Introducing your Humble Hero

We have had so, so many amazing entries.

Ray Marsh has been the volunteer warden of Skipper’s Island in Essex for over 60 years. Diligently rowing people across the half a kilometre stretch of water, with his trusty dog Bella, more than 10,000 times. That’s the equivalent of single handedly rowing to Brazil. Pretty impressive. Ray said:

“I never did anything for recognition, I just used to get on with the job – but it wasn’t really a job because I enjoyed it.”

His friends and colleagues nominated him for the award with some very moving videos thanking him for all the work he’s put in over the years.

On being told that he was nominated, he said:

“To be recognised is a brilliant honour and to think that people have taken the time to do that for me is lovely – it is very kind of them.”

And that’s the point really. This whole thing, the whole Humble Heroes project is about people being able to recognise and thank other people in their community.

People don’t do these things for recognition, they do it because they’re good people and because they can. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recognise them and stop to say thank you to them.

Regular volunteering numbers are set to fall by 2.71 million over the next year. Volunteering is a key tool in helping the nation combat its loneliness epidemic. The number of people feeling lonely is predicted to rise by five per cent in the following year to 3,591,427. Every hour, 20 more people will recognise they are lonely.

I wonder what the effect would be if some of these volunteers were thanked a little more often by the average Joe in the street. People like me and you, just simply saying thank you. Would that give them the boost they need to continue with their great work? I’m sure it wouldn’t do any harm.

A few of the other Humble heroes

Heroic Harry Brown who doesn’t let living with Down Syndrome slow him down as he leads the Chester Le Street Amazons under-7s football team to stunning victories.

The wonderful Jane Walker has changed thousands of lives through her charitable work in Manila, and given forgotten members of society dignity, education and healthcare. Without Jane there wouldn’t be schools or health centres in some of these deprived areas.

The queen of crochet. The countess of cross-stitch. The magnificent Hilda McLeman. She has a cupboard of crafting materials she guards like Fort Knox, and she’s supported her local Primary School for almost 20 years.

The formidable Anne Tranmere who has fostered over 250 children. I have one child, he’s recently left home to go to music school at the tender age of 17. I know how difficult it can be at times, with one child. 250 children, I can’t even get my head around that. Anne, you blow my mind.

It’s been quite a humbling experience for us. We received so many nominations, including one for a dog, a rescue Staffie called Buddy who recovered from an abusive puppyhood to become an animal charity’s keenest fundraiser, and lead workshops for nervous dog owners.

So here’s an honest-to-goodness thank you to everyone and anyone who entered, from the deepest recesses of our hearts here in The Book of Everyone.

So who’s the nominee to be cast in bronze? They must have done something truly amazing. And yes they have.

Our first Humble Hero to be cast into bronze is Lidia the Lollipop Lady. Lidia works in Muswell Hill London. You will find her most mornings or afternoons, rain or shine, at the junction between Coppetts Road and Coldfall Avenue.

Even though she’ll be donning a high vis jacket you may well hear her before you see her. She will be chirping out “thank you my little princess” or “good morning my beautiful boy” because that’s what she does. I won’t say that’s all she does. Because what she does with these little gifts of encouragement is very special, she makes that small corner of the world a much brighter place to be.

Almost 100 people have taken the time to record a video, using The Video of Everyone, to thank Lidia for making their day just a little bit brighter with her caring and happy persona. It’s something so simple, it’s really beautiful.

We all have the capacity to do this, we can all make the world around us that little bit better just by caring for the people that we come into contact with.

Humble Heroes has never really been about one person doing something amazing. It’s been about looking to the future and celebrating an attitude that can be inspiring to us all. Sculpting and casting Lidia in bronze is, in our minds, the perfect way to represent and thank all the Humble Heroes out there that go out of their way, over and above, to provide a little warmth for their community.

Even in the Humblest of ways.

Thank you Lidia, and all that you represent.

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