Be the Light in Someone’s Dark

In the words of a wise, old man:

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This is one of my favourite movie quotes because it is something I’ve always believed in. In a world full of questionable decisions made by even more questionable leaders, we need to do what good we can whenever we are able to – how else can we keep faith in humanity?

Last Friday’s staff meeting was a special one for me because it focussed on just this. A rather inspiring chap called Matt Callanan came in for a chat. My description of what he is about would not do his work as much justice as is deserved, so here is a little screen shot from his organisation’s website, www.wemakegoodhappen.com

 

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Inspired by his story and all the good Matt and his team have done so far, we split into groups and roamed the streets of Cardiff, each group equipped with a £10 note from Management. This idea came from Matt’s #tenner4good initiative which saw him hiding £10 notes round Cardiff in the hope of inspiring those who found one to spend it on someone in need.

My colleagues and I decided to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and take a carol-singing approach, right outside the Apple store in the busy St. David’s Two Shopping Centre, Cardiff – an idea which horrified the three of us but when challenged to think of others, it’s surprising how quickly inhibitions get lost. My colleague’s father is a Director of a charity in Pontypridd that is struggling with funding, which will have a massive affect on its service users. Viva! began in the early nineties, providing leisure and training opportunities to children and young people between the ages of 11-30 with and without a disability. Working for a youth charity myself, hearing my colleagues story about what could happen if it all stopped really affected me, so we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to raise some awareness of such a great charity and the need for more funding.

With our £10, we bought some pens and paper for posters to display what we were doing. We also bought lots of Christmas chocolates to give out to the public while singing along to any Christmas Carol karaoke videos we could find on YouTube. It was a massive gamble for us because although the footfall in the shopping centre was huge, you could see that with only ten days until Christmas, shoppers probably wouldn’t want to know.

 

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After an hour of spreading festive cheer and talking to strangers about our concerns for Viva!, my faith in humanity was strengthened. Busy shoppers took the time to stop, listen and give to the cause. From the happy-go-lucky businessman who gave £5, to the Cancer Charity elderly driver who gave £3 and to the gorgeous little girl in the penguin Christmas jumper who gave 13p, we thank you all. Our #tenner4good had quickly turned  from £10.00 into £56.45. Of course this isn’t enough money to save a charity, but it sure is a start. I returned home that night with an enormous sense of wellbeing – my team and I had done a good deed with a single tenner.

I’m writing this blog, not for praise for what was achieved, but to plant the seed in your mind that you too can really help someone – and you don’t even have to be rich to do it! We Make Good Happen is aiming to collectively achieve 1 million good deeds – why not be a part of it?

With 2018 looming, and a brand new year just around the corner, I, Stacey Louise Harris am going to make a conscious effort to do more good deeds for others. There are so many benefits to this attitude I implore you to try the same. ‘Good deeds’ or ‘acts of kindness’ can improve confidence, control, optimism and overall happiness. You never know, they can even encourage others to repeat the kindness that’s been bestowed upon them.

 

The World Mental Health Foundation says, “When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness.” it also says, “Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can provide a real sense of perspective and make you realise how lucky you are, enabling you to stop focusing on what you feel you are missing – helping you to achieve a more positive outlook on the things that may be causing you stress.” Working for a youth charity and helping youngsters overcome barriers every day, I can already promise you that this completely true – you really are reminded how truly blessed you are.

So whether it’s short-term like paying for the shopping of the person in front of you or giving up a seat for an elderly lady on a bus, or long-term like volunteering for a charity or mentoring a person in need, give it a shot and be the light in someone’s dark.

LilMissAshes Does Beefy Walk 2012

A few weeks ago, my buddy Big G text me and asked if I’d like the opportunity to walk 8 miles with the great Ian Botham. IAN BOTHAM! The man is a legend! I immediately had a flashback to the days I would swoon whilst watching him on Question of Sport, slaying Bill Beaumont with his sporting knowledge and sexy moustache. I did not tell Big G of this crush though, I had to play it cool! I quickly said HELL YES! This was not something anyone in their right mind would turn down. I asked Big G if my mate Abby could come too as it would be a great start to our #cricketgirlsontour season whilst doing something good for charity. He said yes.

8-mile walk. Sounds quite easy doesn’t it? I’m sure it would have been too, but it was not what we had in store. Little did Big G tell Abby and I that we would have a 13-mile run facing us instead. Beefy would be walking his usual 5/6 mph pace (which is bloody fast!) and we would be next to him, randomly jogging and sprinting to members of the public asking for money. I then understood why Big G held this info back – it’s effectively a half-marathon! I train in the gym on average about 3 times a week, but definitely wasn’t prepared. 20 minutes on the cross-trainer does not equate to sprint down Bute Street trying to entice office workers to through coins from their windows into my bucket!

 

 

For those who aren’t aware of what this walk is, it’s Beefy Walk 2012. Every year, Beefy walks 150 miles over 10 cities in the UK, raising money for blood cancer charities. He’s been doing it for about 25 years and 2012 was the year I was part of it. Realistically, I should’ve conked out after about 5 miles of running but somehow my adrenaline kicked into overdrive and something inside me enabled my stamina to reach levels I didn’t think were possible! At one point, Abby and I were jogging with Welsh Rugby star Tom Shanklin in-between us offering us jelly babies. A surreal moment I must say! (And what a gent he was too!) I think what kept us going was the reason we were doing it all. Not just to do it with Beefy but to collect as much money as we could for charities that help so many people.

 

 

Unfortunately, 10 miles into the 13-mile journey, my legs could run no longer! I wasn’t out of breath or tired, the top half of my body was ready to complete the final leg but my hips, quads and hamstrings were crying out ‘What the hell have you done to us?!!!’ and Abby and I had to get a lift to the finish line. The important thing though was that our job of collecting money was over and between us we had taken about a £1000 that day, maybe even more! Not bad for two cricket gals whose only running adventures involve running for a taxi after a night out! I do think the picture with Wales Rugby Beauty Jamie Roberts at the end of it all made my pain go away pretty quickly! Maybe I should have asked him to use his Doctor skills?

 

 

That day I got to meet one of my all-time sporting heroes. I’d seen him briefly one year in Blue Mango Indian Restaurant in Birmingham when I went for a meal with his statistician, but this was up close and personal, and something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

 

 

I know that I’m definitely putting my name down for it again next year and am encouraging everyone who reads this to walk with Beefy – It’s an amazing feeling. And what a way to kick off #cricketgirlsontour! If you’re not already, make sure you’re following me (@LilMissAshes) and Abby (@abbyosullivan) on Twitter to see what crazy things we get up to on our tour round the county grounds this year.

 

If you’d like to know more about Beefy Walk 2012 or would just like to make a donation, go to http://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk/get-involved/beefys-great-british-walk-2012-0