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I'm Margaret Coles

Self Portait

Born in the mid 1940's to first generation English-speaking South Africans, my first interest, outside of playing and reading, was in the realm of medicine.

This interest gradually took form and I trained as a physiotherapist in South Africa at Cape Town University in the mid 60's. In those days Groote Schuur Hospital was known for its excellence and indeed pioneered the first heart transplant in the year of my finals.

We had an excellent training, confirmed now by the latest research to be effective and evidence-based. 'Sometimes to heal, always to care' was the ethos of our School of Physiotherapy. We were taught to use our bodies and our minds to rehabilitate those in need of it.


 For over fifty years I have continued in this profession in one form or another, formerly, part-time in my own practice in South Africa, and since coming to the UK, as a full-time community therapist in the NHS, working mainly with the elderly. In 1996 I was recruited in South Africa by Life Span Community Trust Cambridge which was setting up new services in the community.

My interests lay in back care, respiratory rehabilitation and health promotion in the older population, also teaching those who care for them. I have been able to see these ambitions fulfilled and retired from the NHS in 2008. 

I continued to work among the elderly, first by providing a local, community radio show to keep the shut-ins on their toes. This was  by luring them with music from a bygone era and tips on healthy living, followed by safe, chair-based exercises. This continued for 7 years under the title "Silver Lining' and podcasts are available on this website under Competant Carers.

In 2013 this was followed by a local exercise group run in the community room at our sheltered housing complex, and later on the MOD Barracks, Waterbeach where it continues to run very successfully under the direction of my colleagues. 

In 2016 I completed an MSc in Public Health, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and remain registered as a physiotherapist with the Health and Care Professions Council. I have now settled in Helensburgh, Scotland, where I promote Intergenerational Ageing for Robust Living. A local residential home requested that I give chair-based exercises once a week, which I commenced early in 2020. 

I have uploaded a short presentation, based on my MSc project, at the World Congress of Physiotherapy in Cape Town in 2017 

Part of my story is how I am learning to live with multiple Long Term Conditions which has naturally fed into and informed the advice and suggestions I make on my website.

Movement is at the heart of life and I hope to make it live for you.

'Every moment learning, sharing and caring.'

The underlying philosophy of my practice has always been to know the anatomy, physiology, function and pathology of the parts of the body as far as possible, and then to apply physical laws and common sense to provide therapy.

I have always found that a good knowledge of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is of great value for all conditions, combining maximal sensory stimulation with muscular effort in patterns appropriate to the optimal functioning of the brain. Such movements are now recognised as 3D exercises, similar to Tai Chi.

More than just knowledge, physiotherapy is an art as man is always more than just a body and must be treated with dignity and compassion. The mind and body are amazingly complex and beautiful and our therapy should reflect this as we enjoy working to restore man to true humanity, enhancing his life, using simple, functional and hopefully enjoyable therapeutic movement to do so. Images can tell stories too. 

As I mentioned, I recently completed an MSc in Public Health. What started off as a focus on the management of frail, elderly persons came to be a study of the secrets of resilience and a quest for ways to promote robust ageing. This is termed the New Gerontology as it focuses on the positive challenge of building good health and resilience into the ageing process throughout the lifespan. In this study, as Prof Phil Hanlon of Glasgow says, we have to compress the years of living with high morbidity into as short a period as possible and as far along the life pathway as possible.

Perhaps the most essential part of me is my relationship with the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have sought to walk in the light of their glory since a young child. Much of my journey has been tumultuous; some of it captured on my blog which I began in earnest in 2009. 

The link is to be found here.