I woke up at 6:00am to do some work on the computer and go for a quick morning workout. The hotel had a luxurious gym with some pretty fancy equipment. To give one example: the treadmill that I was using had a built-in fan that cooled your head while you ran (I haven’t seen a lot of treadmills, but I believe that it is an uncommon feature). Breakfast was a delight – imagine a full hot and cold meal served on the absolutely gorgeous hotel veranda overlooking vast gardens, all underneath a beautiful blue sky! We packed our bags and took a very short taxi ride to our next place of residence, Cumberland Lodge. To give you an idea of how fancy things are in Windsor, our taxis consisted of brand new Mercedes’ and Audis!
Cumberland Lodge is absolutely extraordinary. Built in 1650 by an army captain of Oliver Cromwell, and located within the Windsor Great Park, Cumberland Lodge has been the residence for over 10 royals over the last 300 years! In 1947, the house was granted to a foundation that has adapted the mansion to be used for educational groups (primarily young people). The best way that I can describe the Lodge is that it feels like living within a fancy historic museum, combined with vast gardens and surrounded by grounds for show horses! Jones and I are staying in a gigantic corner suite that may have been inhabited by royalty at one point in time! Click here to read the Wikipedia article on the residence.
Facilitated by the brilliant Ashoka Fellow Charlie Murphy, we began our workshop in the neighbouring conference building. We participated in a number of icebreakers, activities, and discussions throughout the day, with the main themes for Friday centering on getting to know each other, social innovation, and leadership. Gillian Shirazi, Secretary General of the International Award addressed the group to talk more about the Award program. The highlight of the day was an activity called the river of life, where each participant drew a river that demonstrated the turning points in their life and then shared it with the group. Another highlight was a truly inspiration story shared by Ester, an award recipient from Ghana. Ester’s story of defying her family’s wishes to move out of her home and independently live in the north of Ghana was a terrific example of perseverance and initiative.
The food at Cumberland Lodge was quite delicious. Lunch was a creamy chicken and mushroom dish served on rice, along with a platter of fine cheeses for dessert. Dinner was delicious fish-cakes, a salad of watermelon, goat cheese, and mint, and a traditional chocolate pudding dessert. We were even treated to a wine reception out in the beautiful back gardens before dinner.
Our evening activities consisted of facilitated improv games, after which we played table tennis in the games room until quite late in the evening. My partner Ross from South Africa and I were the champions of the doubles tournament! I finally hit the bed at around 1am, falling asleep on what was by far the softest mattress that I had ever slept on. It felt like a water bed, but fortunately, I was too exhausted to care!