Therapist Lisa volunteers to ease stresses and strains of life for lucky Independent reader Karen
A stressed Bishop's Stortford mum got a rare chance to relax as the winner of the first Bishop's Stortford Independent Massage of the Month – courtesy of compassionate therapist Lisa Rodmell.
Karen Goddard is normally rushed off her feet caring for Archie, 9, and Ethan, who is about to turn 7 and attends Richard Whittington Primary School at Thorley Park.
Karen, 41, explained: “Archie was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. Life for us is very different and can be very challenging at times.
"Archie sees the world differently and it's hard for him to make sense of his surroundings, particularly the people in it. This leads to anxiety on his part which can make many simple things difficult, like going to the park or the supermarket. Everyday things that people take for granted are often inaccessible to us.
“Having a hidden disability like autism can evoke quite negative reactions from people, who don't understand the condition and its complexities. We're limited to SEN (special educational needs) exclusive events, which are few and far between, particularly this side of the county. It can be very lonely when you're raising a child with additional needs.”
She was nominated for the massage by friend Lorraine Baker, who said: “She runs the local Facebook page to help other parents with children with special needs and helps with SPACE and PACT to raise money to help other families and children.
"She's a fountain of knowledge, but only because she's had to fight to get her children the help they need, so passes the info on to others so they don't have the same battle. She never stops and so deserves a bit of 'me time'.”
Karen and friend Anna Spicer run a monthly SPACE support meeting in the town for families with autistic children, at the Baptist Church in Twyford Road.
Karen said: “In addition to the support meetings, we're working to make leisure activities and entertainment venues in the town more accessible for autistic people, young and old. I'm in the process of working with the Little Arts Workshop, Thirst Youth Café, Stortford Gymnasium and Body Barre to name a few, who are keen to facilitate SEN sessions
“During the summer months, myself and another SEN mum, Kellie O'Dwyer, marshal the weekly SEN splash pool sessions in Castle Park, and I would love to see more activities like this available for our children.”
Karen, who lives in Benhooks Avenue with partner Mark, said: “I was honestly humbled to have been nominated for the massage and shocked to have actually won it!
"Lisa is lovely and really put me at ease, and the massage was great. My shoulders are permanently knotted through stress and she did amazing work on them. I've made a promise to myself that I will try to get back to see her as often as I can.
“There are so many people in Bishop's Stortford who do so much for the community, and I would encourage anyone to nominate someone. It's been a lovely experience.”
Lisa, 48, who is mum to Luke, 17, and Yasmin, 7, has lived in Stortford since she was six. Now married to Martin, a semi-retired fireman, she contacted the Indie to offer a monthly massage to a deserving individual as a tribute to her late mother, who developed Alzheimer’s when she was just 50.
Lisa said: “As a family, we went through some very dark times, as anyone who has supported a loved one with dementia will know only too well.
“Witnessing mum’s decline was horrendous, as well as the struggle and fight to get her the right care and support. The experience was unbelievably hard and it became so toxic to me, I fell ill.
“Thankfully, I sought help after Mum passed away, to turn things around for my mind and body. The support was amazing and I was able to relaunch my business in May 2018. I named it RMBLife in honour of Mum's memory – Rita Mary Byrne.
“I recently read a quote from Russell Brand that resonated, ‘When someone is gone, commemorate them, allow them to live on in the choices that you make, in the way you live lovingly’.
“I felt the key to a happier life was to keep positive and be grateful for all that I have and not focus on what I had lost. This quote perfectly summed up how I wanted to move forward. It inspired me to think about what Mum would do, how I could keep her spirit and work alive. She gave without acknowledgement and reward, she was very humble.
"I'm so glad that I was able to tell her that she was my hero. This led me to realise that I’d like to celebrate others that give to the community by thanking them. In a time where there is so much obsession with self, I want to celebrate community and help highlight how much Stortford still has a heart and there are some amazing people among us.”
She said of Karen: “She was a bundle of positivity, strength and courage. She inspired me with her attitude through adversity and fighting spirit. I hope that I was able to help in some small way by relaxing her mind and ease any aches and pains in her body to continue the good that she so obviously does.”
* To nominate someone for Lisa’s next massage, email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and contact details and why you think they deserve a relaxing treat.
To book a therapy session with Lisa or to find out more about her “fusion of contemporary and ancient spa philosophies with sports and clinical massage results”, see Lisa RMBLifemassage on Facebook.