Last week I tootled through the familiar counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire where I was born and went to college and Warwickshire where Granny lived, before nipping into the NEC for a meeting at Motorhome and Caravan Show, through the unfamiliar territory of Birmingham into Staffordshire, Shropshire where my grandfather grew up, my grandparents are buried and where Izons the cast iron foundry of my ancestors once was to the familiar territory of Powys for the Mid Wales Tourism Awards where an annual event I organise was a finalist in the Best Event category. We didn’t win but it was such a thrill to be shortlisted, to gain industry recognition and catch up with friends, finalists, people that live in my phone and meet some awe inspiring industry greats.
Pam Powell from Rhayader, who was born in 1924, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her massive contribution to the tourism industry in Mid Wales for many decades, and my friend and fellow Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador Carl picked up the Best Attraction Award for Dan Yr Ogof. For a full list of winners and finalists see MWT Cymru.
The previous week I attended the Visit Wales Tourism Roadshow and heard all about the plans for the next “Year Of”. This year has of course been “Year of Discovery’ and I have had a great time discovering parts of Wales I have never been to as well as pockets of people, flavours and film locations that until now only existed in magazines, journals, social media and on the telly. Not only that but I’ve also discovered my journeys are somewhat more companionable with audio books and I have therefore reduced my TBR pile considerably.
Of course audio for me is no substitute for a physical book, nothing can remove that frisson of excitement of a new book. As children we would go to the library in Twyford and Wokingham armed with our books to return and full of hope that the book we wanted was in stock, very simple pleasures but we would emerge triumphant after perusing the shelves for ages. When I commuted to Tower Bridge and the City I would nip into Bates the Booksellers and spend ages choosing books to see me through the month. It will therefore come as no surprise that of the many gift vouchers available I would always choose a Book Token for birthdays or Christmas.
Christmas, there I’ve said it. Growing up as I did in the 70s the C word was not Christmas, no the dreaded C word was cancer. My father died in1979 and my early years were peppered with hushed tones, lowered eyes and avoiding glances when whispering “the dreaded C”.
Perhaps it is my formative years that make me so angry when people talk about Christmas as the dreaded C, for many getting to Christmas is a luxury denied to so many. Which is why this year I have double checked I am signed up for Organ Donation and have registered as for stem cell donation via DKMS thanks to an Instagram great Sally of @gettingstuffdoneinheels. Every 35 seconds, someone somewhere in the world is diagnosed with blood cancer. For many people, a stem cell donation from an unrelated donor is their only chance of recovery. The majority of those affected are unable to find a matching donor within their family and must search in the worldwide pool of available donors. However, 4 out of 10 people in need of a stem cell donation globally are unable to find a suitable donor. I have also been involved in the distribution of the HeadSmart Brain Tumour Symptom Card from The Brain Tumour Charity. All schools in Wokingham Borough have been given the cards and if you have not got yours then please do get in touch with me.
These simple things cost nothing and could ultimately save a life and to me the gift of life is worth more than anything.