Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed each Thursday evening at 8:00 pm millions of people across the land open their doors and windows and collectively register their appreciation for our dedicated NHS and Care Home staff and Community associated workers. Each Thursday evening at the appointed hour, we demonstrate our support by clapping, cheering, singing and making 'we're with you' noises.
It is only right we give such grateful recognition to all these workers and dedicated public servants of our essential services, but it would be both remiss and hypocritical of us as a caring and thankful society when this pandemic crisis has passed if we forget the significant personal sacrifices made by these heroes in our daily lives.
From everything I have heard and read over recent months, it ha reminded me of the Chris Rea song, 'The Road To Hell'.Though all our lives have been turned upside down these past months, the only consolation that the citizens of the world can draw some comfort from is the knowledge that every country faces the same virus pandemic, and that they are not alone during their national struggles.
Similarly, comfort also comes for the individual in Great Britain through our awareness that we are not alone and that we fight this crisis together unless we lay down, give up and give in to it and don't fight it at all!
But if we stay together in our resolve to beat this pernicious virus that pervades and poisons our presence and way of life, we can be sure of one thing. We shall win through and will see and experience society being able to mix and socialise more freely with family and friends once more.
Like those before us in Great Britain, after the 'Second World War' was over, the initial celebration for those who lived through the battle will be more soberly followed by a pilgrimage of pathos; where sadness and fond remembrance will hold hands above the ground where the fallen lie buried.
Relatives who'd been unable to be at the side of their loved ones as they fell in struggle or attend their funeral service will experience a process of delayed grieving when they eventually visit their loved one's grave.
When the time arrives that this pandemic has been conquered, as it most surely will, we will need to make amends and suitable reparations as a society as a whole, to all those people who we wronged in the past by failing to value their essential contribution to our daily lives. It is crucially important that politicians and people truly continue to recognise their worth.
I speak of those NHS and Care Home staff and all those Community Workers who risked their lives daily during this crisis by going into work in order to save ours, at a time when we were confined to our homes! All of these essential workers played Russian Roulette daily as they worked in unsafe environments, not knowing if they would live out their work shift or die as a consequence, or whether they might bring home a deadly infectious virus to kill their own children and family members with!
First, Parliament should remove all future controversy about what constitutes adequate funding to fully resource our NHS and establishing suitable pay grades for its staff by removing the decision from the political football arena and placing it in the hands of an 'All Party Body of Members of Parliament'.
Likewise, a similar non-partisan political body should be established to decide how society is to pay for the elderly being cared for and nursed in Care Homes and to adequately fund and resource these establishments and its staff.
Community Care and Hospital Admission and Care Home Residency require 'joined-up' government policy that makes economic and health-enhancing and social sense. There should also be no distinction made between the resourcing of and access to Physical and Mental Health treatments.
All individual taxpayers should accept and be prepared to pay a higher rate from our weekly earnings in order to sustain our essential services at a higher level than we have been accustomed to previously, and without complaint.
I have always found that within every challenge that we face in life, however tempestuous the threat, there resides a rainbow of hope that emerges when the storm has passed. Such rainbows provide the opportunity for brighter days to come and the wiser and more seasoned a traveller through life we are, the more likely we are to find the crock of gold by following the rainbow to its more profitable end instead of foolishly chasing the storm we have just experienced.
Wherein lies this crock of gold, you might ask? The wealth of tomorrow will always lie within the wise investments of today.
The wisest investment of all is to never take for granted life itself.
It is a gift from God, not the right of the man.
We also grow richer when we learn to truly appreciate all those things we took for granted; those simple things like walking the streets, strolling the woods and meadows, talking with our neighbor on our doorstep, inviting them into the house for a cup of tea and a natter, having a pint of beer in the pub with our mates, taking our partners out for a meal, attending family gatherings, giving family, friends and loved ones a hug, a kiss, a fond embrace whenever we meet or say goodbye. Not to mention those important rituals that help us rejoice or grieve, like being a father observing the birth of their baby while they hold their wife's hand, attending the Christening services of family members, attending weddings and anniversary occasions, visiting our ill family and friends in the hospital, or being at the death bed of a loved one and attending their funeral service after passing.
Learning 'how big' in your life are such things we once considered 'small' and becoming aware that nothing we ever say or do is 'insignificant' or 'unimportant' are essential in making us feel wholesome, purposeful and meaningful. Things like being able to hear and see for the first time the true wonder of a baby's cry: a bird's song: the sheer enjoyment of hearing a child laugh with glee in their eyes as they kick leaves in the autumn wood or make a big splash as they jump in a rain puddle: hearing the raucous laughter of a silly joke being shared around a cafe table with close friends having a coffee morning. Learning to appreciate the presence of all these things in our daily life provides the bedrock of social cohesion and cements the bond we all need between self, others, God, animal life, and nature.
Tonight, when I go to my door at 8:00 pm to applaud the heroes of our time, along with all my Haworth neighbours, I know my thanks to them all will be heartfelt.
Many of you will know of the health issues which have been my constant companion for the past seven years; the number of cancers I have had to deal with, the many operations I have had, along with one and a half years of monthly chemotherapy and a few months of radiotherapy. You will also know however, the importance I place in my belief in God, in self and in others, and in the power of prayer and love along with the positivity of thought. You know that what enables me to live my life and to play with the cards I've been dealt, is my love of life on earth and my belief in an even better life to come. With such a hand, God dealt me a 'full house' on the day I was born.
I, as much as most of you, have known the true worth and value of those NHS and associated health workers I will clap and cheer at 8:00 pm this evening, ever since the age of 11 years when I was admitted into hospital with life-threatening injuries that prevented me walking again for three years. When I lay awake on that adult hospital ward as a boy with intense pain and unable to sleep during the early morning hours, while men around men snored, farted, or died and were quietly removed to the hospital morgue before the day shift started and beds were made anew, it was during those dark hours of the night when I would be visited by an Angel of Mercy in a nurse's uniform who would hold my hand and whisper words of comfort and encouragement to me.
Yes! I'll clap and applaud you tonight as I have every night since the age of 11 years as a patient in the old Batley Hospital. Hospital nurses were my rainbow during the first storm of my life as a boy, and have remained my rainbow as a man ever since. I am so pleased that the rainbow is the image that has sprung up in windows as school children's response to the coronavirus outbreak and our NHS heroes. God bless each and every one of our nurses, doctors, surgeons, and associated medical and community care staff. We salute you!
Love and peace Bill xxx