established business - I.J. Brown and Sons - which opened in 1882. My family produced the first qualified optician in the West Country and my father was the first to fit contact lenses in Dorset. It is believed that my ancestor Sir John Brown traded in silk and was an admiral in Elizabethan times at the time of the Armada. I like history generally. Recently I have been learning more about the lost village at Tyneham, where the families were evacuated during the war and were never allowed to return. It is a very sad story and seems very unfair. The MOD still own and use the land.

IF you could run a workshop attended by anyone living or dead, who would be in it?
Judi Dench, Rowan Atkinson, Julie Waters and Michael McIntyre. It would be hilarious. We would spend most of the time laughing.

WHAT three new skills would you bring to a desert island?
Fishing, lighting fires and being alone.

Serenna is running a series of workshops as part of Love Learning at the Olive Tree restaurant, East Street, Bridport, starting September 26th. They cost £10 for each two-hour session. For more information visit

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