Great Britain

Writer spreading kindness in a Covid world to show how much people matter

IF we had been told on New Year’s Eve 2019: Enjoy the next 12 weeks because come March schools will close the gates, pubs and restaurants’ curtains will be drawn and live music venues and theatres will be told the show must not go on… and on top of that there will be no hugs allowed.

Never has the world needed a big “hug” than in these uncharted waters, and it has been that that has inspired a man with his roots in County Durham, to put pen to paper and record acts of goodwill in a book called A Pocketful of Kindness.

Ian Donaghy, originally from Tow Law in County Durham, and a dementia campaigner and conference speaker, realised the venues he usually fills with delegates such as Excel in London and Harrogate Conference Centre were now Covid-19 Nightingale Hospitals.

The Northern Echo:

One of the illustrations from the book

Ian said: “As one of the key objective voices in the world of social care, everything I did had disappeared.

Like many I work from a finish line backwards, so I needed to create a finish line..not just a raison d’etre but a raison d’aider to help people in this difficult time so after transforming the garden and doing some pretty shoddy decorating I reflected on what was important in this new complex yet strangely simplified world.”

Ian started writing stories drawing on his experiences growing up and teaching in the North-East, working in dementia care, working with young people with learning difficulties, his time working in crime reduction for the Home Office and in being a musician for 30 years in the North-East and his current home town of York.

The book features short stories, monologues and chapters championing the virtues and power kindness has had in transforming people’s lives.

Featuring stories about when Sir Bobby Robson showed his generosity when he visited Tow law, making a dementia awareness campaign with Barry McGuigan and an army of selfless people you will never have heard of but will want to meet.

The Northern Echo:

Ian Donaghy’s dad, Charlie, and Sir Bobby in action together

The book also features many stories about his own father, Charlie Donaghy, who the book is dedicated to.

Ian said: “It covers everything from making a 94 year old man’s dream come true by scoring in front of 8,000 supporters to giving people who live alone the Christmas they deserve.

“With stories that celebrate nurses, care workers and the power of community showing it shows that not all heroes wear capes.”

The idea attracted the attention of award-winning Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband who provided a cartoon for the book.

The Northern Echo:

Cartoonist from Private Eye contributed this artwork to the book

The idea behind the book is that you gift it to someone who has made an impact in your life with their acts of kindness who may not realise it. A number of companies have bought bespoke versions of the book, with the company logo, to show their employees how appreciated they are.

Ian said: “We need to appreciate one another more. Often we only get feedback if somebody is making a complaint.

“The stories, all beautifully illustrated, will make you laugh, cry and think in equal measure.”

The Northern Echo:

Musician Kieran White pictured with a story where he transformed a lady with dementia

The book has been edited by Northern Arts critic Charles Hutchinson. The book, priced £12, is available from bigian.co.uk and has proved popular – selling 2,000 copies in two weeks.

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