Celebrating Lisa’s 80th

Flowers and cards

Lisa’s birthday was warm with some sun and started with opening all the cards visible above.

At noon the Zoom event organised by Neil Robinson in Stafford commenced with 20+ of Lisa’s mediation friends and colleagues taking part. This was full of warmth and greetings as will be evident from the audio recordings below

Part 1
Part 2
The Zoom screen showing some of the group

After that excitement and pleasure we had a quiet time until tea time when we had a virtual party and cakes with candles using Zoom including both Epsom and Crouch End families

4th Edition of Lisa’s Family Mediation book

This went to press on April 1st (it really did!) with a particularly noteworthy and generous preface by Gwynne Davies, lawyer and mediator in central London.

Dedicated to Mediators Everywhere”


Lisa Parkinson Family Mediation 4th Edition

S.T. Coleridge described poetry as “the best words in the best order”. The same description can be applied to Lisa Parkinson’s “Family Mediation”. It’s the standard textbook for the vast majority of foundation courses, and where it isn’t, it still appears at the top of the reading list; the section with the asterisk marked “essential reading”.

It’s not hard to see why. This is a magnum opus: part textbook, part reference book, part manual that covers the past, present and future of mediation, its philosophy and its politics as well as the theory and practice. The research is meticulous, and the breadth of Lisa’s knowledge is awesome. It is a Leviathan written by the Doyenne of Family Mediation and is relevant to lawyers, judges, CAFCASS officers and policymakers as well as trainee mediators, practising mediators (both new and experienced) and Professional Practice Consultants.

I cut my teeth on the first edition published back in 1997. It spoke to me with clarity and compassion. It was my bible, my handbook and my co-worker. I knew its pages intimately and years later I dip into it on a regular basis to find reassurance and inspiration.

Lisa’s original format is repeated in this 4th edition. Each chapter is organised into manageable subsections that seamlessly mix research, theory and practice and turn the ethereal and abstruse into the tangible and accessible. As you would expect, the 4th edition has been updated to reflect changes in legislation, developments in the profession, and most importantly the progress that has been made in child inclusive mediation, which is dealt with comprehensively in a completely revised Chapter. The updated Appendices provide a plethora of information and resources that would be worth publishing in their own right!

There is a genius to Lisa’s writing that blurs the edges between report and rapport. There are, as you would expect, frequent references to current research and statistics, but this is not a dry book; it is peppered with lively examples, anecdotes and poems. Enjoy the story about the President of Ethiopia receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and the startling wisdom of 13-year-old Tara’s observation; “Families are for helping each other through life.” My absolute favourite is in Chapter 8 where James, age 7, is talking to the mediator about how he is trying to cope with his parents’ separation:

Well, Gary says the thing to do is to tell your parents jokes, to stop them arguing. I tried that…I tried to tell my Mum and Dad a joke about a monkey, but they didn’t listen. They went on arguing. Anyway, I hadn’t finished making up the joke.”

This resonates so much because it encapsulates how I feel mediating most of the time; I’m trying to do a positive reframe but they’re talking over me….and anyway I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. More importantly it captures the power of the voice of the child, while exposing the inherent complexity involved in listening to that voice.

Lisa’s obvious love of mediation and mediators, which permeates the book, shouts from every page. There is also a kindness, respect and affection for those who are not mediators, but who choose to trust us and participate in the mediation process. This book is crammed full of the “total positive regard” that counsellors consider a prerequisite for a good working relationship and is one of the hallmarks of a consummate practitioner as well as a majestic academic

I mentioned that there were poems in the book. Two that stand out for me are “On Children” in Chapter 8, and “Rachel’s poem” in Chapter 7 (which was adopted by many of my colleagues who used it to great effect in the Separated Parents Information Programme). But the book itself has its own poetry. Lisa is a naturally gifted communicator. Many academic writers seem to labour under a misapprehension that there is a world shortage of full stops; Lisa knows when to end a sentence so that we can take a breath and absorb the information. As I said at the beginning of this foreword: the best words in the best order. A Haiku keeps coming into my head. No doubt, to all Haiku aficionados out there, it will rank, as does Glossop according to Jeeves, “very low down among the wines and spirits”, but I’m blaming Lisa for inspiring me:

“For Mediators

Working to help Families

Everywhere, always”

When I was a trainee, Lisa Parkinson’s book was THE text, the precious, the one book to bind us. It affirms the common humanity of clients and their families, as well as the mediators and other professionals helping them through the miserable journey of separation and trying to make it less miserable. It has already earned its place as the standard text for trainee mediators of the past, and I have no doubt that this edition will follow in the footsteps of its predecessors to become the mediation bible for future generations.

Diana’s MBE

On the 29th December 2018 the London Gazette published a statement that H M the Queen was graciously please to give an order to appoint Diana as MBE in the most excellent Order of the British Empire.

The award was recognition of Diana’s achievement in founding and hard work in chairing the charity Birth Companions. Initially the charity concentrated on providing support to pregnant prisoners in Holloway Prison. Accompanying and reassuring these women to hospital for the birth when they had no other support was an important feature of this work.

In 2019 Holloway was sold to provide 1000 homes and now Birth Companions provides support for three or four prisons. Additionally the charity now helps women in difficulties in the wider community.

Press cutting following the formal presentation in Buckingham Palace which was made by Prince Charles.
Diana being interviewed by LBC Radio

Celebrating Tim’s 80 years – Part One

How Tim’s Family and Friends helped him celebrate his 80 years – Part One

I have sailed and raced my boat, Avocet, over a period of 43 years so when Diana and I were participating in our 21st National Championship week together at Poole just prior to my actual birthday it seemed a nice idea to go out to dine at a local pub, The Yachtsman, together with Katharine and her brother Stephen. It was a nice coincidence when my friends from Thornbury Sailing Club happened to be in the bar. However, in a pattern which is not unique in these recollections, several more sailors from our week appeared in the garden where we were seated and by the time several tables had been pulled in to form one long gallery table the penny finally dropped! Diana had put the word around about my imminent anniversary.

As you can see we were blessed with a fine evening and plenty of space.

No, it’s not the cups that Peter is indicating!

On the last evening of the Championship Week all the competitors donned their smartest for the dinner and prize giving. Once there at the start of proceedings Peter Hewitt summoned me to the front and after a few kind words about my long dayboat years and age he indicated the fine collection of bottles of wine that he proceeded to present to an astonished recipient. In responding to this generosity I was able to pay tribute to Lisa for supporting me in all the years that I have sailed in Dayboat Week – including one when she bravely crewed for me at Burnham Week- and especially for looking after Louis and Ella when they were small so that, to Lisa’s immense relief, Diana could crew for me instead . I also paid heartfelt tribute to Diana who has sailed with me for 21 of my 35 dayboat weeks. And I can’t recall one cross word!

After the dinner Tim and Diana motored back to Henbury to join Lisa, who had clearly spent half the week cooking and preparing dishes to feed the all 11 of the family for two evenings. On Saturday Tim drove with Lisa and Diana and the boot full of food to Wantsley Farm just north of Beaminster in West Dorset arriving in time to establish who was going to sleep in which room. Jonathan, Luiza, Lucas and Anita were the next to arrive closely followed by Jean-Marie, Louis and Ella. Louis’ partner, Katia joined us on Sunday. In getting to know how to benefit from the AGA Tim learnt the hard way that AGA saucepans do not have an insulated handle. Lisa’s curries were delicious.

Sunday, the actual day, started fine and we hastened to let six chickens, five ducks and Sebastian, a female goose, out of their respective abodes. Sebastian and ducks rushed into the stream pool as if their lives depended on it.

After breakfast while Tim opened his cards Lucas and Anita tried out the zip wire which terminated in a seemingly horrific hard tree trunk. But didn’t!

Lunch on the Wantsley terrace

Lunch was taken on the sunny terrace and suitably fortified we set off to Tim’s choice of expedition which was the Eggardon Hill with its incredibly large Iron Age fort.

Eggardon Hill

The family were not visibly in awe!

Monday, 20th August, was the day Lisa had arranged with six Stobart cousins for a gathering at the Three Horseshoes Inn at Powerstock.

The Family Lunch

Despite the existence of another pub with the same name not far away and Powerstock being really remote we were joined by Alan & Claire Glass, Eric & Ginny Stobart, Diane Stobart and Gillian Huxley. We had a long table on the terrace with fine views.

Chesil BankWest Bay

Tuesday dawned fine and sunny and we set off to explore the Chesil Bank, that extraordinary 16 mile long feature which runs from West Bay near Bridport to Portland Bill. It is made up of sand then pebbles, which increase in size the nearer you get to Portland Bill. The mechanism which achieves this is still unclear especially as, according to Lisa’s reading of “Pebbles on the Beach”, the underwater bank shows exactly the opposite size transition. We drove to the West end of the bank and noted its sand composition and this was the view. A few toes were dipped in the water but none of our party looked like swimming so we moved East along the coast until we found a picnic spot on the cliff edge near Burton Bradstock.

Chesil Bank, Burton Bradstock

Looking East from Burton Bradstock cliff edge

Chesil Bank, Burton Bradstock

Looking West to West Bay breakwater and beyond




The final visit to the Bank was on the beach itself at Abbotsbury where Lisa and Tim explored the hinterland in the direction of the Fleet (lake behind the Bank) while others relaxed on the pebbly bank.

Ella resting

Chesil Bank, Abbotsbury








On Wednesday the target was walk to the New Inn at the nearest village, Stoke Abbott. This entailed a fine walk up the hill the other side of the Wantsley valley, through woods and down an ancient track to the village for a pub lunch in the garden of the New Inn.


After lunch the more energetic walkers set their sites on the highest local hill while the others returned to Wantsley for relaxation.

On the hilltop


One of the ‘scalloped’ hillsides


By Thursday morning our numbers were reduced to Jonathan, Luiza, Lucas, Anita, Diana, Tim and Lisa. We drove to Minterne Parva to walk the Cerne Abbas Giant walk in our guide book. Unfortunately the initial instructions were out of date and we only got onto the correct path thanks to a kindly landowner. Once on the path it was a pleasant walk up through woods and down across fields until we eventually viewed the Giant. Perhaps he is now a little bashful because as you can see he is hiding his face and upper body behind grass!


After reaching Cerne Abbas we chose The Royal Oak for a well earned lunch. In the afternoon Jonathan and family set off to return to Epsom with Diana leaving Tim and Lisa to explore the ancient chapel at Toller Fratrum before returning to Wantsley for their last night before returning to Bristol on Friday.

12th C Font

11th C carving of Mary Magdalene

Toller Fratrum Chapel

Training Turkish mediators

The Council of Europe invited Lisa to give 3 days of training for mediation trainers in Turkey in November 2017. She had taken part in a preparatory seminar in 2016. She had a large group of over 30 senior judges, university professors and mediators. It was intensive training but she said they were very responsive and lovely to work with. The Turkish Ministry of Justice has published a Turkish edition of her mediation book and they presented her with a magnificent clock, inscribed to her with their logo. It is now on the mantelpiece of the large sitting room in The Old House!

The Lord Mayor’s Medal

Much to Tim’s surprise he was nominated to receive a Lord Mayor’s medal. This medal was presented by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Clare Campion-Smith, to Tim (and 19 other people) on 16th March 2016 for the contribution he has made to the Henbury Community over the last 15 years. The ceremony took place in the Mansion House, Clifton.DSC_1342 DSC_1351 DSC_1347

Le Fourchat conquered again

Almost three years after Marie-Jo and Tim climbed this formidable peak and in doing so demonstrated that there was life after 70 it, Le Fourchat peak, has fallen to a further determined assault by Sophie and Vanessa on 5th August 2015.

Sophie in the sunset with Risou in the background

Vanessa in the sunset with L’Archier behind

Celebrating Lisa’s 75th Birthday


We were able to hire Mounts View on the Speke’s Manor estate in East Sussex where five years ago we rented The Oast House for Lisa’s  70th.

Lisa and Tim were able to arrive and settle in on Thursday, 2nd April before the Easter weekend. Jonathan and family joined us on Good Friday afternoon and Diana arrived in the early evening.

Around the table on Friday

Saturday was spent enjoying the facilities, a little tennis for example, around Speke’s manor and Diana collected Louis from Lewes train station in time for supper. A large jigsaw puzzle emabarked on early in our stay was already showing significant progress from the team of ‘workers’ employed:


On Easter Sunday, Lisa’s actual birthday, we drove over to Herstmonceaux Castle and enjoyed a walk around the gardens before a light lunch in the excellent cafe in front of the house.

Herstmonceaux Castle

75 and enjoying it

In the afternoon we moved up to the Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux and enjoyed several fascinating hours there including demonstrations of reflecting and refracting telescopes.

Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceaux

One of the attractions was a short talk on materials with lively demonstrations. Here is Lucas, Louis and Jonathan acting as unpaid assistants

So it was back to Mounts View, birthday cake and more challenging games


On the Monday Tim and Lisa were left to enjoy the surroundings on a fine sunny bank holiday:

They motored happily and gently home on Tuesday along the A272 with a lunchtime stop at Uppark House

Uppark House
Uppark House

Link to Mounts View album

Link to Herstmonceux Castle album

Three editions and counting!

The first edition of Lisa’s universally acclaimed book, Family Mediation on the whys, wherefores and how tos relating to family mediation was published in 1997

With the December 2014 publication of the 3rd edition Lisa’s book continues its place as the main work of reference for family mediators worldwide. The second edition with variations to suit the country in question has been published in seven languages.

This is what Nicholas Wilson, Lord Justice of Appeal, President of the Family Mediators Association said of the book

“all of us who work in the system need a comprehensive understanding of family mediation, the practice of which is far more complex and multi-faceted…we will need a vademecum. It will be Lisa Parkinson’s book”

This the flyer for the book Family Mediation 3rd Edition

Newsletter – Christmas 2013

Tim’s 75th birthday in August. Lisa arranged a weekend house-party without Tim suspecting it. He says it was “a lovely weekend celebration with family and friends. It included several surprise arrivals (our niece Sophie came from Paris and also our Dutch friends). Ten ParkinsonsThere were physical and mental challenges – a Treasure Hunt and an Adventure Trail, a lot of fun and good food”.

Sailing Success: Tim and Diana achieved a convincing win in the final race in the Yachting World Dayboat Championship in Torbay, in such strong winds that half the fleet stayed on land and only the youngsters started!

Birdwatching: we went on an exciting 2 week birdwatching trip to South East Brazil with Bird Holidays. Only 7 of us with an expert British guide and expert Brazilian ornithologist. We stayed in remote national parks with wonderful scenery in the Minas Gerais region, north-west of Rio de Janeiro. We saw 300 different species of birds from toucans to tiny humming-birds, and some mammals, including a 3-toed Sloth (asleep up a tree) and a Giant Anteater with a youngster that climbed on her back for a ride.

Croatian cruise: an idyllic week on a small ship gliding down the Croatian coast from Zadar to Dubrovnik, visiting Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the island of Korçula, catching an organ recital in the cathedral.Lisa on boat leaving Sibenik We lounged on deck in beautiful weather and transferred to traditional river boats to explore dramatic river gorges.

Kazakhstan: Lisa was invited to give 3 days of training in family mediation in Almaty, 100 km from the Chinese border The participants (over 30 in the group) were lovely. Some came from Kirghistan but they all spoke Russian and there was translation to and from Russian. Kazakhstan is as big as western Europe. It was extremely hot – outside temperature nearly 40 C. On her free day Lisa was taken by her colleague’s husband in 3 successive cable cars up to 2830m in the in the Tienshan Mountains that tower over Almaty, almost to glacier level.Mountains in Kazakstan - Lisa's photo from her trip in August Lisa has also had work trips this year to Copenhagen, Geneva and Italy – Milan, Rome, Florence, San Benedetto in Le Marche and south-east Sicily. Understanding Italian is reasonably OK, speaking is harder ….

Publications: Fifty years after Tim’s Cambridge Expedition to Russia and the Middle East, a fascinating account of the expedition, illustrated with maps and both colour and black and white photographs, was published in January – “The Kombi Trail”, by Robert Cox et al. On the day of publication, expedition members + partners enjoyed a private tour of both Houses of Parliament (one of the expedition members being a Lord) followed by a reunion lunch with reminiscences and then a book launch at Daunts Bookshop in Marylebone.

A 2nd edition of Lisa’s family mediation book has been published in Italian. Next year a 2nd edition is due to be published in Russian and 1st edition in Brazilian Portuguese!

Diana and her work partner have completed a number of very interesting evaluation projects this year, including an evaluation for the Ministry of Justice of a mentoring programme and trips to Albania and Lithuania to evaluate a programme to increase girls’ awareness of the risks of sex trafficking. They have recently won a contract to evaluate support services In the Coroner’s Court. Diana is greatly enjoying doing an M.Sc (one day a week for 2 years, with written assignments) in evaluative research methodology.

Jean-Marie (Diana’s husband)’s jazz group, Man Overboard, was invited to record their 1st CD. It’s called ‘All Hands on Deck’ and proved such a hit that they have already been asked to record another. They have played on the radio at least 4 times (BBC 3 music channel – 4:30 pm GMT programme In Tune on Friday 20th December) and at a number of concerts and at the Lord Mayor of London’s Charity Gala Dinner. Next year they have been invited to open the Arundel Festival. The band features jazz numbers from the 1930s and is very listen able!

Louis is now 22! He graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2.1 in pharmacology and after winning the British Universities Indoor Climbing Championship (Bouldering), he has been selected for the British team.

Ella is enjoying her 2nd year at Manchester, reading anthropology and sharing a house with friends. She got a 1st in her first year exams and says she doesn’t miss ballet at all.

Jonathan works for the International Water Association based in The Hague. He travels a great deal for consultancy and conferences – mainly Africa and Asia. Has run half marathons in aid of Water Aid.

Luiza, Jonathan’s wife, has been promoted to a Senior Lecturership in civil and environmental engineering at University College, London. She is also travelling more for conferences and research.

Lucas (nearly 10) and Anita (8) are both enjoying school and other activities. Lucas is learning to play the saxophone and Anita is very keen on the piano. She was a polar bear in a recent event at her school!

The year has brought great sadnesses, as well as much to treasure and celebrate. Our dear friend, Richard Shaw, died from a brain tumour after a short illness. He was Diana’s godfather. Another dear friend, Elspeth Malcolm in Scotland, died suddenly from a severe stroke. We have lost other friends as well, and a considerable number are widows or widowers or looking after a very frail and dependent partner. All this makes us extremely conscious of how precious our family and friends are to us, how fortunate we are to have them and – so far – to be active and in good health. So we are doing as much as possible while we still can.

Tim does a lot of work for our local community and for the national charity, Practical Action. He has helped to get a community garden started in a derelict kitchen garden in our local park. Lisa is Vice President of the Family Mediators Association, which she co-founded in 1988 with five London lawyers, and a member of the Family Justice Council Dispute Resolution Sub-committee.

We hope all this has not left you feeling either thoroughly bored or totally exhausted, or both!

If you would like to see a few photos of some of the highlights we’ve mentioned, click on this link http://tinyurl.com/q8jrqtd

(To see slide show with captions use the menu under the pulldown on the right of the page)

However, you can skip all our news as by far the most important purpose of this letter is to bring you our very, very best wishes for a peaceful new year, with good health and lavish helpings of unexpected, as well as expected, pleasures.

With love from

Tim and Lisa