Our Columnist Dr Maurice Duffy on Helping Others Improve their Mental Health
Living North columnist Dr Maurice Duffy shares a very special connection with the late Lisa Shaw’s Little ’Uns charity and how he is hoping to help raise funds through a special Shamrock Ball
You have been writing for Living North for a while now, offering insights and advice about mindset and mental health. Tell us a bit more about what it is that you do in your everyday working life.
Some people call me their coach, others call me a strategist, some others a life coach. My primary responsibility day-to-day is working with people and helping them perform better in their life and their careers. My day-to-day work is this but I am probably best known for the work I do with performers, in helping people in cricket, rugby, and football perform at the highest possible level.
What is your mantra? The one rule you live by when it comes to nurturing your own mindset?
‘If you do not consciously adopt a mindset, one is subconsciously adopted for you,’ and, ‘do not let people with dirty boots march through your brain’.
I spent most of my career being ambitious and wanting to be successful. I succeeded in my work ambitions but perhaps I was not as successful as a human being. As I got more into coaching over the last 20 years, the process has helped me as well to perform better and be a better human being and a better person. One of the mantras that I hold dearest is ‘it is in giving that we receive’ and I am hugely grateful for the opportunity of working with great people and adding a little bit extra to their lives.
What would you say the highlights of your career have been?
There are a few. Working with Peter Vidmar who is the first guy in history to get a perfect 10 on the pommel horse, and working with Steve Smith as he led the Australian cricket team in two Ashes wins over England. Also working through the pandemic on a pro bono basis with individuals who were struggling, to help them navigate the pandemic and improve their lives, and working with BBC Radio on a weekly basis as a motivator and mindset coach.
Mindset and mental health were huge topics during Covid and the restrictions of lockdown. How did that time affect you personally? As an expert in this field, what did you do to manage your mindset and your mental health?
The arrival of the pandemic had a huge impact on my business because my business is truly global, so I was significantly restricted in the work that I could do and the individuals I could connect with. During the pandemic I did a lot of pro bono work with individuals that were struggling, and I worked on myself, my business, my health and my personal relationships. I found lockdown a great opportunity to spend quality time with my immediate family. As someone who travels a lot, it has allowed us to cherish that time together. I particularly enjoyed working with my 12-year-old son and producing some podcasts together.
Working with Lisa Shaw during the pandemic was not only a highlight of my career but also something that helped me stay focused and positive. Lisa very sadly passed away during that time and I am now looking to run a fundraising event on behalf of the charity that was set up in her memory.
I had formed a very special bond and relationship with Lisa. I really enjoyed the opportunity of working with her, trying to make a difference during the pandemic, helping people with finding motivation and dealing with the impact lockdown was having on their mental health. The particular tragedy with Lisa’s death is that, at the time, we were promoting the vaccine and in actuality she died as a result of the vaccine. So, it is quite poignant and sad. Hopefully with the Shamrock Ball, we are adding a little more to her amazing legacy while honouring her memory.
Tell us more about The Shamrock Ball – how did you come up with the idea and why is this important to you?
Well, it’s very difficult to deny that I am Irish, and I am very Irish. I live in the North East and miss many things about the Emerald Isle. St Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate being Irish, being part-Irish or being Irish in the North East, or simply celebrating ‘a-la-Irish’.
Then I first moved here I looked to make connections with Irish people across the North East and the Shamrock Ball became a good opportunity to bring people together, dance and make merry, while raising funds for a worthy cause. Over the years we have raised thousands of pounds for various charities but it was a no brainer for us to choose to support Lisa Shaw’s Little ‘Uns this year. But not just because of the personal connection. I genuinely feel the work they do is very important, nurturing the minds and wellbeing of young people whose lives have been affected by one of the biggest tragedies a child can face in losing a parent.
Lisa sadly passed away in May 2021, aged just 44. She was a loving wife and mum, daughter, sister, aunty, friend and colleague. Her family meant everything to her, and her little boy is blessed with unflinching love and support as he comes to terms with life without his beautiful mum.
Lisa Shaw’s Little ’Uns aims to raise money to fund holidays, activities and creative outlets for children who have lost a parent but do not have the financial means to pay for them and at the Shamrock Ball we aim to raise as much money as possible throughout the evening through a combination of fun activities, including a live auction featuring prizes that money can’t buy.
What can we expect from the event?
Fun, entertainment, a lively atmosphere, dancing, the opportunity to meet good people, an opportunity to contribute to a very good cause, the opportunity to be a little daft, to get dressed up and make merry.
There are a number of people joining us who work or have worked at the BBC, and who worked with myself and Lisa. Alfie Joey, for example, was on the show before our slot and he has very kindly donated his time to compere the event. He is a very funny man and I am sure he will do a fantastic job. There’ll be Irish Dancing led by former lead dancer from Lord of the Dance, Chris Hannon, music from The Belta Reivers, the upbeat Geordie folk trio bringing you great sing-a-longs, stomping instrumentals and plenty of fun and The Folk Soul Bros, the hugely popular Mumford-style Indie Band based in the North East of England.