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Mary Coakley-Burns

Please could you briefly introduce yourself and give an overview of your background

I was born and educated in Dublin, Ireland. I moved to the UK in the early 1980’s for work, having completed a BSc and MSc and one year working as biochemist in major city centre hospital laboratory. I worked at the Medical Research Council in Research then moved into Diagnostics (tests for disease, healthcare and drug abuse) in sales then Marketing. I went freelance after having two children and worked from home for a trade association and Diagnostic club (technology exchange) still in the field of medical healthcare. I decided to do a counselling training as part of my self-development and since then have been counselling mostly for a bereavement support charity.

What motivated you to pursue Grief counselling?

I had a lot of bereavements in my life, from an early age to adulthood including a younger sibling, two best friends and both parents. I joined Cruse Bereavement Care – a charity- in 2006 for a placement as part of counselling training and have worked with them ever since. I think it is wonderful to be able to support people at such a vulnerable time in their lives and I am very aware of how important that support can be.

Please could you tell us who or what has had the most significant influence on you in your life?

I feel there have been many people that have inspired me but not one that stands out. I think maybe it could be my now adult children as they have definitely had the most significant impact/influence on me!

How would you describe yourself?

Ordinary but with attitude

What motivates you?

Life and living as best you can.

If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose and why?

Neither of these would be a superpower I would particularly choose but I think flying would be great if I could take passengers and invisibility would be cool if I wanted to know secrets! The superpower I would like really to have would be to heal, either mentally or physically, ideally both.

What was the last gift you gave someone?

A selection of herbal teas to my friend and her husband, he is a cancer warrior/survivor who has just had another operation to remove a tumour. I wanted to show them, in a small way, that I supported them.

When we can travel again, what international destination would you most like to visit and why?

Australia, as my daughter is working there, I haven’t been seen her since Sept’19 and we had planned to visit her last April ’20 at the moment it looks like they will not open up again until 2022!

What was the last piece of art you purchased?

A watercolour for my house in Ireland by JH Flack. 

What work of art would you most like to own?

The Mona Lisa so she could smile at me very day!

Which person (alive or dead) would you most like to have dinner with and why?

I would rather have dinner with a live person and I would choose someone who I think I could really speak to on a personal level so maybe I would choose Kate Garraway or someone funny.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to make a living out of selling their art in 2021?

Let the situation inspire you, in this isolated time use your creativity to express yourself through your art. There are so many people who are unable to express themselves and your art could be their window into how they may feel or like to feel. Show your art to as many people as you can, you will never know how/where it will strike a chord and bring joy/sadness, memories/dreams to someone. The selling bit should be easier after that!

What key piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Stop stressing the small things and look at the bigger picture. Nothing is written in stone!

Tea or coffee?

Time and a place for both.

What is the most important thing to know about you?

I am honest and not always right so I am happy to change my mind.

Please tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.

I dreamt of being a Hollywood actress. Having not done anything about it I decided to give up that dream at 55yrs!

What are your aspirations for 2021?

To stay alive

Any final words…..

I think it’s the Covid effect, not to allow myself many aspirations for this year as we do not know what will be possible in the future. I really wanted to see more of the world when I retired and now it seems like I won’t be able to!

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