Oops. My improbable plan was to offer up an alternative Queen’s Speech for Christmas Day. But clever friends (or Santa, depending on your age as you read this), bought me a bottle of Salted Caramel Tequila. They know the way to my heart and to my taste buds. First two shots, 9.30am. ‘Writing’ quickly burbled its way to foggy impossibility. “Cog fog!” (Cognitive Dysfunction), shout MSers. “Sozzled,” admits I…
Instead I shall emulate all our glorious political and religious leaders and issue a New Year’s Message. That’ll show ‘em.
‘Fundraise, Bloody Fundraise!’ is my 2021 nag. If you are of a certain age or you like your 80’s music, you’ll get the rhyming plagiarism in the title from a certain U2 song. 1983 I think. A particularly popular disco floor buster for those of us too inept to dance. You jumped up and down exchanging generous splashes of beer or sweat. And shouted. That was it.
And if you know a little more, or you’re of an even crumblier ‘certain age’, you’ll know that the song refers to ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland : and a particular grizzly incident in 1972, where 26 civilians were shot dead by the British Army. All frankly a bit – a lot – bizarre to bop to. ‘Different times’.
That’s a long winded apology for using an awkward title to deliver a simple message to my millions of followers. Millions, honest. ?.
Earlier in the month I wrote a series of posts on LinkedIn. Thousands of followers there. Thousands, honest. ?.
The posts ran on the first twelve days of December, and started, “on the Xth day of Christmas, 2020 gave to me,” followed by a positive experience from the year. It really wasn’t that difficult to find a dozen jolly goodnesses to come out of the Year-that-must-not-be-named…
A speedy, unscientific and frankly impatient analysis of my twelve gratitudes lists off: friends and family; in particular beautiful wives; our health services; exercise and the great outdoors; technology keeping me going; and charities. Charities. CHARITIES! I personally depend on no less than five:
1. Shift.ms, https://shift.ms/about-us, who not only provide me with a fabulous support network, but also see fit to employ me part-time. And I bloody love representing them and all they offer.
2. The local Chilterns MS Centre, https://www.chilternsmscentre.org/, closed and having a rough ride at present. In other years, I’d be exercising, breathing pure oxygen at three atmospheres, and eating cake with friends there. Not at the same time. Obviously.
3. Bournemouth Lions Wheelchair Rugby Club. Managing the odd training session this year, but providing me with oodles of motivation to keep fit for 2021 and some bashtastic reunions.
4. Motability. A charity leasing me an adapted car at ridiculously generous rates. Keeps me moving, keeps the family together in one vehicle with all my cumbersome accessories. We received a new one this month…
A strange man in pyjamas, sporting a new hand-control car, yesterday
5. Sportability. Gets me and lots of other disabled people some delicious adrenalin buzzes (this year indoor skydiving and Quadbiking. Next year who knows?!).
Honourable mentions to the MS Society and MS Trust too. Both amazing charities but I’m already being greedy listing five to support my bloomin’ condition.
And that’s just me. One disabled person among thousands. I’m not terminally ill. I’m not poor. I’m not living in a war-torn or famine-ravaged country. I’m not an abandoned child. I’ve not been harmed or physically abused. I’m not homeless. I’m not an addict or a recovering one. I could obviously go on. And like so many areas of society, charities that support us have been absolutely decimated by the events of 2020.
Most of us are watching our pennies, nervous about the future or even simply day to day. And if any of us are joining in fundraising activities, they are all solo or virtual. Not quite the impact or commercial clout of The London Marathon.
Here’s a sobering headline from the Financial Times in November: ‘Charity sector faces £10bn funding shortfall and 60,000 job losses’. Big numbers but behind that is the stark reality of services lost to the neediest in society.
I recently stumbled across Bhutan’s ‘Gross National Happiness’ philosophy that guides their government thinking instead of everywhere else’s ‘Gross Domestic Product’ obsession. It includes an index which is used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of a population. Now I can buy into that big time.
‘Happiness’ is sustainable. Constant growth worldwide just isn’t. And I have discovered through my own condition that a huge chunk of smiley well-being comes from giving, not receiving. Unless it is salted caramel flavour tequila of course.
Please please, think how you can help charities next year. In teeny ways or stupendous ones. My own fundraising ‘Virathlon’ wobbles on with over 25km rolled, nearly 100 tonnes bicep curled in bed watching YouTube, and over 3km walked. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-webb38
But it doesn’t have to be me. It doesn’t have to be Multiple Sclerosis. It doesn’t have to be disability. Just find a charity or cause close to your heart. And do something for it in 2021. Volunteer? Donate? Fundraise Bloody Fundraise?