with Noah Karrasch, USA 

Our Members and colleagues from around the world welcomed Noah Karrasch to Conference 2016. Noah has been in the business for 30 years and is an Advanced Certified Rolfer and developer of Core Bodywork. As an ex Entertainer, he lived up to his role as he shared his wealth of knowledge and special way of working, with us all. As someone who has had a serious accident and surgery, he had no difficulty in inspiring us all as he worked his 10 favourite spots over the weekend. The Committee had asked Noah to cover certain areas including intra-oral work which may not be everyone’s choice but like Noah, I feel it is a neglected area. Delegates embraced the work and I hope they go away and use these profoundly effective techniques particularly in whiplash and upper neck problems. Some of you will remember Nicola having a dislocated jaw for Conference 2013 so she volunteered to be the patient….

Some Noah quotes (Noahisms) I particularly enjoyed were:

‘The client has to believe that the therapist cares and that the therapist must create a safe setting….’

‘Communicate your model as the client must participate in the healing process.’

‘Don’t submit – you are in charge’.

 ‘‘Tension Myositis’ also known as Fibromyalgia – people don’t feel their feelings. The client needs to be aware that repressed emotions cause pain not structure failure………….’

‘Relaxation is so important, a respiratory rate of 6 per minute means increased cardiac health and function and a decrease in Tumour Necrosis Factor’.

‘Psoas is the storer of all stress.’

‘Remember to be aware when someone ‘acts dead’. They may giggle, talk incessantly, talk about anything apart from what is important to them, ask you about your problems’… (I have to remind you that no-one pays you to hear your problems so don’t be lured in to that trap.)

‘I’m just the scratching post, you (the client) are doing all the scratching’ He described himself as a rubber band with the client helping him to traction it!

Thank you, Noah, for liaising with the Committee and myself over the ‘menu’ for the weekend which was delivered in such a way and at the right pace that I don’t think anyone had indigestion!

Thank you too for making the journey Noah, I know you enjoyed the people you met during the workshop as well as at the meal on Saturday night. I am delighted that you will be returning to Scotland to share your work and ‘bon voyage’.

Maggie and Nicola’s surprise

On Sunday, Lorna and Kit had prepared a surprise for Nicola and I as we had resigned our directorships and chairmanship/secretary of the SMTO.

I wasn’t expecting AN ODE to Maggie and the SMTO courtesy of Kit Harling. (For those who don’t know Kit, she is the former Principal of Highland School of Massage in Inverness. Currently teaching on SMS Reflexology course, an entertainer with her husband, John – Killiecrankie plus she and I trained in nursing a few more years ago…)

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2016 winner, of the Nick Carter Salver for Services to Massage, Maggie Brooks-Carter with Kit Harling


Kit produced the ode, a powerpoint presentation (yes, by Kit!!!!) complete with former winners of the trophy and then presented ME with the Nick Carter Memorial Trophy for Promotional Work for the SMTO. Karen Stephen had presented the SMTO with this Salver when Nick died. Here is the ODE.

Ode to Maggie and SMTO

We’ll start a school in Aberdeen

We’ll teach massage and things related

We’ll go to lots of health shows

Our therapies will be promoted.


Aberdeen is too far to go

To travel is expensive

We’d rather stay in Edinburgh

So Lothian was invented


Highland School, Western School,

Fife and Borders too

The schools were running countrywide

Benefitting me and you


This isn’t enough, we need to do more

To spread the massage word

SMTO is what we need

More work? Don’t be absurd.


1992 SMTO was born

The brainchild of Maggie and Nick

Conferences and magazine followed

Things were moving really quick.


Conference presenters have been varied

They sold books and DVD

We came, we learned we bought

In the name of CPD


Presenters taught us massage

They have taught us what not to do

We even had a SACRAL VAULTER

Using no hands...Honest that’s true.


James Waslaski came from America

Bodyworkers from Ireland too

Gentle workers from Australia

To teach this motley crew


We have stretched our fellow workers

Stripped muscles with little fuss

We even did a conga once

While squeezing trapezius.


This salver has been given to many

And received with smiles and grace

But now it has gone FULL circle

And returned to its rightful place.


Then Nicola and I were presented with gifts. They were a gobsmacking surprise. The crystal vase is beautiful and I have never ever seen a crystal photo frame. I was speechless and so grateful to all responsible. You are all so so kind. It has been an amazing journey with first Nick at my side and then the amazing Nicola. She was presented with champagne glasses and champagne.

Thank you all for your good wishes on the fabby card. Nicola and I were honoured with our Honorary Fellowships and we are the only live ones! However, I ain’t dead and will continue to promote Massage Therapy. Nicola is now a Maths Teacher in Northern Ireland so she will find more free time now! Nicola’s sons were even remembered with Easter Eggs which will be collected anon. Thank you!

I have no doubt that Lorna Forrester will continue the SMTOs work for many more years to come. As I said at the AGM, I actually can’t think of a better person in Scotland to continue the work that Nick and I started, Amanda helped with, Monica Miller (mum) provided Tea Therapy for and Nicola and I continued with help from Lily Kinghorn and Mo Esson in the Brooks-Carter Clinic office in Aberdeen.

Thank you all – members from years gone by to current members who are all part of supporting Massage Therapy in Scotland and ensuring that Scotland has a say in national matters to do with our profession. We couldn’t have done it without you!

A wee history!!

The SMTO was Nick’s idea – he wanted Scotland to have its own association (except we weren’t allowed to use that word… hence ‘Organisation’). He had a challenge to convince the Scottish Office of our right to use the word ‘Scottish’. Nick was finally told by the Scottish Office that the SMTO was the pre-eminent organisation in Scotland for Massage Therapists. I remember the day sitting in the sunshine outside with a wee bottle of Asti to celebrate with Victor Seal our osteopath friend over from Canada.

We took the SMTO to Health Shows all over Scotland and met amazing people along the way, many of whom trained in massage. We offered taster sessions and back in 1992, we were thought of as crazy but, despite that, all ages were happy to strip off their trousers for a leg massage or sit down for a ‘seated neck and shoulders’ in front of the passing interested.

Amanda Brooks, my younger daughter joined us to help and organised a Massage-a-thon in 1994 with 23 venues across Scotland – Shetland to the Borders. This was in aid of Cystic Fibrosis as Maggie Inch, Committee Member, had a wonderful son suffering from the disease. That Conference was in the old Moray House in Cramond/Barnton and I can still remember being moved by the films and the talks on the subject. The Massage-a-thon was supported by Boots (the chemist not the footwear)! We raised thousands but for the SMTO, it raised awareness and brought even more interest in Massage Therapy courses, workshops and treatments. It also provided a network for those already trained in Massage.

The people I have met, the people who have inspired me to continue despite the challenges have been amazing. Yes, I could go on and on. Tanya Mann gave up her garage for Massage couches and promotional things that we needed in the Central Belt. We did promotions in the Waverly Market – we would be given an empty shop space for Migraine Week and Back Pain Week. We gave talks and demos with the help of others. Nick and I had the passion and it seemed it was infectious….

The Conferences have been legend – first in Aberdeen and then in Edinburgh. We used to have several workshops on at the same time and folks had to choose but since we launched Jim Waslaski in 1995, we have preferred the one presenter way. I have learned and polished techniques over the years – it is so easy to get rusty. Yes, there are stories – many!

It wasn’t easy when Nick died, but the support from SMTO Members who also taught at my courses was immeasurable. Dealing with complaints and appearing in court are not fun but so necessary to ensure that standards are kept high.

That reminds me of a time, I was in the witness stand for the defence and was asked quite aggressively by this particular legal beagle, if I was familiar with the General Council for Massage Therapies. I replied ‘yes’. He then asked if I was familiar with the Ethics and Code of Conduct…… Monica loved this story as I answered ‘YES I WROTE THEM’.

A lot of what Nick and I had worked on were the starting point for the General Council for Massage Therapies standards in education and ethics. A lot of people we found, wanted to keep everything to themselves. Nick and I just wanted to move things on so we could really make Massage Therapy the honorable profession it is.

We practiced what we preached, enjoying regular massages ourselves and using Massage Therapy in our practice – the Brooks-Carter Clinic. I still do now and many students and graduates enjoy the experience of working in a busy Clinic using Massage to support and sometimes replace, osteopathy.

The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve shared – with Nicola’s help via Facebook and the website and Blair Gibb has been a great help in keeping Facebook up to date too. Brochures – I have loved putting them together and doing that only reinforces my passion for Massage. I just wish Members would use them! They are on the internet waiting for you….

We always wanted Massage Therapy to be available to all and now Paulo Quadros has joined the ranks of helping us to get Massage Therapy talked about in the Scottish Parliament. Action will happen!

So it isn’t the end of an era, Nick and I were chapter 1 with Amanda’s help, Nicola and I were chapter 2.

Hey Lorna good luck with Chapter 3