Who would you consider a hero?
Hercules? Robin Hood? Mother Teresa? Batman? Beyoncé?
All of the above?
Heroes can be different things to different people, and the definition changes with the times. Whereas in ancient times heroes were mighty warriors who performed unbelievable feats of bravery, today’s more civilised society means slaying a dragon isn’t a prerequisite for being called a hero.
We need to go way back to the year 1387 to find the first time someone was called a hero – right around the time The Canterbury Tales was being written and a disagreement about who was in charge of France escalated into the Hundred Years’ War.
Derived from the Greek ἥρως (hērōs), it literally translates to ‘protector’ or ‘defender’, and, since antiquity and until very recently, heroes were exactly that: celebrated warriors who protected their communities and often died for them. But besides brave and powerful, they also had a reputation for being vain, self-righteous, and arrogant.
As society moved (somewhat) away from feudalism and warfare, heroism was no longer reserved only for warriors. A hero nowadays could be anyone who captured enough social attention and displayed a bit of bravery: politicians, singers, movie stars, Elon Musk, YouTubers, even just a kid with a perfectly-timed rimshot.
We think it’s time to reclaim the mantle of the hero. In ancient Greece a hero was someone who defended their community through singular acts of valour, but in modern Britain a hero is someone who looks after their community with small acts of kindness.
Instead of capturing Cerberus, the three-headed dog, you might find them looking after strays in the local shelter. You won’t find them splitting the sea, but you might spot them beaming happy smiles as they stop the traffic to help kids cross the road.
They don’t seek recognition, because that’s not what they’re about. They look after their community because it’s in their nature. They’re a new breed of hero that doesn’t need the limelight; they’re genuine, unpretentious, and unfailingly generous. They’re a Humble Hero.
These Humble Heroes, with their everyday extraordinariness, remind us that we don’t need to be exceptional to be heroic to someone. To be a hero is a choice that any one of us can make, even on a small scale, to go above and beyond for those around us and to make our tiny universe slightly more wonderful.
The (greek) tragedy of these Humble Heroes, of course, is that no fables will be written about them. There’s nobody chronicling the exploits of Laura The Lollipop Lady. Until now.
We’re more than thrilled to announce the start of our Humble Heroes campaign. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be searching high and low for the nation’s greatest Humble Hero.
To immortalise their contribution to society, we have enlisted the help of internationally renowned artist Alexander Lumsden who will create a bronze sculpture celebrating them. The final masterpiece will be unveiled in front of their local community and displayed in a heroically befitting place.
And to find them, we need you! Find out how you can help us here.