In celebration of my 100th post, I have a special story for you. So grab a cuppa and a biscuit or three, and read on..........................
You may remember that during the 1990's I worked for our local newspaper, the Lincolnshire Echo.
Each December, the Echo would raise awareness and funds for a particular charity. Some local, some national.
During the troubles in the former Yugoslavia, we were approached to run a campaign for the British troops stationed there.
To boost morale we asked local residents to donate a shoe box filled with useful items, such as toiletries, writing pads, and sweets.
The boxes were to be gift wrapped, marked male or female, and dropped off at our offices. We then loaded the presents into trucks to be delivered to our troops in time for Christmas.
We wondered if we would reach our target. How could we doubt our readers' generosity? Thousands of presents were donated all over our fair county!
It wasn't only our troops who benefited from these good deeds, and I learned a very important lesson - goodwill is contagious and can even be addictive.
One particular elderly couple came in every single week, donating a total of eight gifts. Mr and Mrs B each filled a box - one for a man and one for a woman. They came in every Friday morning, and over the four week period, the wrappings and decorations on the boxes became more and more elaborate.
On their last visit to our offices, they were beaming!
"Have a lovely Christmas. You only had to donate one gift, you know," I said, giving them both a hug as I thanked them.
Mr B. looked at me, and said in his lovely Lincolnshire accent,
"D'ya know what, lass? We've no family, so we only usually wrap presents for each other. We've bin wrapping these boxes ev'ry Thursday night, reg'lar as clockwork. We made it a sort of game, like. 'Who could wrap the nicest parcel'. The missus and me 'ave really enjoyed doin' it!"
A couple of months later, I was sad to see in the Obituaries that Mr B. had passed away. I had a little weep and decided to go to the funeral. Mr B. had mentioned that they'd no family, so I was expecting the Church to be half empty.
How wrong I was - there were at least a hundred people in attendance. Mrs B. insisted that I join them afterwards for "a cup of tea and a ham sandwich," and I spoke to some of the mourners.
I heard story after story of how Mr B. had helped his neighbours over the years. There were tales of washing machine repairs, lifts to hospital, and shopping for new mums. Mr B. would definitely be missed!
As we were all leaving, I offered my condolences to Mrs B. and asked if there anything I could do.
She looked at me with a wicked little smile on her face,
"You don't know anyone who could make use of 8 pairs of men's shoes, do you, lass?"
Noticing the puzzled look on my face, she asked,
"Where else did you think we got the boxes from?"