20 January

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

If you were asked what you give, what would you answer? Money or goods donated to charity? Time as a volunteer? Love and support to your family and friends? At least some if not all of those I hope. But there is more to giving.

About this time last year my husband and I were fortunate enough to go to Australia for a couple of months. We had a wonderful time and were sad to return back to the grey late winter of the UK. We had been talking about downsizing over the next year or two as our children grew up and left home and suddenly the world was our oyster. We researched the visa requirements for retirement to Australia. After a short while it became clear that whilst we could retire to Australia it would mean that we would hardly see our children and hopefully our grandchildren. That was not in the plan so we reigned in and looked closer to home. For months we researched areas in the UK and Europe. We wanted light, warmth and preferably somewhere near the sea.

The more we looked the less enthusiastic we became. We love the village in which we have lived for over 20 years. This is where we put down roots, this is where we brought up our daughters. Just before Christmas, on a cold wet Saturday evening I made a quick dash out to our local co-op. It was tipping with rain and even with a jacket on I was soaked before I even got to the shop. There are a small set of steps between the car park and the shops and seeing me coming a young man waited at the bottom of the steps in the rain to let me dash past.

I thanked him and he smiled and said “Nae bother,” and went on his way.

I came home and said I had made a decision I wanted to stay in the north east and more precisely I wanted to stay in our village. That young man in two words, made me realise what I would miss if I left. That was a far greater gift than any monetary donation I could make to a charity.

Giving isn’t always about handing something over or even being generous or supportive. It is about being kind, being thoughtful, and being kind and thoughtful all the time. You will never know how much you have given. But the people who received your gifts will remember them for the rest of their lives.