Today’s challenge is to tell us about the most surprising helping hand you’ve ever received.
I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of helping hands over the years but the most surprising one came at a period in my life when I was very down on my luck. It was 1992, I’d been living in a Salvation Army hostel for women with my two-year-old daughter for a few months when I finally managed to get on my feet enough to find a place to rent.
We moved in with our very meagre possessions – a small suitcase full of clothes each. And a beanbag, which was our bed for the first few weeks.
I was working full-time (in a voluntary capacity) at the local community radio station at the time, and a lovely older lady, Nan Walsh, cared for Emma through the day. Nan Walsh lived in a big house opposite the mouth of the river, and looked after children in the downstairs part of the house and lived upstairs. There was plenty of company for Emma, masses of toys to play with, books to read, good food and loads of warmth from Nan Walsh and her old-lady friends.
I’d finish work, pick Emma up and trudge home to our little unit that had no furniture in it apart from a bean bag that was both a bed and a couch – and a play area, a launching pad, an elephant. We had a bowl, a plate, a knife and fork, and a spoon. I think we also had a cup. I’d cadged those from the radio station.
Things were pretty bleak … but not for too long.
Trixie, who worked at the Salvation Army hostel, gave me an old single bed and a mattress. Emma was excited to sleep in a proper bed again.
Neil, the breakfast presenter at the radio station, was getting his mother’s old lounge suite and so he needed to pass his on. Generously he passed it on to me.
Sheridan, the manager of the radio station, gifted me a cutlery set that she’d been given as a wedding present twenty years before. They’d been given two and she felt that she no longer needed the second one. It had never been used.
Nan Walsh dug through her cupboards and found some towels, tea towels and sheets she could live without.
These people were generous and good and have no idea of the impact they made on my life.
Then one afternoon the doorbell rang. On the doorstep was a boxed crockery set and two shopping bags full of food, including a still hot barbecue chicken, fruit and vegetables, and some new tea towels. I looked out to the street to see an old lady walking briskly to her car. I dumbly waved my thanks.
Aren’t people amazing?