Small Battalion, Big Hearts

Yesterday afternoon, I was in Leeds city centre with a team of volunteers collecting donations for the city’s St Gemma’s Hospice.

Wrapped in several layers of clothing to counter the biting West Yorkshire cold, I spent three hours standing in various densely populated city streets with a collection bucket, witnessing the magnanimousness of our metropolis’ citizens.

Undertaking this type of voluntary work gives you plenty of opportunity to mull over all things existential. For instance, on catching sight of a guy holding a ‘The End Is Nigh!’ sign, I realised I needed to contact my phone network provider, requesting they change to a less melodramatic method of advising me when my data allowance was low.

In the quieter times between thanking benefactors for their donations to an excellent cause, my mind tended to wonder off seeking an idea of whimsy for my narratives (an example from yesterday being the data allowance whimsical offering above)……. Perhaps, I need to address how I spend my time during the less busy donation periods!

I also spend many minutes people-watching. Yesterday, I stood in awe as scores of shoppers, leaving and entering the Trinity Shopping Centre, avoided colliding with one another.  The result of spatial awareness eluding them, while immersed in the screen contents of their mobile devices…… Hopefully these individuals have network providers with a more efficient working practises than I for communicating diminishing data availability…….. No Gary! That tale how you were informed your network data being low was fictional; remember!

St Gemma's

During one of these quieter periods, I spent time seeking creative inspiration by the random manipulation of words and adages. Lexilogical tinkering aimed at unearthing a whimsical gem; an intentional occupying of my mind, diverting it from the current less fragrant elements in our current family existence.

As hundreds of consumers a minute passed in pursuit of yuletide gifts for little Jimmy, wee Alice and grumpy Greg, I mulled over whether there’s literary mileage in a fictional tale of a pedantic company owner whose firm made mountains out of molehills…… Or even a over-anxious CEO whose business made kerfuffles……. Or maybe a production company underpinned by organised crime who made offers you can’t refuse.

On reflection, though, I’ll file those epiphanies in the ‘Blog Ideas If I’m Really Desperate’ folder.

It wasn’t just ideas for quips that needed my creativity whilst seeking charitable donations in our metropolis’ consumer heartland. When it was time to pee I had to put the old thinking cap on….. Perhaps, I should have put as much thought into logistical bathroom problems of donning a onesie and 15 pairs of undies, as pondering the literary mileage in a tale of a pedantic company owner whose firm made mountains out of molehills.

I finished my voluntary stint at around 2.30pm (after 11am start). My body may have been cold, but as a consequence of witnessing the benevolence of Leeds’ citizens my spirit was warm.

While Briggate reverberated to the upbeat rhymes emanating from the charity’s purple gazebo, children’s groups sang and danced. Their aim, as with the small group of adult organisers/volunteers, to encourage the massed ranks of Leeds’ Christmas shoppers to generously donate to their local hospice.

Although I’m unaware of how much this event raised, it appeared to be a successful day for the St Gemma’s event organisers and volunteers. Donning their uniform incorporating a purple sash, I’m proud to have stood side by side with this small battalion of fund raisers with big hearts.

Blogs fiction Postcards from

Gary Strachan View All →

2 kids who've flown the nest, 1 wife whose flown with Jet2. Born at a young age in 1960's Leeds, the author became interested in the literary life when his wife bought him a dog. Having an allergy to dogs, he swapped it for a typewriter. Being unable to train the typewriter to retrieve tennis balls, he reluctantly turned to writing...... Website - www.writesaidfred.org

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