"It is hard indeed, some might say impossible, to do important things in life and not feel important for having done them! Most of us possess egos that are bigger than ourselves and find it hard to keep our heads down low when others praise our name.
When I was almost twelve, I incurred a serious traffic accident which threatened my life and then prevented my ability to walk for three years. During my hour at death's door, I promised God that if I lived I would try to make my life one for the good and service of others. God kept his part of the bargain and I have genuinely tried to honour mine ever since.
Over the years, I have always performed voluntary work in one capacity or another, and have allowed all profit from the sale of my book publications to be given to charitable causes, believing that in about the same degree that we are helpful, so will we be happy. I have always been assisted in this regard by the ongoing help of literally hundreds of people.
As securing regular press coverage was very important in the beginning to advance the charitable work we did, it became necessary and easier if I became the front man. As the front man, it was I who invariably became the person most lauded and praised through the media. And despite all efforts of me publicly praising the hard work of numerous others in any success we achieved every time I was interviewed by a media source, the names of others were rarely mentioned after editing had taken place. It was my name and my photograph that appeared in the press; it was me who was interviewed by the local radio and television channels, and me who was awarded a medal in the 1995 New Year's Honour's List and shook the Queen's hand.
My 15 years of visiting schools daily, and the promotion of many social causes I wanted to raise awareness of, could never have been done without the help of so many backroom workers and nearly 900 national and international celebrities. The musical play I wrote and produced with Lottery money and which is freely accessible to any school globally was only made possible by the two-years' hard work of eight dedicated people who worked alongside me throughout on the 'Mirfield Anger Management Committee' (MAMMA). We have the same unselfish commitment today in all walks of life; the hidden backroom workers who remain unseen by the public yet give freely of their time in the Charity Shops we enter. The thousands of volunteers; these unnamed heroes are the people who truly deserve the praise and everlasting gratitude of society. I have long ago ceased to be amazed by the unstinting generosity of so many good people in the world.
As a child, my mother acted as the best example of kindness I have ever known. I never knew her to give less of herself than was asked for and grew up watching her always give more than was expected. My father, who played football as a young man for Ireland, was (unlike me), the most modest man I ever knew. Throughout his life, he kept his light under a bushel and it was only years after his death that his family discovered how good and respected a man he'd been regarded in Kilkenny; the town where he was born.
In marked contrast, I grew up in a different age and soon realised that if I wanted my influence and charitable work to be as extensive as possible, it would be better achieved if I learned to cultivate the press, maximise ongoing publicity, meet famous people and obtain their help, endorsement and support for my writings, charitable causes, and published books.
At the height of my localised fame of having become a big fish in a small pond (between 1990 and 2003), I vaingloriously started to believe my own publicity, and for a brief while, I lost sight of my original goal; to advance a particular cause and not myself. I needed to relearn that one only ever truly becomes a person who does things that count after they've stopped being a person who counts them.
If I think hard and true, I know that it is the poor who have always given the most and it is those many millions of good neighbours and seemingly 'insignificant' folk who make the greatest difference to the world we live in: not the ones who are forever in the press like I used to be, but those modest souls who prefer to work below the radar and who give inconspicuously and receive no medals for their goodness. Such are the ones with the biggest hearts and I salute them one and all. They are truly kind to the core; simply the best kind of person there is.
It was only after having given large sums of money to charitable causes from the sales of my published books that I came to realise that my words and beliefs mattered more to others than any material wealth I ever gave. I came to realise that wherever 'goodness' exists, it comes from not sharing ones riches, but revealing to others their own. That is why I will spend an hour or more of every day for the rest of my life on my 'Thought for today''. I now know that is where I can be the most helpful and influential through the sharing of my strengths and weaknesses; in what I have done and what I have failed to do. In this manner, I may make my eventual death as hopefully meaningful as the life that preceded it, and if I can make the life and death of just one person more at ease with them in the process, I will be well satisfied.
One of my favourite writers was the poet Alexander Pope. I think the fact he had a crippled body initially spurred me to identify with him. Yet, crippled in body, he wrote the most beautiful of words that resonated strongly with me and demonstrated the finest of thought. In his Epilogue to Satires (1738), he achieved in ten words what I have just taken hundreds to illustrate: 'Do good by stealth and blush to find its fame.'" William Forde: January 28th, 2018.