The sad truth is ‘Everyone Deserves’ isn’t just for Christmas. In case you missed it this week Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris opened the annual Welsh Affairs debate in Parliament which celebrates St David’s Day with a speech all about ‘Everyone Deserves’.
I suppose the ‘bleak mid-winter’ sharpens our minds when it comes to those who might be struggling. Cold weather, dark nights and the spirit of Christmas all come together to bring out the best in people. As Carolyn said in her speech in the commons, ‘last December we made and delivered over 800 festive hampers. We also cooked and delivered over 200 Christmas dinners.’
On Wednesday, as we celebrated St David’s day with Welsh cakes and costumes, we also celebrated the start of meteorological spring. Its been a bright and chilly start to spring which has been a real spirit lifter. Every evening I find myself looking at my watch to check the time because I can’t believe it’s still light outside.
Maybe the season has changed, maybe the festivities aren’t quite so big, brash and hectic but as Easter approaches the need that was there at Christmas is still there. The sad truth is it will be there throughout the summer and it will be there next Christmas too. How do we keep going, how do we keep asking for people to get involved and help?
Whilst we might have need in this region, we also have something very special, we have a sense of community. I remember one journalist telling me at our Christmas launch in Swansea market last December, he didn’t think many other areas come pull off something that big, that involved so many people, and with no one was asking for money for their time.
Now I’m no Isabel Oakeshott, I’m not one to WhatsApp and tell but looking back through the message thread I have with Carolyn Harris it’s amazing how many projects we have been involved in over the years which start with a question about who do we know that could help with… and the subject could be anything from Hampers to the Menopause.
As I always say when talking about Carolyn, we go back a long way. The same school and Sunday school and we even sang ‘How much is that doggy in the window’ together at an eisteddfod. So, I know she’s real and what makes her so passionate about helping our community and she knows too much dirt about me for me to ever say no!
Picking up a cheque at the launch of Everyone Deserves an Easter 2023
Yesterday we launched the current campaign ‘Everyone Deserves an Easter’ with a bit of a show at Swansea Market and this is how it came about.
I got a call for Carolyn and Emma Thatcher who works with Carolyn to say we are going to launch on Friday 3rd March, are you free? I checked and I was. Right who else is involved I ask…. The phone didn’t exactly go silent, but I know, ok, here we go again.
Mal Pope singing ‘Dream Out Loud’ with Pentrehafod School
I think it was Emma who thought it would be good to get a school choir. I’ve just checked my emails and the invitation to Pentrehafod was sent on 19th January, less than a month after we had finished packing Christmas puds and crackers. 4 days later they had replied and agreed to join in.
Who else Mal?
The DVLA Ladies Choir.
In 2019 when Swansea celebrated its 50th anniversary of being a city I had brought together a number of choirs and singers to record a Swansea Anthem, Warm Wind. I had heard that the DVLA had a ladies choir so I made some enquiries and got to chat to their ‘boss’ Emily Powell. For many years the choir have been raising money for various charities. They were terrific and really added a splash of colour to the ‘Warm Wind’ video.
I think if Covid hadn’t arrived in 2020 we would have sung together a lot more but like so many things in all our lives we missed out too.
So, when Emma Thatcher asked who else shall we ask Mal I thought…DVLA!
I sent Emily a message and almost immediately she replied with a yes and then went on to ask, ‘who else is singing, shall we bring our PA?’
The thing is it’s not so simple as just getting some people together to launch an event.
Emma Thatcher, event organiser and bucket rattler with colleague Sarah Swinglehurst.
First question is where are we going to hold the event? At Christmas we sang in the Garden in Swansea Market. To be honest Darren Cox who mages the market probably doesn’t have much say in the matter. Carolyn has that effect on people, they could say no…but they don’t.
For me one of the big worries is the technical side of things because I’m really supposed to know how PA’s and electrics work. Thankfully the technical team at the Market know their stuff so once Emily had offered the DVLA PA system I could then start to worry about things like, which songs we could sing together and if I could remember the words and chords to my own songs.
Carolyn showing plenty of support as always
Once the campaign has been launched that’s not exactly it, I’m sure Carolyn and Emma have some other things lined up for me between now and Easter, but this is the time the real work starts. I often say we are the fanfare, the bugle call, the people who make a lot of noise before the soldiers go into battle. As well as texting me I know Carolyn has been texting and calling and nudging and cajoling all the amazing local businesses and supporters who always rise to the occasion.
After Easter comes the summer holidays. There are plans for more meals and activities to help make people’s lives better. Over the past decade or so the phenomena of wedge politics have become more noticeable around the world. This is where politicians believe they can benefit in the polls by exploiting differences between groups of people, driving a wedge through society. Hopefully we won’t let that happen here. We stand or fall together.
One last thing. It’s usually around Sept/Oct time I get a message from Carolyn Harris asking me what are we doing this year for Everyone Deserves a Christmas. Well keep it to yourself but I’ve already written the new Christmas Charity Single and I’ve asked Lee trundle to consider singing it with me. Of course, if Rod Stewart wants to do it Lee and I will gracefully recuse ourselves but at least I’m one step ahead of Carolyn on this one this year!!!