A couple of weeks ago, while we were waiting to see whether the invasion that has now captured the world’s attention would happen, I watched a film with my Mum and Dad called Munich, the Edge of War. Reenactments of scenes so similar to those we are now seeing played out in live time (the images of fathers putting their families on safe trains have affected me above all others) made us shudder, and feel so very, very sad. I work with a wonderful young woman called Amy who has recently turned seventeen. The first thing she said to me when I saw her last week was “I’m really worried about what’s happening in the Ukraine.” The same sadness descended once again.
One of my favourite phrases is “Actions speak louder than words.” I was so impressed by the campaign featured in last week’s paper, spearheaded by local jewellers David Rowe and Paulina Wieczorek. I called Jim Parker on Monday to ask if there was anything I could do to help, and he told me that the response has been so amazing that the appeal has been put on hold for a while. I called my old school, Churston Grammar, to ask what they are doing, and the answer gave me hope. By the time this paper reaches the shelves, pupils and staff will have paid £1 each to take part in a non uniform day. They will all have worn something yellow and blue, in solidarity with our Ukrainian cousins. They will also have held a bake sale to raise further funds. All donations will be transferred to the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), which supports organisations working on the ground in war torn countries around the world.
Another impressive young person in my life, Chloe Pavely, who owns and runs the cafe at beautiful Fishcombe cove in Brixham, has been helping to raise funds to support a friend taking a van load of much needed items donated by the people of Dawlish to the Ukrainian border this week. A Churston parent is planning the same trip, and students have been donating much needed items that he will transport. Local organisation Beyond Borders continues to work to welcome and support refugees who find themselves setting up new homes in a foreign land.
Perhaps you feel helpless, but there are ways that we can help. If everyone in the bay gave just £1 to help organisations on the ground, we could make lives turned upside down a little less agonising. We can be kind to any Russian people we might meet, remembering that so many of them object to this war, and that those who support it have been told things that simply aren’t true. We can take heart in the happy surprises coming out of this tragedy: the fundraising appeal the Daily Mail has been running and the actions of Roman Abramovich have been two of mine. It’s easy to be cynical and scoff at wording and reasoning, but what good does that actually do? I believe that we need to help each other, and especially the young people in our lives, who have already been through so much in the last few years, to have faith in the goodness of the human spirit. I hope you’re doing OK, and that you manage to find joy in the coming week. I feel more and more lucky with each passing day that I get to call this beautiful place my home.
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