Just before Christmas, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Karen Winston a qualified midwife and reflexologist. Karen also does massage and reiki (she’s a Reiki Master) but her passion is reflexology which she is offering at the Fox Hall Clinic on Saturday mornings between 8.30am and 1.00pm. Check out the Fox Hall Clinic here: https://bit.ly/2FEuZx3
Karen also offers reflexology in her home therapy room near Clevedon Pier and mobile visits to Clevedon, Portishead, Tickenham, and the surrounding areas. She is very keen to ensure that everyone can access her sessions regardless of their work patterns or responsibilities and to that end she offers twilight, evening and Saturday appointments.
Recently moved from Dorset, Karen has very fond memories of Clevedon where she spent her summer holidays with her Nan Edna Hoggett nee Coles who was one of eleven children.
Edna’s father Charles Coles was the engine driver on the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway. There are lots of stories about Charlie in books about the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway.
This picture shows Charles and his wife Laura, Karen’s great grandparents with Edna’s sisters Mar and Molly.
It was while talking to Jane Lilly, the celebrated Clevedon historian, about the blogpost and mentionning these Clevedon names that Jane told me the Hoggetts were her neighbours at six Parnell Road, she was related to the Coles family by marriage and that her great uncle Jack had married Rhoda Coles. What a small world!
Karen’s Aunty Chris started and ran the Valley Gateway Club for twenty years because at that time there was no support in Clevedon for adults with Additional Needs.
Jane also knew Karen’s Aunty Chris aka Christine Appleton that she descibed as being a lovley lady. Christine lived along the road from Jane’s childhood home in Griffin Road. Another of the sisters, Edith, was a dinner lady at Jane’s junior school and Mollie married the librarian at Clevedon.
When I featured Jane in Humans of Clevedon, I asked her what she loved about researching Clevedon’s history, she said:
‘Finding surprises, linking facts together and making connections……….’
Well, there were connections a plenty!
Karen has very clear memories of lovely, long afternoons playing on the beach, scrambling over the rocks and morning matinees at the Curzon.
She also clearly remembers spending her precious pocket money at the Clevedon Pottery which used to be on the site of the Teatro Lounge. Many thanks to Jane who gave me this photo showing the pottery; it dates back to 1986 when Great Western Road was on the verge of opening.
Although Karen was very sad to leave her regular clients at the Ringwood Health Clinic in Dorset, she was excited to be settling in the town which holds so many magical memories for her. Edna has now sadly passed away but Karen’s cousins Faye, Jessica and Clare Dunne are in Clevedon. It was Clare who used to offer the wonderful Pilates and Zumba classes at the Body Management Gym before it sadly closed in 2018. Clare now offers the same at Fox Hall Clinic.
Interestingly, it was one of Karen’s clients who got in touch with me and suggested she would be someone I might like to write about. I’m so glad she did because Karen has so much to offer and it must be so hard to set up your business again in a new area, albeit one you know and one where you have such strong ties and connections.
Karen is the mother to three children: Alex aged twenty-nine, Emily aged twenty-four and Lawrence aged twenty. Lawrence is currently at Bristol University reading Architecture and is delighted to have his Mum so close.
I loved listening to Karen’s story and how she came to be such an advocate for complementary therapies. For anyone not familiar with the term, complementary therapies, they are ones used alongside conventional medicine to relieve symptoms of common diseases and promote health and well-being. When a healthcare professional combines the use of conventional and complementary techniques to give expert and holistic care, they are adopting what is known as an integrative approach, one which is becoming more and more popular. Aside from reiki, reflexology and massage other examples are the Alexandra Technique, acupuncture, Tai Chi and yoga.
Having spent a number of years working in private medical insurance and bringing up her three children, Karen decided to go back to university in her thirties and qualified as a midwife with BSc Hons. She started her career as a community midwife, a wonderful job looking after women during pregnancy and labour, offering post-natal care and support to women, their babies, their partners and families; sharing some of the most important moments of their lives. A job which requires a holistic approach as the changes that occur with pregnancy and childbirth affect your whole life: your identity, your relationships, your values, and your beliefs. A job not without its challenges, long hours and most certainly, physically and emotionally draining.
To cope with the long hours and the stress Karen turned to reflexology which is a non-invasive complementary therapy that can be effective in promoting deep relaxation and wellbeing. It is a touch therapy, suitable for all ages, that is based on the theory that different reflexology points on the feet, correspond with various organs, muscles and ligaments in your body and reflexologists work these reflexology points and areas, looking at skin colour, tone and the temperature of the feet as a tool to check circulation, and any imbalance in the body.
Karen felt so strongly about the benefits of reflexology that in 2007, she decided to set up her own practise and started treating patients outside of her day job. Understandably, maintaining both these jobs was not feasible and after much soul searching she decided to leave the NHS and in 2010 started to work in private medical insurance again for another large corporate company, but as a clinical case manager where her midwifery and reflexology training proved invaluable. This was a life changing move for Karen – no more shifts, no more on call, no more juggling but lots more quality family time. She continued to provide reflexology and reiki for clients some evenings and Saturday mornings.
Karen is currently working as a Nurse Case Manager for a very well-known health insurance company based in Bristol. Her wealth of medical knowledge, her holistic approach to healthcare make her very suited to this role.
Her job is very collaborative and involves her in coordinating the various elements that are involved in the care of an individual patient, making sure that resources and services are used in the best way possible. Much of her work is supporting and building relationships with clients who are at their most vulnerable, often with very complex medical conditions such as cancer. Her experience of providing emotional support is something she frequently draws on as these illnesses engender such tremendous feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear and have such a devastating impact on the individual, their family and friends.
Karen is passionate about the benefits of reflexology which she explained is of great benefit to the whole body but is also a technique which enables her to concentrate on particular problem areas to relieve symptoms of illnesses such as fibromyalgia, back pain, stress, insomnia, women’s health conditions, IBS, anxiety and joint pain.
She is also a specialist in lymphatic drainage reflexology, maternity, fertility and baby reflex. Her training for lymphatic drainage was undertaken personally by Sally Kay who is a multi-award winning reflexology practitioner, researcher, educator and author at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Karen had the chance to give and receive Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) which has had promising research results in a research study run together with the NHS, for clients suffering with lymphoedema. RLD is also showing promising results with auto-immune diseases, skin disorders such as psoriasis, fibromyalgia and may help relieve pain and swelling from oedema (fluid retention), discomfort following medical or cosmetic surgery and following cancer treatment.
Karen has also had considerable success with pregnancy reflexology. Using both her clinical and reflexology experience, she is happy to provide reflexology throughout pregnancy from conception to birth and after the birth. Beneficial in alleviating common pregnancy symptoms of morning sickness, backache, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and fluid retention in the ankles, reflexology promotes health and wellbeing and can aid your body in preparation for birth. It’s especially useful if you are overdue and want to try to avoid clinical induction. (from 37 weeks onwards).
If you are planning to start a family or have been trying for over a year and are experiencing fertility issues of unknown clinical cause, Karen can offer reflexology treatment. This reflexology treatment concentrates on the reflex points to aid fertility and boost general health and wellbeing.
There is increasing evidence and research that reflexology may aid fertility. Reflexology can also be used alongside assisted conception such as IVF. Often couples become stressed and frustrated, and reflexology helps with any accompanying stress and anxiety and encourages hormonal balance.
“I contacted Karen after several months of trying for a baby with no luck. As soon as I called I felt like I was taking a step in the right direction. I explained my situation and she was so reassuring. Karen suggested an initial session to see how we got on before I committed to a course of treatments.
Karen was so welcoming and immediately put me at ease. I fell pregnant after just two sessions and continued with reflexology throughout my pregnancy as I found it so relaxing and beneficial to my general wellbeing. As Karen used to be a midwife she would also put my mind at rest with regard to the labour and offer great advice.
My baby boy arrived on his due date and I had a quick and straightforward labour. I am a huge believer in the benefits that reflexology can bring and would definitely recommend Karen to anyone considering this alternative therapy.“
With her clinical background and experience, Karen has helped many couples over the years.
I had already heard of the lymphatic drainage and pregnancy reflexology before I met Karen but the fertility reflexology and the final one I’m going to describe to you, that of Baby Reflex were completely new to me.
Karen explained that Baby Reflex is a gentle bonding experience for young babies and children and was created to assist parents with the wellbeing of their child and to strengthen the loving bond between them. Suitable from four weeks old (some parents prefer to wait until after the six week check), the parents, carers or grandparent are taught a series of specially adapted reflexology techniques which can be used anywhere, on a fully clothed baby to help ease and relieve common ailments and promote calm and relaxation as well as improving sleep patterns. It is a safe, drug free and non-invasive natural therapy.
This made a lot of sense because when a baby cries or experiences some level of discomfort, it’s the most natural thing in the world to rub their hands, feet, and tummy.
While Karen would never suggest that reflexology should take the place of an expert medical opinion, she’s a great advocate for reflexology as an addition to baby’s routine and is confident that it will teach carers how to ease a range of classic baby discomforts such as colic, wind, reflux, tummy upsets and constipation, teething pains, ear congestion as well as boosting the baby’s immune system and helping to calm and soothe the baby.
Having talked to Karen, I came away with the impression of a highly skilled, very professional reflexologist who loves her work, loves helping and meeting new clients, and cares deeply about all aspects of their health and well-being.
Karen is fully insured and is a member of the Complementary Therapies Association, the CNHC who is the independent UK regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners. The CNHC was set up with government support to protect the public by providing a UK voluntary register of health practitioners. CNHC’s register has been approved as an Accredited Register by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, a body accountable to Parliament.
If you’d like to know more about Karen, check out her website here: https://www.karenwinstonreflexology.co.uk/