"On this day, the eve of the New Year, it is perhaps not surprising that one's mind turns to years gone by. Many of you will make New Year resolutions, only to see them broken long before spring. Why not make this year's resolution one that is not only easier to keep, but will serve you better in the long run. My mother once told me that we all have a song to sing, so this year 'Be prepared to sing your song' and make that your New Year's resolution.
I grew up listening to my mother sing her Irish songs all day long. I would like to say that she had a sweet voice; one that commanded your immediate attention and instant adulation, but that would be stretching the truth too far. Despite being a wonderful mum and having a beautiful face and the most generous of hearts, mum was probably the worse singer I ever heard. Like Les Dawson, she sang all the right notes but in the wrong order!
I once berated mum for her caterwauling one day after my ears had been assaulted by one of her songs and told her that she couldn't sing for toffee. I will never forget her reply: 'Billy, just because you can't sing doesn't mean you haven't the right to sing. Everyone alive has a song to sing and I have as much right as anyone else to sing my song. The birds sing, not because they can, but because they have a song to sing!'
Mum was right as usual. If everyone started off their day singing, the world would be a much happier place. If every person truthfully expressed their feelings and stood up for their values, the world would be a more understanding place.
My mother was an eternal dreamer and she also branded me one. Her favourite song which she sang out of tune daily as she worked about the house will remain forever in my ears. Ironically, it was sung by a woman who later became a good friend of mine and was to help me many times with my charitable work in later life; the Forces Sweetheart, the great Dame Vera Lynn singing 'Far Away Places.' My mother would have been so thrilled to learn that her eldest child and her favourite singer eventually became friends. Love you mum. Wish that I could hear you sing this song of yours today. Happy New Year. Bill x" William Forde: 31st, December, 2015.