Having recently completed the ASIST course (suicide first aid) I am acutely aware of the high incidence of suicide here in the UK, as in other countries. I am also conscious of the impact that it can have on families and friends. Many of us personally know people who have been affected in this way.
So it was particularly timely to read today of a nine-year-old from Southend, Essex (UK) who – two years on from his father’s suicide – has only just managed to come to terms with the loss, and has now begun a fundraising bid in his memory.
Ben Gotts suffered from severe depression, and despite having a deep bond with his young son Mason, took his own life in 2011, shortly after being released from a mental health unit. Mason and his mother Lisa were devastated by the tragedy, and it is only very recently that the young lad has felt able to visit his father’s grave. On doing so, he was disappointed to see that it was marked simply by a small plastic sign, whereas all the surrounding graves had headstones. He made up his mind to rectify this, and is planning to raise £1000 for “a big black headstone” with the inscription “Thank you for being my daddy. I love you loads.”
So he will be undertaking a 12-mile beach fundraising walk this month, from Shoeburyness to Chalkwell (and back), on what would have been his father’s 41st birthday. A touching tribute, and one which definitely deserves support. To sponsor Mason, call Lisa (07453 323410) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any excess funds raised will be donated to Southend Mind.
And while we are on the subject of suicide… if you ever get the chance to take the ASIST course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), I would highly recommend it. One day you might come across someone contemplating suicide, and you could perhaps be instrumental in saving their life, if you have been suitably trained. Check out LivingWorks’ main (Canadian) website at www.livingworks.net for further details.
Alice Pyne loses her battle with cancer.
At the end of November I mentioned 17-year-old Alice Pyne and her charitable work. Yesterday I was saddened to read on the Diana Award Facebook page that the inspiring young lady from Cumbria, UK, whose ‘bucket list’ blog touched so many hearts, and who raised more than £100,000 for good causes, has finally lost her battle with cancer (Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and passed away last Saturday, with her parents and fellow fundraiser sister Milly by her side.
Alice and Milly both received Diana Awards last year for their inspiring charity work. Thirteen-year-old Milly, who has struggled with Crouzon’s syndrome since birth, continues as an ambassador for her sister’s charity, Alice’s Escapes, which organises holidays for seriously ill children and their families.
Alice (foreground), with sister Milly.
You can read Alice’s story HERE.
In a story that has some similarities with that of Rachel Joy Scott, I was saddened – but at the same time, heartened and inspired – to read about the shooting earlier this year of Kayla Ferrante, and the subsequent charitable work that has been financed in her memory with the reward money originally set aside to catch her killer.
Kayla was a student at Tulsa’s Memorial High School, where she graduated on the 25th of May this year. The following day she was killed in a drive-by shooting, after her car was mistaken by the shooter for that of a rival gang member. When several weeks had elapsed without the killer being identified, Kayla’s family and friends started a reward fund, through Crime Stoppers, with which they hoped to either catch the gunman or (if he was caught independently) to donate to a special cause that had become close to the young lady’s heart…
Having needed a filler class, to complete her schedule, Kayla had agreed to work with special needs kids, and this very quickly changed her life. Soon, these became “her kids”, and she achieved a great deal with them, in a short space of time. She planned to make this kind of work the subject of her career. She even signed up for summer college classes, and was due to volunteer at Tulsa’s Little Lighthouse. But fate ended all those plans.
Eventually Kyla’s killer was caught, but without any special tip-offs, so the $10,000 reward money was still untouched. Now, in a move normally not allowed by the Tulsa Crime Commission, which was holding the funds, the entire sum was handed over to Memorial High School on Tuesday this week, to be used to continue Kyla’s work with the special needs children. Her mother, Roxanne, says that the community’s love and generosity has been “overwhelming”, and six months after losing her daughter it’s comforting to know that her work (the Kayla’s Kids programme) will now be able to continue – something that she would have been very proud of.
Photo Credit: Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority
Bus drivers aren’t necessarily the first people who come to mind when the word ‘heroes’ is mentioned. Yet twice in the last few months bus drivers have hit the headlines for displaying altruistic behaviour.
China: The first was back in late May, when 48-year-old Wu Bin from Hangzhou, China, heroically steered his bus to safety, parked it, put on the hazard warning lights and calmed his passengers, before collapsing from his injuries, after being struck by a sheet of metal that flew through his windshield as he was driving his regular route from Wuxi to Hangzhou.
Doctors were amazed at how the fatally-injured driver managed to stay conscious and in control, enduring extreme pain, in order to ensure the safety of his passengers. Fellow workers paid tribute to the dedication and work-ethic of the brave driver, whom the company said had driven “safely for over one million km without any traffic accidents or complaints from passengers”.
Canada: Then, two days ago, a Winnipeg Transit bus driver shocked his passengers by stopping and giving a homeless man his shoes, before continuing the journey with just socks on his feet. The driver – said to be a man in his mid-twenties – has not been named, but regular passengers on that route say that he is a very polite gentleman. The comment from his employers was that his generosity and kindness was “a reminder of the compassion and commitment demonstrated by City of Winnipeg employees throughout the community on a daily basis.”
As micro-blogger Wang Wenhe commented on QQ.com, following the first of these two different (yet related) incidents: “Heroes are not just those people who have superpowers, but regular people who do good deeds day after day.” Here at Generosity News we regularly feature special people such as the two bus drivers mentioned here today. However, we’d also like to salute the myriad ordinary men and women, boys and girls who may never hit the headlines, but who by their good deeds – or even just their pleasant demeanour – bring a bit of compassion and sunshine into the world.
A teen who collapsed unexpectedly while exercising at his high school, and died last weekend, has inspired his peers to start living better lives. A Twitter hashtag, #LiveLikeAdam, has been created to express how they intend to follow his example.
Adam Blake Smith, who was just 16 years old, was said to be a “gracious”, sociable, spiritual individual, whose presence filled others’ lives with joy and fun. He was a keen sportsman and athlete, with a promising future. But above all, he was considered to be a true “servant” of others. Numerous people have paid tribute to how it was his deep Christian faith that motivated his selfless life, and this was evidenced by his Twitter profile, which quoted Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (ESV) But his pastor, Matt Stacy, says that Adam didn’t merely quote Scripture: he really “tried to live by it”.
Now, students from Adam’s school – Buford High – are using the new hashtag to pledge what they will do to “live like Adam”. Not grand gestures, necessarily, but simple things like being helpful and compassionate. It’s rather appropriate that they have chosen this modern channel to pay tribute to him, because he was known to be a great tweeter who always had just the right words to say.
When I heard about this I immediately thought once again of Rachel Joy Scott and her ‘chains of kindness’: the circumstances of their passing were very different, but it seems that both have left similar legacies – an overwhelming desire and inspiration to do good and help others. This is very much a recurring theme, here at Generosity News, and Adam’s story is a timely reminder to us all that generosity of spirit can have a more far-reaching effect than we realise.
No doubt this theme will be developed further at Adam’s funeral, which takes place at 4pm tomorrow, at the family church – First Baptist Church, Buford, Georgia, USA.