As I started to prepare for the Wales walk I learnt about Anne-Marie “Arry” Beresford-Webb, who in her DragonRun1027 was first to traverse the new Wales Coast Path and existing Offa’s Dyke long distance path all around Wales. Only Arry was not content to walk around Wales, as I will do in a few weeks, but she ran it, 39 days, a marathon distance every day, all in support of Velindre Cancer Centre. I thought Arry was Wonder Woman – just absolutely amazed, in a year of amazing Olympic successes, still my hero of the year if not the decade.
I thought this must be the summit of achievement, what could equal that.
Then Rob Styles (@mmmmmrob) shared a link on Twitter to One MIllion Lovely Letters.
Since she was eleven, Jodi Ann Bickley (
@jodiannbickley) has been leaving notes “between text books, on buses, in libraries and as I got older in pubs, restaurants … anywhere I thought that maybe someone might need a little bit of cheering up, reassurance or just a reminder that actually they are pretty lovely” because “everyone deserves to know that they are thought of and they are loved. Even if it is by a complete stranger.“. And now she is offering to write to anyone, beautiful hand written letters, full of love, to anyone, any of the seven billion strangers we all have in this world.
This would all be marvellous enough on its own, yet when she describes her lifelong project of lovely note leaving she goes on to say “… and as I got a little older in doctors surgeries and hospital beds“. It turns out that the new turn to letter writing is because she has been recently “blessed with a lot of time“, and this blessing, not a lottery win leaving her a lady of leisure, or retirement at the end of her years, but a debilitating illness at the age of 24.
I am sure Arry’s ultra-marathon running is based on years of physical practice starting with small runs and building up to her epic achievement, gradually exercising muscles and joints so that when called upon to work in extremes they are ready. Not that the work was not hard and painful, not that feet did not bleed and muscles ache, but a body prepared through small things for the great things demanded of it.
It sounds to me that in spirit and personalty, Jodi has had just such exercise, creating a habit of joy-giving in small things so that when the big challenge came, while no less painful in the body and soul, she is ready, not just to endure, but to make it a blessing for others.
I am amazed and awed.
I myself have been blessed to know many wonderful women, not least my wife and lovely daughters. And I can only thank God that in days of cynicism and depression, hardship and crisis, there are those who in different ways rise as heroes to inspire us all.