This 10 days has been about trying to step back and look at my life and ask what’s missing. I know for sure, I am rich in a lot of ways, but I rarely pay anything back. I’m not balancing my books properly. If our time on this planet is about progress and productivity and improvement for future generations then how can I say I have added to any of that? What have I done that I can honestly say I am proud of myself for or where have I helped make someone else’s life better? I think that’s what I’ve been lacking. I know I am capable of more but I constantly question things like, am I in the right job? How do I move forward? Am I getting stuck in a rut? I feel like I race through life at a million miles an hour but I don’t balance my work and social life out with any food for the soul, so it’s no wonder I’m still hungry. So today was about me starting to give a bit back and lend a helping hand where it’s needed.

As most of you will know, York was hit pretty badly by flooding over Christmas. Hundreds of properties and businesses were affected across the City in parts that don’t usually flood, and due to it being Boxing Day and people being away with families etc, very few were prepared for it. At the peak of the flood there was 30 tonnes of water a second flowing down the river Foss with heights over 4 metres above normal levels and people were trapped inside or unable to get in to protect their possessions. Following this, there were also reports of people looting and rogue traders taking advantage of people.

Here’s some drone footage of what some of the areas looked like.

One thing that has shone through this whole crisis though, is the overwhelming amount of people who want to help and are willing to come and give their time and resources to assist. Electricians and plumbers giving free safety checks, volunteers wading into people’s homes to help salvage belongings and people opening up their doors to victims who had nowhere to go. Everyone has really been pulling together where they can. This morning I went along to volunteer at the Guildhall. City of York Council had staff and volunteers organising and handing out food parcels and cleaning products for victims, including a huge donation from Nestle of coffee, chocolate, water etc. It’s still early days though, I spoke to one couple with an 8 month old baby who said it could still be up to 6 months before they can move home and are on a friends couch until their insurance sorts a flat out for them. Even though times must be so hard for them right now they were upbeat and chatty and even said they felt awkward about asking for a hand out. It reminded me of an interesting article I read on – The Neglected art of receiving.

Iain Dunn and I also took some bits and bobs down to a food trailer on Huntington Road today and I met two amazing ladies there. Huntington Road, not far from where I live, was hit pretty badly and work will be ongoing in the area for some time so there’s lots of residents, volunteers and workmen out on the street. These two kind souls decided it would be nice if someone was there to make drinks for people in need. Now dubbed Fossy’s Flossy’s (due to being right next to the river Foss!) these two girls, one a hairdresser and the other a carer, have gone from strength to strength. They started off with a small gas camping stove, making cups of tea and coffee as best they could. People obviously saw them struggle in the cold and rain trying to do a good deed with the tools they had. Since then they have had a company loan them a trailer, an electrician wire up a generator so they have lights and heat and they told me how people now pass by and honk their horn and hand them bags of fresh bacon, burgers and home baked goods for them to cook and give out. All this with jobs of their own to go to. They do it with huge smiles on their faces just because they enjoy helping people. I salute you, Fossy’s Flossy’s! I had a great time working with some awesome volunteers today (and of course Iain!)

Today was also my first time giving blood. The reason it was my first time is because I am a total wuss when it comes to needles! The thought of them has always made me shiver. But to be honest so has the thought of getting up at 0630 for a run or putting my feelings on the internet for others to see, but this week is about getting shit done so it seemed like the right time to stop making excuses and do it.  Stevie P was sending words of encouragement to me about 1 little prick today, at the same time as getting over a hundred per second into his arm for his new work of art!

Totally glad I went though. Anthea, the nurse looking after me today was a total pro and was happy to chat and explain everything to me. She helped me work out that what bothers me most is the size of the tiny vein and the size of the needle that has to go in but not through it, and then sit in there while an eighth of my blood drains out of me. And all that is in the hands of someone I don’t know. It’s still freaking me out thinking about it now and it was 6 hours ago! As my sister kindly reminded me though, she just gave birth to my 8lbs 12oz nephew Lucas, with no pain relief, clearly I needed to man up. Especially once I found out I had O negative blood type, which is rare and in an emergency transfusion, can be given to anyone.

Blood has always fascinated me, it’s like our equivalent of fuel except we can make more of it ourselves if we need to and we just charge it up every time we breathe. Imagine if we could mimic that in our cars. It’s the most precious liquid we will ever know and we make it for free. To carry it around our bodies we have around 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Sorry but what?! That’s more than twice round the world… That’s like a quarter of the way to the moon! I mean bloody hell (sorry!) We are complex beings and so when something goes wrong, we need donations to fix us. I might need some one day and so it’s only fair I donate now while I am fit, healthy and have the chance.

Click here to register and book an appointment, it’s really easy!

To finish off here’s a nice video of some very loving hearts which made me smile!

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