We first started distributing the OBOD course almost thirty years ago - in 1988. Over this time, the Order has grown to become a worldwide community of the most wonderful people - engaged in all sorts of positive and life-affirming projects. And this community numbers in the thousands - nineteen at last count!
One of the cornerstones of the course is the mentoring support that members are offered. Each language edition has its own autonomous mentoring team, and the English edition now has over fifty mentors around the world, all of whom have completed the Druid grade and who give of their time and experience voluntarily.
Initially Stephanie and I mentored students, but as the membership grew, Susan Henssler began coordinating a small team of mentors, which we called tutors back then. She handed over this role in 2000 to Susan Jones, who had been mentoring for several years. That was seventeen years ago - how time flies!
The membership grew, and in 2003 Susan was joined by a second co-ordinator. For the last two years this has been Steve Hounsome, based in Poole, England. By last year, a third member of the coordinating team was needed, and Mike Williams, based in mid-Wales, joined the team.
Susan has now decided to retire as Mentor Co-ordinator, and will ‘return to the backbenches’ - as she puts it - as an OBOD mentor. She will also offer supervision to help any mentor who wants to do so to deepen their practice.
The new Mentor Co-ordinator for the English course, as from Imbolc, is now Steve Hounsome, assisted by Mike Williams and we now have a new member of the co-ordinating team, Gayle Gray, who is based in Idaho, in northwest USA. All three are experienced Bardic and Ovate Mentors. Between them, they have thirty-five years of OBOD mentoring experience.
We are incredibly fortunate to have such a well-balanced, experienced and international team. And I can’t thank Susan enough for the work she has done over the last seventeen years. Her experience in the worlds of government and higher education, have meant that she has developed and evolved the mentoring programme into something we can all be truly proud of.
This she has done with compassion, efficiency and creative flair, and as a result she has assembled a fabulous team of mentors. What a fantastic and diverse group of people!
In my position, I have the privilegeof reading all the reviews of members who arrive at the end of the Druid grade course. It is so heart-warming to do this, and to hear how much the course has meant to so many people. I can often see how the OBOD mentors have influenced that experience, and I’m really grateful to Susan that the mentoring system has developed so well over these past seventeen years. And grateful too, that she is not leaving us altogether, but will continue to make a contribution to the work we are all so passionate about.
Thank you Susan and all our thanks too to Steve, Mike and Gayle!