coronavirus

The Hidden People

I've been thinking recently about how many people there are in the world who seem to be 'hidden from view'.

In a culture that appears to be a bit obsessed by people who are able to make a big 'noise' about what they do - including 'celebrities' who seem to dominate our media and social media and whom many people believe are the role models we should be following  - it is easy to forget that actually it is not THESE people who often make the difference to our lives.

During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and especially during the first  'lockdown' it seemed, for a while, we got away from all this. There was a real emphasis on and people really began to recognise the contribution to our lives of people who we may be inclined to take for granted. People in the 'background' who not only keep the wheels of our communities turning, but at the time were even putting their own lives at risk so that we could be safe.

You know who I'm talking about? The nurses and doctors and medics who looked after us when we were ill and dying. That band of brave hearts, and masses of volunteers who are now making sure we all get vaccinated against this dreadful virus! Then there were those who kept the shops open so we could still get essential supplies and those who kept transport going. Teachers who kept the schools open especially for the children of those 'essential workers', those who ran foodbanks and delivered provisions to people who couldn't get out. Neighbours who checked on the people around them, people who drew rainbows and painted on pebbles, just to make us smile and feel happy.

Every Thursday evening we clapped for those who cared for us. People really showed their appreciation for those who had gone the extra mile and had shown so much kindness.

It was so refreshing!

One of the things I hope will be a legacy of the pandemic is that some of that kindness continues, along with our appreciation of people who in the past may have been 'invisible' to us.

Time will tell if that actually happens or whether we'll go back to our old ways of just taking people for granted.

In the meantime, as a reminder to me, I share this thought which I have found helpful.

And I just want to say ... to all those who make MY life better, more comfortable and easier to live, even if I don't know who you are and what you do ...  THANKS! THANKS! THANKS!

Bless the hidden people


A Slave worker's Shoe

All this week I'm looking ahead to Liberation Day in the Channel Islands with a dip into a radio series I made in the past couple of years which tells the story of the Occupation and Liberation of Jersey.

It was in early 2019 that I met with the archivists and experts at the Jersey Archive and explained that I had this idea for a series which would take objects from their collections through which we could tell the story of that period of our island's history.

I have to admit it wasn't entirely an 'original' idea, but fortunately the guys at the Archive were aware of another series which was on BBC Radio 4 some years ago - 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' made in partnership with the British Museum - so they knew exactly what I was after.

The Archive experts selected 50 Objects from the Jersey Heritage collections held in the Jersey Archive and the Jersey Museum, and then we recorded in batches across more than a year. The features ran every Friday morning on the BBC Radio Jersey Breakfast Show starting on May 9th 2019 and then picking up at the end of June and running right through to and beyond the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation on May 9th 2020.

Liberation75 could not be publicly celebrated because of the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions which were in place at the time, but I'm pleased to say our '50 Objects' series was included in the 'official' commemorations.

Although I know a lot about the Occupation, recording the series taught me so much more and one of the subjects we featured was heart-breaking and also served to uncover the brutality of life for many under the Nazis.

When you visit Jersey, and indeed the rest of the Channel Islands, you will notice that there are lots of concrete structures which were built during the Occupation in the years 1940 to 1945.

If you've been reading this blog over the past few days you'll be aware that the German Nazi forces invaded and occupied the islands on July 1st 1940. Hitler was cock-a-hoop that he had invaded a part of the British Isles and in fact, he saw it as a first step into the invasion of mainland Britain. 

That didn't happen, the British fought hard against it, including during the period known as the Battle of Britain  (this included the German night time bombing raids which became known as The Blitz) from July 1940 to June 1941.

But as the tide of war turned against them, the Nazis were determined that the Channel Islands would not be taken back so they set about building fortifications - look out points, gun emplacements, tunnels and bunkers where German soldiers could defend the islands against British and Allied invasion.

What many people might not know is that the Germans didn't build those concrete defences and walls and bunkers themselves, rather they were largely built by forced labour and what we now recognise as 'slaves'. This was part of what the Germans called 'The Atlantic Wall', and in the Channel Islands it resulted in the construction of fortifications, roads and more between 1940 and 1945. This was overseen by the Organisation Todt. which was a civil and military engineering organisation in Nazi Germany that operated between 1933 to 1945. It was named after its founder, Fritz Todt, who was an engineer and a senior Nazi.

Object 23 - slaveworker's shoeOrganisation Todt was actually responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in Nazi Germany and in their occupied territories during World War II - from France to the Soviet Union and, of course, in the Channel Islands.

Although some people were 'employed' to work on the projects, Organisation Todt increasingly used forced labour and, especially from 1943 until 1945 as the Third Reich came under pressure, this effectively meant that slaves were brought in to construct their defences. In the Channel Islands this included many hundreds of prisoners of Russian, Polish and other European heritage for whom life was just appalling.

And so to today's 'object' from the 50 Objects series. A few of the objects we looked at highlighted the plight and lives of those poor men who were brought to the islands to work on the fortifications, who were often treated brutally, with little food and shelter, no clothes and dreadful working conditions. Some were worked to their death. 

When Val Nelson, Senior Registrar at Jersey Heritage, pulled out today's object ... it made my skin crawl and my heart break...

50 Objects - No23 from Jersey Heritage Vimeo on Vimeo.

This was Object Number 23 and if you want to listen to Val talking about a couple of other objects which document the lives of the Operation Todt slave workers in Jersey you can also listen to Object 21 - a Russian Toy and Object 22 - Bill's cap.

If you want to listen to today's clip on the BBC Radio Jersey website click on the link below.

BBC Radio Jersey - Ashlea Tracey, 15/11/2019, 50 OBJECTS - the story of Jersey's Occupation and Liberation 1940-1945 told through 50 objects held by Jersey Heritage - Object 23 - 15 November 2019


Fearless & Free

This week I received my second COVID-19 vaccination. Which is amazing!

I wanted to mention it especially today, because April 24th is the start of the World Health Organisation's World Immunization Week. In the next week we're being reminded of the need to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. And at this time of a global pandemic it may have a more powerful message than ever before.

Covid thanks 2Here in Jersey the Government is cracking on wonderfully with getting everyone vaccinated against the dreadful virus and as a result, our coronavirus positive figures have plummeted.

We're still not out of the woods because as we relax some restrictions, and open our  borders to holidaymakers, other visitors and residents who want to leave the island, those numbers may go up again. However, with the protection of the vaccination I'm hopeful it will mean fewer losses.

There's no doubt that the past year has been awful. Not just for the lack of opportunities, loss of employment and 'freedoms' but also the loss of lives, among them some of my friends.

I'm also aware that Jersey and other countries like ours - relatively rich - are among the privileged in the world. SO many places on our planet are struggling to roll out vaccination programmes and to control the rise of COVID-19, especially with the different variants which are emerging. Which means that millions and millions of people are still unprotected, and still in danger.

So today, this week, I just want to thank everyone who has made vaccination possible, the scientists and visionaries who have fast tracked the creation of vaccines when usually all this takes many years.

SkyI want to say thank you to the Government of Jersey and all those who work and volunteer at our amazingly efficient Vaccination Centre at Fort Regent, the complex which sits above our harbour in our capital town of St Helier. From atop the hill you can see for miles across the town and the ocean - it's a sign of the wonderful life that's in store for us all.

And I pray that soon there will be equal distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines across the world, so that not just the privileged and rich nations will benefit, but everyone. The whole world deserves the privilege of the vaccine, the protection which comes with it, and the ability to move into the future fearless and free.

During World Immunization Week, especially, that message is so important! 

After having our vaccinations we are advised to sit quietly for 15 minutes, just to check we don't have any adverse reactions to the 'jab' and as I sat there this week, these words came to my mind ...

I am among the Privileged

On so many levels

But especially today

 

There are so many not so Honoured

On so many levels

Including today

 

So on this day 

I take nothing for granted

And trust that MY good fortune will  extend to others

TODAY

 

 


No News Today!

Many of you who regularly read this blog may know that for most of my working life I've been involved in the media business.

And for most of my adult life, news has been something I've been involved in - listened to, watched, written, read out for listeners and viewers, reported on in studios and on locations, investigated news stories and chatted to people making the news for whatever reason. I'm one of those people who when I awake in the morning I automatically reach for the radio and switch on, to catch the latest headlines and commentary.

The news recently, of course, has been dominated by the coronavirus - news of numbers, deaths, hospitalisations, vaccines - it's been relentless. And I have to say, even though I am by my own admission a bit of a 'news junkie', it has all become a bit overwhelming.

Prior to this pandemic, of course, here in the UK our news programmes and headlines were dominated for many many many months by ... yes ... BREXIT!  THAT also felt like a never-ending story! 

With our current rolling TV news channels, it does sometimes feel like it's just a constant barrage of relentless facts, figures, analysis, comment. Often things appear to happen really really slowly, so hour on hour it's the same thing over and over and over again, with obvious clutching at proverbial straws to try to 'freshen up' the newslines being delivered.

I know that for a lot of people this past year, especially, has been quite depressing. A lot have simply stopped watching and listening to the news and have just 'switched off'. I've read comments from so many people who've said that they are just 'fed up' of hearing the same news lines and the same people talking about the same things. And I sort of get it. 

The challenge to current news providers is always to try to keep people engaged, but there is something in the argument that some of the methods of modern news delivery are rather jaded.

You know what I'm talking about. 'Experts' and so-called 'correspondents' unpicking issues endlessly and telling us what they think about it all is one of my personal bug bears, I have to say. Having worked in the news for so long, I'm aware that to be an 'expert' in any particular area is something that often comes with much time and great effort. And I'm not sure these days that everyone who stands outside an important building spouting what they've probably just actually been told to say by their colleagues back in the newsroom are real 'experts'. It sort of diminishes the trust in 'specialists'.

One big challenge is how also to keep people engaged with the news without just delivering scary statistics and frighteners? That doesn't always work either. One way of making news come to 'life' is to turn to 'examples' of people who are living through it. But even that can get a bit jaded because often the stories are framed in the same way - sad looking person filmed doing something that doesn't really relate to what the story is about (making a cup of tea/pottering in the garden, walking in a field), a rather sad little interview with a serious looking reporter, followed by the sad person doing something also unrelated to the story (leafing through a book/looking pensively out of a window).

Part of the problem is that the person's story is always framed through the news story and by the 'line' that the reporter is aiming for, and in the time allotted to them ... usually a TV news story is all done and dusted and shoe-horned into under two minutes. Radio can allow more TIME to really explore a subject, but the truth is much of the news delivery these days feels rather rushed. SO many stories, all covered rather superficially and only really for the purpose of illustrating the top 'news line'.

The other thing that people have often asked me is why the 'news' is so often 'bad.' I've tried to explain in the past that actually it's because 'bad' stuff happens really quite infrequently, so that's why it's unusual and makes the news. But these days I'm not so convinced by my argument. Years ago there was a bit of a debate as to why 'good' news couldn't be more prominent in a bulletin. Especially on a 'slow' news day, why can't our news be full of 'good' news? People doing great things, people making a difference in their communities. And not just covered as your typical 'And Finally ...' story.

On BBC local radio at the moment there IS a move towards more 'good' community news stories. Some bulletins are featuring 'Make a Difference' stories which celebrates the brilliant people in our communities. It was part of what I did towards the end of my time at BBC Radio Jersey and it's a great development.

But sadly, I think I may have actually to create my own 'good news channel' if I want to hear more positive news stories. The mainstream news media DOES have challenges ahead, although how one fixes a broken model is another issue and one that will take more than my ramblings to sort out.

But why am I talking about this today?

Well it's because on this day - April 18th - in 1930, the BBC did have a very slow news day and something rather unusual happened.

It was before television, so this was radio news. 

BBC microphoneIt was 8.45pm and all over Great Britain people tuned it for the radio news but instead heard the announcer simply say these words...

“Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.” 

That was it. Then the rest of the 15-minute news segment was filled with some piano music.

Of course this was before the days of world media. And the BBC wasn't endowed with all the reporters and 'correspondents' we have today. In fact the BBC didn't create it's own news operation until 1934. It's really interesting to read about the early days of the BBC,  when their news gathering was rather constrained by the demands of the newspaper publishers who feared that broadcast bulletins would damage sales.

In those early days of the BBC - after the first news bulletin in November 1922 - they weren't allow to broadcast news before 7pm and the British government didn't allow the BBC to have its own reporters. They relied on stories and copy from the wire services like Reuters, the Press Association, the Central News, and the Exchange Telegraph Company, whose ‘tape’ machines spewed out their stories into the BBC News Room. The BBC news teams then chose what stories to run and by all accounts, they were determined only to choose the best stories. 

Obviously on April 18th 1930 there weren't enough good stories to make a bulletin!

I didn't grow up on this story ... it's something I learned about down the line. And I'm not sure that everyone who works for the BBC knows about it.  Some are aware and think it's just rather quirky. Click here to listen to a more modern take on what happened that day.

Even on a 'slow' news day, this would never happen today. Imagine if we switched on the BBC news channels to hear 'Good morning, everyone, today there is no real news for us to talk about, at least not sensibly. So we're just going to enjoy a film or some cartoons, or listen to some great music'.

Now ... THAT would be an interesting News Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My Love is Deeper

A week ago the world said 'farewell' to a great character.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, passed away at the grand old age of 99! Had he lived another eight or so weeks he would have turned 100. What a life! What a lifetime of experiences! 

My Dad always reminded us that he was six days older than the Prince ... and he was!

My Dad, Arthur Maitland Le Feuvre, was born on June 4th 1921 and Prince Philip on June 10th. But that was all they had in common really.

My own Dad died many years ago ... on May 17th 1985 ... taken far too soon at the age of 63. But he remains alive for me, in my heart, in my memory. No matter that I haven't seen him physically for so many years, his love for me and my love for him remains the same.

Today will be a tough day - perhaps the toughest yet - for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. After more than 73 years of marriage and more than that of love, she will lay her beloved husband to rest.  Because of the coronavirus restrictions which prevent crowds from gathering, it sounds like it will be a small and family affair in St George's Chapel in the family home - Windsor Castle. And perhaps that's how it should be.

I've been to Windsor many times, as I lived nearby for more than a decade, and it is a beautiful place. And I know that the 'locals' especially will want to be there to support her today, and I'm sure some will make that journey to the Castle to do so safely.

Now, whether you're a Royalist or not, you have to feel sympathy and sadness for the Queen and for the wider family. Even though the Prince lived such a long and active life, which I'm sure is to be celebrated, the loss of him will be deeply felt.

And so I, for one, am praying today for peace to fill the Queen's heart and soul. For her deep Christian faith to sustain her at this difficult time, and for her to know that she is supported and upheld not just by her family and friends, and the people in her own town, but by many around the world. Those who know her and knew the Prince and the many millions who do not and did not.

Yes, the Duke was a Prince and his family are Royal but ultimately they are all human beings and this time of bereavement will affect them as grief affects us all. That dreadful empty feeling of loss and grief which seems to suck the life out of you at times. So today I also pray for the Duke's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and all those knew him and loved him, not as a leader or an iconic royal figure, but as a Dad, grandad, great grandfather, friend, boss. 

'Grief' is something which affects us all differently. It can prevent us moving forward, to be always looking back.  For some, it appears to have little effect, but I would argue even those who put on a brave face will know the suffering of bereavement, even if they don't wish to show it to the world. It is the human condition.

But over the years, since I lost my own darling Dad, I've learned that even though those we love may no longer be alongside us, and once the gut-wrenching sorrow has begun to dissipate just a little, even if it never entirely leaves us, there comes a point when we can smile again at the memory of those whom we have loved. They continue to enhance our lives, continue to make us the people we are and are yet to be, and they and their memory continue to fill our hearts with love and joy.

So today I just leave you with a thought that seems to express this a bit better than I can...

Grief

 


A Day to Say Thanks

March 23 2020 - a significant day in the history of the UK.

Any idea why?

Well it was exactly a year ago that the British people found themselves in lockdown ... for the first time!

With COVID-19 figures rising, it was on this day last year that the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and announced a 'stay at home' order. For weeks people had been 'asked' to try to keep safe, sanitise, social distance, stay indoors where possible, but now it was an order! 

Mr Johnson described the pandemic as 'the biggest threat this country has faced for decades' and of course it wasn't just the UK that was affected. This new coronavirus was then, and still is, a global threat. This time last year we could not have predicted the devastation it would bring to all our lives, our economies, our culture.

To try to cut the spread of the virus, from March 23 2020 people were only allowed to go out for shopping for necessities - most shops were closed. People could leave home to seek medical care and limited daily exercise, but that was pretty much it. Where possible we were asked to work from home. No mixing of households, no meeting friends or family members who we didn't live with. No gatherings, no social events - so no church, weddings, baptisms and very limited numbers for funerals.

Over the past year the British people have now experienced quite a number of lockdowns or versions of them, depending on where you live.

Here in Jersey, our first lockdown began about a week after the 'mainland' UK's, but the experience was just as harsh. Businesses closed, hospitality closed, lives closed down, people getting sick, some dying, health services stretched to the limit of endurance.

And today, some of us are still working from home, and only now that the COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out are we beginning to see considerable decline in positive coronavirus numbers.

However, it's not all doom and gloom because when the nation, and our island, entered that first lockdown and so much stopped, what BEGAN was an outpouring of friendship, support, love and community.

People offered to do their neighbour's shopping when they went for their own. Walked dogs for those who could not get out because they were isolating. Sewed masks and scrubs, creating them out of spare material and even sheets and tablecloths, at a time when there was a world shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) even for those heroes on the medical frontline, those men and women who nursed desperately ill and dying people around the clock under sometimes unbearable and stressful conditions.

Remember the 'Clap for Carers'? That weekly moment at 8pm on a Thursday? Many of us applauded, banged pots and played musical instruments on the street (socially distanced, of course) just to say 'THANK YOU' to the nurses, doctors, care workers. And then, a bit later, we clapped also to show our appreciation to all those who kept our communities working while most of us isolated at home - street cleaners, shop workers, emergency service personnel, charity workers, all those who, actually, were putting their lives on the line so that WE could stay safe.

Down the months the kindnesses rolled on. Here in Jersey, a brilliant Facebook page called 'Jersey Acts of Kindness' was created to share the love. Rainbows started appearing in windows and on the sides of roads. Thousands of rainbows, many of them drawn by children, with the word 'thank you' often embedded in the image. Here in Jersey, pebbles decorated with rainbows and flowers and 'thank you' often popped up unexpectedly.

Foodbanks provided essentials for those who couldn't cope, those who has lost their jobs or were 'furloughed' and were not earning as much as usual and so were struggling to put food on the family table. In Jersey, our foodbank was hosted by The Salvation Army. Hundreds of individuals and families donated food and other essential supplies, out of work people gave their time to sort and distribute parcels, many donated and raised funds. It was phenomenal response.

Talking of fundraisers ... we all remember Capt (later Sir) Tom Moore, who raised nearly £33million pounds for the English National Health Service, walking up and down in his garden as he approached his 100th birthday. In Jersey people also walked around their yards, did challenges at home, climbed up and down ladders, created online choirs to raise money for charity.  And so it went on. And on. And on.

Throughout the year on BBC local stations we've been tracking all the 'Make a Difference' stories, and it's been wonderful. Charting first the stories of those who helped in the midst of lockdown and now, also, featuring those individuals and groups who are consistently creating opportunities for others, making life better for our world, sharing love and kindnesses every day.

Most of us have someone we could thank today, for their support during that first lockdown and, indeed, across last year.

So today, across the BBC network, there's a day-long reflection on lockdown. At 12noon today we are remembering in silence on all stations all those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus (69 people in Jersey so far) . We will broadcast features about all the wonderful people who made life better for others in the last year. It's called 'BBC Make a Difference Thank You Day'.

I've spent the last week or so listening back to interviews and features transmitted over the past 12 months, and have re-edited and re-mixed to create new audio features for broadcast on BBC Radio Jersey today. And I have been humbled and inspired by those who are, in my opinion, heroes in our midst. 

Today we all have an opportunity to write and ring in to our local BBC radio station to say a personal THANK YOU to those who cared for us, who showed kindness, helped us, looked after our wellbeing even at the risk of their own.

So ... here are my personal 'Thank Yous' on this day.

Thank you March 23Thanks to the staff at my local supermarket who opened the doors early so that those of us isolating at home could go out to do their weekly 'shop' without feeling too much stress.

Thanks to the health professionals who cared for some of my friends, many of them in intensive care, and some of them right through to the end of life!

Thanks to my work colleagues for enabling me to work from home so I could stay safe, especially as I care for an elderly parent. And thanks to my brother Tim for sharing that responsibility and just being brilliant.

Thanks to those who also 'stayed safe' to try to prevent the virus from spreading. OK, so in the autumn here in Jersey lots of people forgot the need for caution and, in fact, behaved irresponsibly which meant we went into another lockdown over Christmas and well into this year, but I want to stay positive and be grateful for those who DID stick to the rules. 

Thanks to the local Contact Tracing team who worked tirelessly, especially during our Christmas/New Year lockdown when, thanks to those who partied in the autumn, our COVID-19 positive numbers rose to over 1,000 - and that's in an island population of just over 100,000! I've recently had experience of the local Contact and Trace team's efficiency and I could not be more grateful for their diligence.

And thanks to the Government of Jersey and all those who are rolling out the local COVID-19 vaccine programme which means that our numbers are now very low (just three at the time of writing this) and we can see light at the end of this very long coronavirus tunnel.

Although we know we will live with this dreadful virus for many years to come, I am confident that we will emerge eventually and although we may be battered and bruised in many respects, we will all hopefully be changed, and for the better. 

Because if those kindnesses and the love and compassion and care we have felt and witnessed over this past 12 months are the legacy of lockdown ... that has to be a good thing ... right?

 

 

 


Be Happy!

Are you feeling happy today? Be happy

I hope so ... because today is ... the International Day of Happiness !

This is not just something that some whacky person thought up on the spur of the moment to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It's part of a growing recognition at the highest level that happiness is very important to the human condition and to the progress of our cultures and societies and even our economies.

It is the United Nations International Day of Happiness. Back in July 2011 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”. In other words, to progress as a global community it's not enough to have economic success. We should also be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing.

WOW!

All 193 members of the UN adopted the resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority, and International Day of Happiness has been celebrated around the world since 2013. Every year a World Happiness Report is published on March 20th, which is always a great opportunity to see where YOUR country lies in the 'list' of happy countries, or not so happy nations, as the case may be.

But it's not just about governments. Happiness is down to each one of us. In ourselves and in our communities.

Every year on the International Day of Happiness, we're invited to take some positive steps to help create happiness. But perhaps THIS year it's even more important than before.

After the year we've had with the coronavirus pandemic, it's easy to feel rather depressed isn't it? Many of us have struggled with our mental health, what with all the lockdowns and personal and economic/business challenges we've experienced. Some of us have struggled to stay happy, and I think for some of us, our concept of happiness might have changed. 

Maybe in the past we thought we were happy when we were travelling, going to parties, buying stuff, being recognised, having career success, promotion and status. Perhaps these days we're happy just with a walk in the countryside or on the beach. Seeing members of our family with whom we've have little contact for months. Just knowing we are staying safe and our loved ones are well. For me, these concepts and feelings have replaced much of the 'doing and having' happiness of the past.

And today, as we think about the International Day of Happiness, we've got lots of help to refocus our minds.

This year the group Action for Happiness, which is a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations, is reminding us to Keep Calm. Stay Wise. Be Kind.

  • Keeping calm will always take the pressure off. We're reminded that there are so many things outside of our control, but if we remember to focus on what really matters to us, the stresses may reduce. 
  • Making wise choices will help. We'll improve our own well-being and that of others around us if we choose positivity and positive thinking and actions, rather than negative ones.
  • Yesterday we were thinking about being kind to each other. Action for Happiness also encourage us to keep in touch with others and reach out to help people in need. To 'stay connected'
 
So ... question is ... what makes us happy? How can we stay happy and encourage and promote happiness?

Here are some more ideas from the International Day of Happiness website which has 10 great points to help us develop happiness, especially in these coronavirus times...

  • Let's stick together (to beat covid)
  • Follow World Health Organisation (WHO) advice
  • Attend a Happiness Day event (virtually)
  • Stay Social (online)
  • Be Kind, share and say 'Thank you'
  • Stay active and be mindful
  • Be optimistic, positive and resilient 
  • Stay informed about facts and news
  • Enjoy nature
  • Adopt 'HAPPYTALISM' .. which is all about thinking of ways we can change systems to ensure we never again have such an awful pandemic. It's about looking at new economic models and, as the United Nations resolution encourages to do, to think of the well-being of people as much as we think about economic success

Don't you love that ... HAPPYTALISM rather than CAPITALISM?

On this International Day we have a whole 24 hours to think about happiness but hopefully, if we're just starting out on this journey, what we learn today will transform tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.

And .. for those of you who know me well, you might have guessed already that I have song for you ... and it IS an obvious one. Love this song!

Happy International Day of Happiness !

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

be kind.png

We’re all in this together, even when we’re forced apart. Let’s stay connected and reach out to help others who may be in need.

 
 

Pandemic - a year on

It's March 11th ... and it's EXACTLY a year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Not just an epidemic but a pandemic! 

Not just a rapid spreading of a disease within a population, but an epidemic which is spreading across many countries, across the world. And quickly!

We'd been hearing about coronavirus since the end 0f 2019. Cases in China, cases emerging in other locations and countries. Mid-February, cases and deaths growing in numbers in Northern Italy.

On March 11th 2020 the WHO cited over 118,000 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus  in over 110 countries and territories around the world. They predicted ongoing and sustained risk of global spread.

At the time, the World Health Organisation's Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this:

“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector. So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fights.”

It was official. The world was in a pandemic. We are still in that pandemic.

I'm not going to go over everything that's happened since. I just feel I need to mark the spot really. 

Millions of people have died across the world .. as I'm writing this those numbers are over two and a half million. Globally, over 116 million have contracted the virus. And the numbers still rise - you can follow the daily global figures via the WHO numbers dashboard.

And these are not just faceless 'numbers'. Some of us have lost dear family and friends.

To contain the spread of the virus, most of us have adhered to strict living restrictions and 'lockdown' ... a word we hardly knew this time last year.  We've worn masks, sanitised, kept our distance, not gathered in groups, missed out on meeting even our close family members. Members of our medical professions and those who are responsible for keeping our community going day-to-day have done so sometimes to the detriment of their own health. 

Manufacturing , hospitality, service industries, shops, offices, transport systems, travel - just some of the sectors badly affected. Some will never recover.  Many have lost their jobs, many of us have worked from home for nigh on a year now. Life has changed out of all proportion.

Covid signsBut now, thanks to the brilliant efforts of the world's scientists, we have vaccines. And although, unfortunately they are not being rolled out equally across the world, distribution has begun. 

We know that vaccines won't 'eradicate' the coronavirus - experts say it is here to stay. The jabs don't 'cure' people from COVID-19 but the vaccine does, it appears, limit the effects. We are already beginning to see a slow down of deaths from the disease, although it is very very slow.

And being vaccinated doesn't mean we will be completely free to do whatever we want, go wherever we want.  In fact some say the 'new normal' will require ongoing restrictions to our behaviour, especially as the virus mutates and takes different forms.

Here in Jersey in the Channel Islands we are coming up to the anniversary of the first COVID-19 positive test. We've lost nearly 70 dear people. And our community and commerce has been badly affected.

But there is optimism in the air.

Covid vax cathyThe Government of Jersey is rolling out an excellent vaccination programme and I am privileged to have already received my first dose. Not because I'm 'vulnerable' but because I really am that old!

So today ... I remember those who are lost and those who are grieving. I remember those who are affected in so many ways, including physically, emotionally and financially. I thank those who have kept us safe, those who have nursed us, served us throughout this past year, distributed food parcels, ensured our island has kept it's head above water.

And today, I give thanks for the vaccine, and hope and trust that everyone across the world will soon have access to it, regardless of their economic or social status and the country in which they happen to reside. Only when the whole world is able to be vaccinated will the world begin to be a safer place.

 

 


Believe in Your Dreams

Have you got a dream? Or dreams?

Something you'd like to achieve in life? 

Maybe it's a new business or career? Perhaps it's related to your health and wellbeing, and maybe even your weight?

Perhaps it's a bit more 'spiritual' than that? You'd love to have some 'inner peace', not so much stress and anguish? Maybe you'd like to get to a point where you don't constantly compare yourself to others, and just learn to be happy with yourself and with where YOU are headed, in your time?

During the past year, and the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, we've experienced not just lockdown but also, some of us, loss of loved ones and loss of employment, or loss of self confidence because we've been mostly at home, working from home and not interacting with society or work colleagues.

That might have stifled our dreams. We might have got into a mindset where we can't think beyond this moment, we can't project ourselves even into a short term future. Or we might feel frustrated that some of the things we had hoped for in this past year haven't happened, and many of the dreams we have for the future feel unattainable.

I'm one of the fortunate people in life. I come from a really inspiring family. My parents were inspiring but quiet pioneers in their field, as Christian leaders. And I have three brothers, all of who are brilliant.  They have supported me down the years and continue to do so even though I know I can be a bit random in my decision making. 

Today my quote comes from very close to home, from my brother Tim, who is a motivational person par excellence.

During the pandemic, especially, he's been such inspirational model for me. When he couldn't work face-to-face with his clients as a personal trainer he reinvented his work life and is now not only helping people with their physical fitness but also their mindset and emotional wellbeing. He helps people lose weight and feel better about themselves but in the process also helps with the whole body and mind experience.

SO - a blatant unashamed plug here ... if you want to find out more ... I know Tim would love to hear from you. Why not go to Tim's Facebook page -  Tim Le Feuvre | Facebook  to see if he can help? 

Or ... just be inspired by this quote ... 

Tim believe in your dreams

 

 


A Wave of Prayer

Happy Friday everyone!

Did you know ... today is the World Day of Prayer?

Now, if you're a female of the species you may be aware of this day ... previously it was known as the 'Women's World Day of Prayer' where millions and millions and millions of woman across the globe prayed on a specific theme, for 24 hours. I've been part of this day for a very long time, including attending special church services and gatherings. The best thing about this day is that it's all people, from so many different churches and traditions, coming together in one purpose.

People in more than 170 countries celebrate The Day of Prayer. It all begins in Samoa in the central South Pacific Ocean, and it moves eastwards, with prayers and services held in native languages throughout Australasia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas before finishing in American Samoa (on the other side of the International Date Line from Samoa) 39 hours later.

It's a day-long Wave of Prayer across the world!

That's very special. Knowing that you are praying with others, on the same theme, is really powerful.

Although it was and is still mostly women who mark the day, men and boys were never excluded. And just a few years ago the name was changed, with the word 'Women's' taken off the start of the title to represent the inclusivity of the day for Christians internationally.

So what happens today?

Well, every year follows a theme, and a group of Christian women from somewhere in the world is selected to write resources  with prayers, songs, readings and stories on the chosen theme. It's always a culturally exciting time as people, for instance, in the UK will experience what has been prepared for them by fellow Christians maybe across the other side of the world.

Last year, for example, we all enjoyed a service prepared for us by people in Zimbabwe in Africa. Each nation brings its own culture to it's contribution, sharing their own stories and experiences, so this is not just about prayer and faith but it's also a bit of an education about other cultures.

Which brings me to this year - 2021.

Where is VanuatuBy the time this daily blog is published at 0800 GMT (London time) women will have been praying already for many hours on the theme of 'Build on a Strong Foundation', prepared for us by the Christian women of the island of Vanuatu in the south Pacific Ocean.

Of course this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the prayer resources which the Vanuatu faithful have prepared will not be used in many church buildings, but there will be thousands upon thousands of online services and 'gatherings'. Here in Jersey, the World Day of Prayer service is at 1.30pm lunchtime and it will be hosted online by St Paul's Church in St Helier. 

However, it's not all doom and gloom because in addition to resources produced for today, you can also enjoy a fabulous mix of music, readings, prayers and stories online from Vanuatu and other people across the world.

And it's all on Youtube ...

Today people around the world will be thinking about how to 'Build on a Strong Foundation' and in the press release from the UK WDP (World Day of Prayer) Committee, the thinking behind the day was explained...

Women of the Republic of Vanuatu (located in the South Pacific Ocean) have prepared this year’s service. The black and white sandy beaches, coral reefs with coloured fishes, lovely birds, fruits and nuts in the forest, all make the islands a pristine environment but they are vulnerable to frequent tropical storms, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and active volcanoes. Women, men and children of all ages are called to ‘Build on a strong foundation’ and live in unity, love and peace in the context of ethnic and cultural diversity like Vanuatu and so many other places around the world.

On this World Day of Prayer there will be opportunities to learn about the island nation of Vanuatu, and all the prayers will focus on creation and construction and the importance of building something solid, not just physically but also spiritually. 'Structures' that can stand against the trials and storms of life. And once again we will be encouraged to think about how we, as humanity, can learn to live together despite our many differences and circumstances.

But then, we'll be encouraged to continue praying, because although today is special, prayer is something we may do every day. And the learning can continue too because now you've heard about it,  you might want to check out the World Day of Prayer (UK) website, where among other things there are some great activities for children (and all of us) including making sand paintings, and cooking up a batch of coconut cake.

So I'm just off to the kitchen. I fancy a bit of that.

Have a happy, and prayerful day!