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Poetry Competitions UK
14 Jun 2011

Barry Pankhurst

My name is Barry Pankhurst; I was born in May 1946 in the town of Enfield, Middlesex, England, but now reside in Indonesia with my Indonesian wife Sumi and stepdaughter Yuni.

By profession I had been a master baker and confectioner specialising in the decoration of celebration cakes, when I first started my career at the age of 15 in a small family run business called (Painters of Enfield). Little did I realise how my career and life would evolve, as it gave me the tremendous honour of being able to make cakes for many members of royalty, stage/screen celebrities and to be used in television advertising. Then, when I was working as a regional bakery adviser for one of the UK's leading supermarket chains, I noticed a challenging job opportunity in a bakery trade magazine to work overseas in Doha, Qatar, as a bakery manager within a department store. I applied for the vacancy and out of 300 applicants was fortunate to get the position. It was to be a major stepping stone that would challenge my whole life in so many ways.

After having worked in Doha for 4 years, I was then asked to join one of the world's leading consumer companies as their regional bakery manager to the Middle and all Far Eastern countries, first being based in Thailand and then eventually in Indonesia, which is where I meet my dear wife Sumi. It was a career that bought me into contact with and gave me a far reaching understanding of many different cultures, customs, traditions, religions and changed my whole philosophy of existence. Then in January 2005, fate took a devastating twist in my life when I was diagnosed as having mixed dementia with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease which turned my entire life upside down. Having this illness has been made worse since where we live in a small provincial village, there is no Alzheimer's society or day centre support groups for either myself or my wife so we are in a very much go it alone situation. I've since reflected that whatever scenes of desolation lay ahead of us I've never feared one more brutal than this, yet I would go on with my life… but I could bring to it nothing more than the importunate acquiescence of determination as I walk a new pathway with my dear wife which has since made me portray the effects of my Alzheimer's journey in poetry with the ultimate aim of broadening the awareness of this debilitating illness.

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