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taking the bevan principles beyond health-care


Recently I spent the day with these legends of men at an event for the Bevan Commission.

Now you might think this post is just an excuse to share the photograph! But it really isn’t.

Rugby icon Gareth Edwards and the one-and-only Max Boyce were putting their ‘legendaryness’ (new word?) behind The Prudent Approach – specifically in terms of health care.

They were helping us focus on the four Bevan Principles of:

1. Achieving health and well-being with the public, patients and professionals as equal partners through co-production.

2. Caring for those with the greatest need first, making the most effective use of skills and resources.

3. Doing only what is needed and doing no harm – no more, no less.

4. Reducing inappropriate variation using evidence-based practices consistently and transparently.

Now. I think these principles – in essence – can apply across all our public services, and not just health.

together in wrexham

One of the key themes behind these principles is the idea of enabling people and communities to be more self-reliant. In our own small way, we’re already doing this in Wrexham.

Last year I wrote about something called Together in Wrexham – a drive to encourage more individuals, communities and groups to come together to make a difference.

We’re helping residents willing to volunteer some time, knowledge or resources link-up with like-minded people to make things happen.

We’re also offering financial help through grants and loans.

Recent examples include The Gwerin y Coed Forest Group.

The group used a grant of £5,000 to expand its team of volunteers, who run weekly outdoor sessions for families of children with ADHD or autism.

The drug and alcohol support agency CAIS was also given a grant of £5,000 to support clean-up days.

Volunteers work with community councils to identify areas that need a bit of ‘TLC’, carrying out litter-picks, weeding, painting and other work.

And the Vic Studios – a social enterprise which provides recording and rehearsal space for young performers – was also given £4,995 to help it grow.

Did it make a difference?

Mike Corcoran, a volunteer at the studio, says: “At the point of applying for Together in Wrexham funding, Vic Studios was just opening its doors as a newly formed, independent social enterprise.

“The funds were essential to support our organisational development, growth and the re-launch of the studios, having previously been operated as a local authority service until 2015.

“Since then, we’ve seen our young beneficiaries perform to huge crowds in Wrexham town centre as part of the Focus Wales music festival, provided specialist support to over 130 individuals with a variety of complex needs, and welcomed almost 1,000 people back into Vic Studios to record, rehearse and get creative.”

Yes. I think it did.

We have lots of other examples of Together in Wrexham helping people and communities become more self-reliant.

We’re not changing the world, but we’re putting some of the Bevan Principles into practice – across many walks of life.

It feels like we’re starting to help people and communities take ownership of the things they want to own.

That’s a good thing.

To find out more, visit the Together in Wrexham website.

I don’t often write a blog about individual people. I mainly write about events, leadership and organisational topics.

But today, I’m inspired to write about an inspiring man.

I had the privilege to attend his funeral recently in the village where I live in Wrexham.

I write ‘privilege’ because that’s what it was to have known him over the past five years – and to share in the celebration of his life with other friends and his family.

Three words summed this man up – ’family’, ‘giving’ and ‘community.’

And listening to his family’s eulogies, it’s clear these words summed him up throughout his life – from his early years through to his business escapades and his building projects, and latterly his commitment to our church and the fundraising for its much-needed roof repairs.

These three words shone out in everything that people said about him. Both throughout the service, and through conversations later in the day – as we took time to reflect on his life and how we had known him.

I recall the very first time I met him when I went to the church, having recently moved to the area. He said: “Hello…you are most welcome.” And he meant it.

And that was how he was. Friendly, supportive and always ready to use his skills and talents to help others.

It made me think, as I sat reflecting during the service, what three words would people say about me?

How would my contributions to my family, work and community be remembered? Would they be so clear ?

So my challenge to myself – and to you – is how will we be remembered?

And through this blog, I can recognise and thank this inspiring man who gave – and continues to give through his legacies – so much. And who will always be remembered so fondly.

A friend of mine recently asked how I’d spend a long weekend in Wrexham if I was a visitor. Three things sprang to mind.

Sugar and ox blood. A hand on top of a gate. And an ancient king. I should explain.

I’ve lived in Wrexham County Borough for five years and I genuinely love it.

It’s partly because I’m spoilt for things to see and do. And because I live here, I don’t have to pick and choose – I can do them all.

But if I were a visitor, with just a few days to spare, these are the things that would top my to-do list…

1. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site

The aqueduct is the centre-piece of our World Heritage Site and was completed in 1805.

The steel trough that sits on top of the stone pillars, and carries 1.5 million litres of water across the Dee Valley, was sealed with a substance that included ox blood and sugar. I kid you not (it was built over 200 years ago).

You can cross the aqueduct on foot, or by boat. Or even kayak if you feel adventurous. Either way, it’s a must see.

2. Erddig and Chirk Castle

We’ve got two National Trust properties in Wrexham County Borough – Erddig and Chirk Castle.

You expect a great experience at any National Trust property, but these two really are brilliant. Erddig is a proper upstairs-downstairs historic house where the lives of the servants were as interesting as the owners’ (a bit like Downton Abbey).

Chirk Castle is a Marcher fortress dating from 1310. There’s an interesting tale about the red hand that sits near the top of the iron gates at the exit to the estate – involving a race between two youths that ends with one of them cutting a limb off. Oh dear.

I think (!) it’s just a story.

3. Offa’s Dyke

There are so many great places to walk in Wrexham – including a section of the famous Offa’s Dyke.

Based on earthworks built by King Offa of Mercia in the eighth century, this trail follows the English/Welsh border for 177 miles. The section that passes through Wrexham includes Pontcysyllte.

Get your boots on and give it a go.

Other things on my list – time permitting – would include some 4×4 off-roading with Motor Safari. A visit to Wrexham County Borough Museum. A look around the lovely St Giles Church.

And a walk across Chirk Aqueduct (also part of our World Heritage Site, and just as breath-taking as Pontcysyllte).

And if I was spending more than a long weekend here, Wrexham is a great base to explore further afield.

I’d visit the historic city of Chester – just 10 miles down the road.

And the riverside town of Llangollen – with its steam railway, horse-drawn boat trips and heritage sites.

You can even reach a beach in less than 30 minutes by car (at Talacre). So some sandcastles would be in order too.

These are just the things I would do.

But we’re all different, and exploring Wrexham offers something for everyone. Adventure for all, in other words.

return on investment

Of course, a great tourism offer needs nurturing.

Since 2013, our tourism team – part of the Destination Wrexham partnership – has spearheaded lots of new initiatives.

Local produce features on menus across the county, thanks to a series of fun (and headline-grabbing) food challenges – giving rise to dishes like the ‘leek cupcake’ and the ‘ultimate Wrexham lamb burger.’

Maybe you’ve heard about the Wrexham sheep? Twenty three colourful sculptures – designed by local schools – installed across the county as part of a new art trail.

Or cornerstone events like Underneath the Arches at Pontcysyllte – a massively popular music and fireworks concert.

The fact is, we get a good return on investment.

Tourism is playing a big part in our economy, contributing over £100m a year and supporting 1,600 full-time jobs.

A lot of this is down to local tourism businesses, and our annual tourism awards celebrate the commitment and quality offered by everyone taking part in our tourism ambassador scheme.

Glyndwr University has also worked with us to launch its first ever Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management Degree.

It offers students a unique opportunity to build careers with local businesses and work alongside our tourism team to develop their skills.

There’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes to make Wrexham a brilliant visitor experience.

Have I convinced you to take the tour? I hope so. But if you need a little more persuasion, take a look at this video…

What matters to me, might not matter to you. That is the starting point for my thinking.

And the things you think are important might not matter a jot to someone else.

I suppose it is stating the obvious to say that we’re all different?

Public services have to think a lot about what really matters to people. I mean what really matters. Not what people value or need or want, but what matters to them.

I am not playing with words here. I am clear that these words…need / want / matter…mean different things to me.

I suppose the challenge is…without getting into a big debate about semantics…they probably mean different things to other people too.

But I’ve been thinking about what matters to me – personally – and there are four things that stand out.

My own ‘hierarchy of matters’ (not to rival Maslow’s!).

hierarchy of matters diagram


We’re social animals – so we spend a lot of time thinking about how we interact with other people.

We want people to behave positively towards us. And – for the most part (hopefully) – we want to behave positively towards them.

Kindness. Being supportive. Being considerate. Doing the right thing.

From a small interaction with a stranger on a train, to long-term interaction with a close friend or relative. I think how we behave towards other people really matters. Behaviour underpins everything.


After behaviour, for me, comes family.

I wrestled with this one…should family comes first? But I have put behaviour first as I believe it underpins family life.

We all belong to groups. Consumer groups. Age-groups. Economic groups. Biological groups.

Sometimes, it’s circumstance that brings us together – and not much else. But shared values – and the behaviour that shows those values – are often a huge factor. We want the people we’re closest too to value the same things we do. And vice-versa.

For me, sharing the same values as my family (including the way we behave towards each other and other people) is important. It’s part of what bonds us together.

positive contribution

I always want to make a positive contribution to the wider world. That’s important to me. And I hope it’s important to my family.

Doing something that feels meaningful – that feels like it will make a positive difference to the wider world – motivates me and drives me on. From supporting a charity to leading innovative activity at work.

I think making a positive contribution drives many folk. Doesn’t it?


At the top of my ‘what matters’ hierarchy is legacy.

It’s not just the sports-people, the politicians and the celebrities that think about legacy.

A lot of people do. Maybe most people do? I know I do.

Because our legacy is the imprint we leave behind after we’ve moved on. The things we did and the difference we made – both in our careers and our personal lives – still creating ripples long after we’ve left.

And maybe we’re all becoming more legacy-conscious because of the digital trail we leave behind via social media.

How much of our day-to-day life will we record for ‘legacy’ reasons in the future? Will we become more obsessed with documenting the things we do for future generations?


So there it is. Paterson’s hierarchy of what matters: behaviour > family > contribution > legacy.

But do these things matter to you? In a moment of casual thought, I might assume they do.

Which brings me back to the point of this article. We’re all different. Different things matter to different people.

So how can we – as professionals supporting and enabling the provision of services – really get to the bottom of what matters to our customers?

We consult. We engage. We involve customers in shaping services and  provision. But we often frame our conversations with customers around specific issues and questions. And we get framed or restricted feedback in return.

How often do we simply ask: “What really matters to you?”

Not very often.

How often do we apply our own personal hierarchy of what matters to our customers, and assume that what matters to us, matters to them?

More than we dare to admit…maybe?

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