UP CLOSE: Alice Coningham, owner of Blossoming Vitality in Glastonbury

  Posted: 30.09.21 at 12:46 by Tim Lethaby

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Glastonbury Nub News aims to be supportive to every element of the town's community from business and shops to people and charities, clubs and sports organisations.

We will be profiling some of these businesses and organisations regularly in a feature called 'Up Close in Glastonbury'.

Last week was World Reflexology Week, which aims to spread the word about how reflexology can support health and wellbeing.

To mark the occasion, we caught up with holistic therapist Alice Coningham, who runs Blossoming Vitality in Glastonbury, to find out about her work and what she loves about the town.

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Have you always lived in the Glastonbury area and, if not, what were the key considerations about moving here?

Blossoming Vitality's Alice Coningham

I have lived in Glastonbury for nine years and chose to live here because I felt a great sense of connection with the people I met here, and the beautiful, natural landscape. As my choice of work suggests, I am interested in alternative ways of living and I always find it refreshing to hear different people’s perspectives.

When I moved here (with my then partner, now husband) I was seeking a community of people who are willing to have deeper, more meaningful conversations, and show a certain level of acceptance - so that we can all ‘just be’ ourselves. I feel that I found what I was seeking in Glastonbury - it feels like a breath of fresh air for me!

Tell us a bit about your personal business background Alice, and how you came to run Blossoming Vitality?

I have been a practising holistic therapist since 2002 when I qualified as a reflexologist and nutritional advisor in Exeter at the School of Complementary Health. I then went on to Salford University and was awarded a BSc Hons in Traditional Chinese Medicine, enabling me to practice Acupuncture, Massage and Food Energetics.

Learning Chinese Medicine changed my whole perspective on life and health, and has been a valuable foundation for me in both my personal and professional life.

Inside Blossoming Vitality

Once I graduated I moved to London, practising my therapies at Neal’s Yard Remedies in Covent Garden, and in a clinic in Pimlico. Although I loved my work, London wasn’t for me, so I transferred to Bristol, continuing at Neal’s Yard Remedies in Clifton.

At this time, I also practiced at a low cost complementary health clinic at the Wellspring Healthy Living Centre in Barton Hill, where I ran a multi-bed acupuncture clinic, and offered one to one sessions in addition to that.

At this centre, I worked closely with the in-house GPs and physiotherapists, so many of my clients were referred to me and were able to gain NHS funding for their treatment, which made it really accessible and inclusive. Part of this work included a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, in which I could offer sufferers acupuncture as part of their treatment.

When I was in Bristol I studied Hypnotherapy at the Regression Academy which added another string to my bow. I really enjoyed learning about the subconscious mind and how it can drive our behaviours without us even realising!

I soon learnt how powerful hypnotherapy can be in transforming negative beliefs and unhelpful behaviours.

When I met my husband I moved out of Bristol to Yeovil, before we found our home in Glastonbury. I now practice in a beautiful and peaceful therapy room in central Glastonbury where I work full time.

I absolutely love my work - it’s part of who I am. I am committed to helping people initiate positive change to their health and wellbeing.

It’s such a joy to walk side by side with my clients as they transform their experience of life - witnessing them blossom and flourish.

I offer a really safe, confidential space for clients to explore whatever is present for them - whether they seek help to overcome mental and emotional difficulties, physical pain or illness, or as part of their self care - to keep themselves well, happy and healthy.

Sometimes people come to me seeking a particular therapy, and sometimes we do a combination of therapies, depending on what is appropriate for the individual client.

I am currently extending my knowledge and skills by studying for a Level 4 Diploma in Counselling, so I feel excited about being able to offer counselling in future.

What do you like about Glastonbury? How are you involved in the local community?

I love the relaxed and friendly atmosphere here in Glastonbury. I love how there is a strong sense of community here, but it also expands and opens up to visitors from all over the world - each with their own story to tell about how Glastonbury is important to them.

I am a steering group member and attendee of the Touching the Earth Sangha - a Buddhist group following the Plum Village tradition of Zen Buddhism, which I find to be a wonderfully supportive community. It was a really precious moment when my husband and I took the 5 Mindfulness Trainings a couple of years ago, and we continuously aim to practice them in our daily life.

My husband and I are companions of the Chalice Well which is a real haven of peace and tranquillity. We are Glastonbury Abbey members as well, and particularly love the Night at The Abbey event they host every August.

I have really enjoyed attending local yoga classes with the wonderful Kate Bee (before Covid), and we used to attend the Positive Living Group regularly.

I love the Tuesday market when I get a chance to go - it always reminds me how many talented and creative people we have in our town.

The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on many businesses and organisations - what are your plans?

During the lockdowns I had to close my face to face practice, and just offer online support for clients through nutrition advice, online hypnotherapy and wellbeing check-ins. I have been following the guidance by my regulatory body (the Federation of Holistic Therapists), and it is a joy to be able to practice face to face again, so I am hoping this will continue - but there is always the chance we could get another lockdown, and I need to be prepared for that.

Since being back to face to face work, my practice has been super busy. It seems that coronavirus and all of the lockdowns have prompted people to re-prioritise what is important to them - health and wellbeing seems to be a greater priority for people now.

Moving forward, I plan to continue aspiring to offer the best holistic service I can for my clients. I am also excited about offering counselling once I have finished my Counselling Diploma next summer.

What businesses do you like and use in Glastonbury?

I shop in Earthfare every week - I really appreciate being able to access such high quality plant-based foods and nutritional supplements there. I love the gluten free bread at Burns The Bread, and The Green Room provides delicious vegan and organic wine when I fancy a treat.

I buy high quality essential oils and medicinal herbs from Star Child - and I love the experience of walking through the veil of incense as I enter their doors.

I buy natural skincare products from Fairyland Aromatics - such beautiful, high quality products. And we get a weekly organic veg box from the Plotgate Community Farm.

My favourite places to eat are the Queen of Cups for exquisite sharing dishes, the Old Tannery for their yummy food and fun atmosphere, and Benedict Street Kitchen for their deliciously healthy vegan mezze.

The lockdown was very difficult for many people - how do you think that Glastonbury as a town coped?

The lockdowns have provided serious challenges for business owners, and I have been really encouraged by the resilience and resourcefulness that many local business owners have shown in response to these restrictions.

I am also aware of how debilitating isolation can be for many people. I felt comforted by the lengths many people, including myself, went to to support some of the vulnerable people in town - offering shopping trips, free food and telephone support to those needing it.

But nonetheless, there is still a ripple of anxiety that many people are feeling as a result of these challenging times.

If there was one thing in the town you would change, what would it be?

I would love it if there was more support for people struggling with homelessness and addictions. It feels like many sensitive souls ‘fall through the loop’ here, which deeply saddens me.

Glastonbury and the area around it is beautiful - what is your favourite place and why?

It’s so hard to choose a favourite place - I am feeling really drawn to Glastonbury Tor at the moment - the views are incredible, it helps me to connect with a deep sense of inner perspective.

The Avalon Orchard is very close to my heart because my husband and I shared our handfasting there a few years ago - it was such a magical day, and the apple blossom was in bloom especially for the event! It always brings a smile to my face when I remember our special day there, shared with loved ones.

If you could choose an actor to play you in a movie about your life, who would it be and why?

Emma Thompson - not because she’s anything like me, but just because I think she’s fabulous! She has qualities I aspire to have - she is elegant, warm, approachable and grounded with a great sense of humour.

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You can contact Alice via her website at www.blossomingvitality.co.uk, via email at [email protected], or via her Instagram account @blossomingvitality.

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See our other UP CLOSE profiles:

Lynda Bevan, head teacher of St Dunstan's School

Kelly Ollis, sales executive for Elan Homes in Glastonbury

Jill Barker, owner of Middlewick Holiday Cottages

Dr Jeremy Henzell-Thomas MBE, researcher and presenter

Paul Manning, owner of Blue Cedar Print Works

Would you like to be the subject of an UP CLOSE profile or do you know someone who we should feature? Contact [email protected]

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