Best Practice Winners – December 2018

Every year we are amazed and inspired by how people are using the Story Massage programme to share the benefits of positive touch with children and adults. We are delighted to announce our new Best Practice Winners who have worked with such passion and commitment that we feel they deserve special recognition.

Here are some of the ways that our Best Practice Winners are using Story Massage in the home, school and community.

  • Justine Horn – as Depute Head Teacher at Thorntree Primary School in Glasgow – our first mainstream school in the UK to win Centre of Excellence. After her own training, Justine found Story Massage to be so beneficial for the children that she arranged for the Head Teacher to fund training for all the teaching staff and Support for Learning workers. Story Massage is now part of the daily routine of all classes within the school.

  • Becky Drury – as a teacher with her class of 15 learners with PMLD (Year 1 – 6) at Springside Primary School. She particularly enjoys using Story Massage as uninterrupted one-to-one time with the pupils. Becky also find Story Massage very helpful at home with her own two children aged 4 and 7 years.
  • Astrid Gilmartin – within her work as Life Skills Lecturer at Hertford Regional College, helping young people with severe learning difficulties to gain personal confidence and social skills, independent living skills and skills for life and work. Astrid is so passionate about Story Massage that she organised a group training for her colleagues at the college.

  • Serena Wilson – within her extremely varied work as a Relax Kids and Mindfulness Coach. Serena runs regular sessions in primary schools as well as community classes for children and adults. She was funded to run 15 Story Massage sessions in prison visiting rooms and felt really touched on one occasion when she watched a family of Mum, Dad and four boys all sitting in a row massaging each other.
  • Tracey Allen – as a follow on to her five week Baby Reflexology Classes. Tracey recently retired from her job within the community nursing team at a Special School where she worked for 13 years and decided to take the online training course. She feels inspired by the opportunities offered by Story Massage and has lots of plans for the future!

  • Hazel Cunningham – within her work as a Relax Kids Coach and independent nurture practitioner based in a school campus in Glasgow which encompasses two primary schools, a nursery and a Learning and Communication Unit. Hazel will be leading a workshop with Vicky Mulholland on Writing Scripts for Difficult Situations at our Story Massage Conference in May 2019.

  • Diane Ho – as a teacher at Millwood School to bring a sense of calmness and relaxation to her class of 7 learners (Year 4 – 6) with PMLD in a busy environment. Diana says that both children and staff benefit from sharing a peaceful time together.

  • Christine Muslek – as an Early Level Practitioner working with children aged 3-5 years who attend Shotts Family Learning Centre. Christine has run workshops for parents and carers with excellent feedback about how Story Massage has helped with bedtime routines and sleeping patterns. The benefits for the children and families using the centre have been so noticeable that all the staff recently attended an INSET training day with colleagues from Dykehead Primary School.

Some comments from our Best Practice Winners:

“The feedback from parents has been overwhelming. They have noticed many benefits for their babies including improved sleep and social interaction. Parents now introduce Story Massage within their own daily routines at home.” Tracey Allen

“Story Massage helps our adult students to differentiate between touch that feels safe and touch that doesn’t feel safe. They are empowered to make a choice and to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to touch. It reaches all learners on their own level and this is what makes it so inclusive. Some students enjoy the touch and some students can re-tell stories and therefore everyone is engaging at their own level.” Astrid Gilmartin

“We have started doing Story Massage with the whole school at the start of each assembly. We have noticed that the children are far more settled, calm and engaged as a result.” Justine Horn

“My children love Story Massage. It has helped to develop their creative flare, boosting their confidence to re-tell familiar stories and to allow their imagination to run free when creating their own stories.” Becky Drury

“My class is lively and busy, but our weekly Story Massage session is always a lovely, calm time to share with the children. We have seen some begin to choose which stroke they would like next, and some have done strokes on their key worker’s hands. It strengthens relationships and enables us to see their progression.” Diane Ho

“Sometimes children can be a bit apprehensive about massage at first. I love to see them ‘melt’ as they begin to see how wonderful the experience is.” Serena Wilson

“We have noticed a real improvement in emotional literacy with children being more able to name their emotions and how these might impact on others around them. This, in turn, is helping to build the children’s resilience to adversity in their lives.” Christine Muslek

“The creative/literacy benefits for the children are limitless. We can easily link Story Massage into our topic and curriculum as a whole school approach. Giving a child the option to write a massage story also takes away any possible exclusion from the session if the child does not want to be touched either through peer massage or self-massage.” Hazel Cunningham

About our Story Massage Best Practice Awards

Best Practice Awards are presented to people who have trained in Story Massage (either on a face to face course or via online training) and have shown enthusiasm and commitment to sharing positive, respectful touch in their work or home. You can find out more here: Best Practice Awards

Story Massage Training Day in Glasgow

Join us for an FHT accredited training course at With Kids in Glasgow on Wednesday 27th February 2019 or Thursday 28th February 2019. Open to everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children and/or adults. Attendees including teachers, teaching assistants, therapists, health care workers, Relax Kids coaches, Baby Massage instructors, parents and grandparents. Continue reading

Story Massage for People with Dementia

Are you working with clients with dementia? Or does a family member have dementia? We talk to Aly Townley, Best Practice Winner, about connecting with her mother through Story Massage. Aly finds that the combination of caring touch with familiar stories brings comfort and relaxation – and is a fun activity for them both. Continue reading

Story Massage Training in Brighton

Discover the powerful combination of storytelling with simple massage techniques with our Story Massage training in Brighton on 7th December 2018. The FHT accredited CPD day course is suitable for everyone interested in positive touch and sensory activities for children and adults of all ages and abilities. Continue reading

Sensory Stories and Inclusive Benefits of Narrative

It was such a pleasure to meet Joanna Grace, Founder of The Sensory Projects, and talk about the powerful connection between our work – Sensory Stories and Story Massage. Joanna kindly agreed to write a guest blog which offers a fascinating insight into the power of narrative. She encourages us to look at stories from a different angle and to consider them as a powerful tool for inclusion. Read on to discover a whole new dimension to the benefits of story. Continue reading

Functional Reflex Therapy and Story Massage in Zambia

Story Massage is a versatile activity that combines well with other therapies such as reflexology. We were so delighted to interview Lorraine Senior, founder of Functional Reflex Therapy (FRT), about her experiences of sharing Story Massage in three schools in Zambia as part of her FRT Global Project 2018. And these wonderful photos show just how much everyone enjoyed the sessions. Continue reading

Story Massage Success at Networking Meetings

Story Massage is not only for children! As National Massage Day (October 1st 2018) approaches, we share Jayne Burke’s reflections on a successful networking event for National Massage Day last year. “Story Massage is a wonderful way of breaking down barriers at meetings, conferences and even team bonding days,” says Jayne who has won our Best Practice Award for her work. We hope that Jayne’s experiences will inspire you to share positive touch activities with your colleagues. Go on, give it a go….

Jayne steps out of her comfort zone

“When I heard that National Massage Day was on 16th May 2017, I decided to put on my big girl pants and ask my business coach if I could do a group activity in his monthly networking meeting (StroudNet). He usually has two high profile speakers at each event so when he said yes, I was delighted that I had been brave enough to pluck up the courage to actually ask him.

“On the morning of National Massage Day I arrived at the venue slightly earlier than usual and I noticed that I had butterflies in my tummy, I was excited about being able to share my passion. I had my carefully thought out massage story with me and, at the appropriate time, I was introduced and invited to stand up in front of the 50 people from local businesses.”

Encouraging others to share Story Massage

“I took a few slow deep breaths then demonstrated a few Story Massage strokes in the air and asked them to join in as I talked them through my massage story (see below). I could hear giggles as I asked them to imagine a map of Gloucestershire on the back on the person stood in front of them. I asked them to perform a Story Massage stroke at the appropriate place on the map to represent those travelling from Winchcombe (where I live). Everyone started to get involved and I heard someone call out the ‘Forest of Dean’ and another called out ‘Stroud’. I revelled in their verbal engagement with the activity.”

Creating a happy atmosphere at networking events

“I made my way back to my table amid a huge round of applause which seemed to go on for ages. However, although delighted, I was fascinated by the amount of love and laughter that had been released into the room and showed on people’s faces. Story Massage is a great way of getting our happy hormones flowing!

“Even after 20 years as a Holistic Therapist, I still love seeing the way people change when they experience my PAT (Positive Appropriate Touch) instruction and I feel very privileged every time it happens. Luckily, one of the attendees at the event was a photographer so I now have a wonderful record of the wonder, delight and happiness in the room. I was also deeply touched when many of the attendees made the effort to find me later on; both to thank me, and to share their experiences.

“Since then I have shared Story Massage at an IWork4UGlos Networking event and will also be sharing it at a Women’s Business ClubNetworking event later on in October.

Sharing Positive Appropriate Touch with all ages

“Story Massage is a fantastic way to share the benefits of positive touch with children and adults. And it is so much fun…! Take a look at my video to find out more.”

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. It is enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a name such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used. Ideal for everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children and adults. All the information about courses is here: Story Massage Training

Story Massage is celebrating National Massage Day!

We’re delighted to be part of National Massage Day on October 1st 2018. And the celebrations will continue throughout October which is now designated Pro-Touch Awareness Month. We are hoping you will join us to promote the power of positive touch and human connection.

What is National Massage Day and Pro-Touch Awareness Month?

This new venture is being created by the current owner of NMD, Liz Badger – with the full blessing of founder, Gill Tree.  There are exciting times ahead with a whole range of pro-touch events and activities across the country. And NMD will also see the launch of a valuable online platform with public information freely available to raise awareness of hands-on therapies and activities such as Story Massage. Read on to find out how you can get involved.

The Story Massage team were part of the National Massage Day celebrations back in 2014 when we posted a whole range of different massage congos enjoyed by people of all ages! And we are now busy working on ideas to help and support the new initiative. Check out our social media for all the updates.

Five ways you can be involved – for free!

  • Send us your photos and/or videos of Story Massage in action. We are planning to post a photo or video every day for the whole of October. Please send us your photos and/or videos to with a little caption. We want to show the versatility of Story Massage and how it brings relaxation, fun and comfort (and so much more!) to people of all ages and abilities.

  • Join the Public Facebook group. This is a fun and supportive group where you can post ideas, photographs, experiences, blogs, testimonials and events. You’ll get lots of ideas! It’s free to join and be part of the community – click here.

  • Put on an small event or activity. You can download a free logo, welcome video and ideas sheet with ways you can contribute to National Massage Day and Pro-Touch Awareness month. Check out the downloads here. 

  • Visit Olympia Beauty, London on 1st October to watch the National Massage Championship. Register for free tickets to watch the event and be part of the relaunch of National Massage Day and Pro-Touch Awareness Month. Plenty of freebies and incentives on offer!

  • Check out the online platform when it comes live. You’ll find a section on Story Massage! All the information is easy to understand and of interest to everyone who shares a passion for the many benefits of positive touch. It is free of charge, sponsored and hosted by the The Therapist Business Club. From 1st October you can access it here: Pro-Touch Platform.

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. It is enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used. Ideal for therapists, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners,  those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children and adults. All the information is here: Story Massage Training


Story Massage Lanyards Available Now!

Have you trained with us, either on the face or online? We can now offer you a Story Massage Lanyard with an approved and signed ID badge and/or a key ring with the ten strokes. We’ve had some fantastic feedback already – so do make the most of our special introductory offer.


Option 1 – a blue lanyard with an approved Story Massage ID badge (see below). The back is personalised for you with details of your name, date trained and the signatures of the co-founders, Mary and Sandra. Your certificate will indicate which of these two logos is applicable to you. Any questions, just email us or check out this blog post: Certificates Explained.  (Please note: if you wish to purchase the Story Massage Instructor Lanyard, please send us a copy of your certificate as a photo or scan)

Cost: £10 plus £2 p & p (UK rates). Please email us for overseas postage costs.

Option 2 – a blue lanyard with the ten Story Massage strokes. (see below).

Cost: £20 plus £2 p & p (UK rates).  Please email us for overseas postage costs.

Option 3 – a blue lanyard with the Story Massage approved ID badge plus a key chain of strokes. (see below).

Cost: £25 plus £2 p & p (UK rates).  Please email us for overseas postage costs.


These lanyards are only available to people who have completed our face-to-face or online training. Please email your request with:

  • Your name (for ID Badge) and postal address
  • Date of your training – day, month, year e.g. 19th June 2018
  • Photo or scan of your certificate – if you wish to purchase the Story Massage Instructor ID Badge
  • Email:

We will issue you with an invoice and then arrange delivery of your order.

Story Massage at Tes SEN Show 2018

Do you work with children or young people with special educational needs? Do you know about the Tes SEN Show 2018? Story Massage is excited to be exhibiting at this year’s show for the first time. Come and meet us, Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper, co-founders of Story Massage, on Stand 280. We will explain our unique programme of ten positive touch strokes and give you the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing Story Massage demonstration too!

What is the Tes SEN Show?

The Tes SEN Show is the largest, most-established special educational needs show in the UK. And it is free to enter, you simply need to register in advance. It is being held on Friday and Saturday, 5th and 6th October 2018 at The Business Design Centre in London.
The show is a great opportunity for SEN professionals at all levels of education to gain valuable CPD, update current thinking and find out about the latest products, resources and services. There are 42 CPD certified seminars and lots of free-to-attend workshop sessions plus exhibitors, including Story Massage.. There is also a Parent and Carer Forum where you can meet with other professionals and parents of children with SEN. 

Story Massage and SEN

Our popular programme of ten simple positive touch strokes is now widely used in Special Schools around the UK. Story Massage is fully inclusive with benefits including increased engagement, communication and attainment. Above all it is fun and interactive, making it enjoyable not only for children and young people with SEN, but also for teaching staff, parents and siblings.

Here is a video of Story Massage in Action in a Special School in Wales.

Some feedback for Story Massage

“Story Massage has become such an important part of everyday family life with our severely disabled daughter, Maisy and her sister, Poppy (photo below). Story Massage has also ignited that creative flare and confidence in helping others that I thought I had lost. I just can’t imagine our lives now without Story Massage. Thank you!” Sophie Kidd-Munnery, Mother

“We’ve been using Story Massage at Ysgol Y Deri Special School for over three years.  It is very rare to find an activity, which can engage all  learners no matter what their needs, age or disabilities.  We love the flexibility to develop your own stories and make it unique to your setting so we can meet the individual needs of the pupils. We have really noticed an improvement in engagement and communication.” Lisa Lawrence, Sensory Learning Leader      

Would you like to know more about Story Massage?

Visit us at Stand 280 at the Tes SEN Show and we will give you a warm welcome. Or contact us on to discover more about our resources and training opportunities, including INSET days and an online course.