Last weekend we were delighted to see the Independent On Sunday publish its annual Happy List, paying respect to Britons that have improved the lives of others over the last 12 months. The paper was clear to point out this was NOT the Rich List.
Needless to say, there must be an element of subjectivity when it comes to such charts, as is the nature of making a decision on who has improved the lives of others, to what extent, and in what way those improvements have tangibly materialised. Nevertheless, we’d agree with the validity of each entry in the Top 100.
As you would probably expect, those raising money for charities or awareness for humanitarian, social and environmental campaigns feature prominently. There’s the 93-year-old who raised over £100,000 of donations for Age UK. Stephen Sutton also appears, the recently deceased cancer victim who spent his final months to generating additional funds so one day other people with his disease will stand a better chance of making a full recovery.
Elsewhere, Alf Collington, founder of a Falkirk food bank (initially based in his own kitchen) made the selection. Police officer Laura Ede’s work to improve 400,000 young women’s self esteem by 2016 was included, along with Ray Edwards, MBE; the double arm and leg amputee (a result of septicaemia) who established Limbcare, a charity committed to helping others in a similar situation. And Zoe Clark-Coates was shortlisted, too, for the charity she and her husband set up, Saying Goodbye, which helps parents get over the loss of a child- whether that’s in infancy or through a miscarriage.
Of course there’s more to the list than this. Hayley Carr’s Hackney summer school, which focuses on academically and economically disadvantaged schoolchildren, rightly received an honorary mention. As did Ray Coe, the teacher who gave one of his kidneys to a pupil, with other entries ranging from community journalists to young mentors and even a scout leader, accentuating the idea that this is one contest that’s genuinely open to everyone.
So, what should we take away from all this? That philanthropic, charitable and do-good gestures have the potential to get your face in the papers? Well, that’s perhaps a little cynical, and as a highly successful charity PR agency we’re already aware of this reality. Instead, then, it’s refreshing to see first hand proof that for all the information overload of today, and in spite of the ever-reducing number of free minutes people have, acts of kindness still don’t go unnoticed, even when they are comparatively hidden from the media glare (i.e. many of these people had no public relations or marketing to draw in the Independent). If nothing else that should act as encouragement for more people to follow in the footsteps of these well-meaning folk, which can only really be a good thing.