One of the things that stands out for me about the Children's Hospital in Sheffield is that they bring about stories of hope. I recently read the story of Holly Hargrave, who was born with a tethered spinal cord which harmed her chances of ever being able to walk. But at 7 years old she is a keen hiker and took on the 60k stampede to rasie a huge amount of money for the hospital which she has been in the care of most of her life. Of course we all want to hear good stories of recovery, but we sometimes forget that the journey is often a long and painful one, and other times things don't pan out the way we had hoped.
The Children's Hospital Charity do an amazing job at raising money for the hospital in order to make sure that there are even more stories of hope. The Herd of Sheffield project was set up by them in order to raise even more funds for the hospital and I have been delighted to be part of the project; painting a large elephant sculpture which will be auctioned off for the charity.
Unfortunately, some people don't care about the hours of work that have gone into the elephants or the fact that this is a charity project, and many of the elephants have been left badly damaged, some with definite malicious intent. I was suprised to find out that my elephant 'Small Beginnings' had been kicked in with brute force. But unfortunately some not-so-thoughtful people chose it to let out some aggression on. The knock on effect of this, of course, is that more hours and resources have to be spent on repairs instead of going straight to The Children's Hospital. It seems such a mindless waste of time and money.
So, I set up a Just Giving page off the back of the vandalisation of my elephant and lots of people have very kindly donated money to the hospital. I have received all sorts of lovely messages from people I have never met, which brought me right back round to that word again: hope. We all need a bit of it, don't we? An encouraging word or a promise of something better.
My elephant is all about big things having small beginnings - not overlooking the small things; not overlooking small people! Not worrying about the huge task ahead but starting small. For me, that was focussing on painting a small elephant and not worrying so much about having such a weird, curvy, elephant of a canvas to paint! For those in the hospital it might be taking one day at a time and not letting the impossibility of recovery dwarf any hope. For you it might be donating a quid despite feeling overwhelmed by the amount needed to make a real difference. And short of making my elephant a Tesco branded one with 'Every little helps' painted on it's belly, I opted for 'Big things often have small beginnings.' You can make a difference. A huge one. Just by contributing something small.
So, I set about the task of repairing my elephant in the Herdy hospital (a warehouse!). And I actually thought it was quite apt that my elephant had been badly vandalised, because journeying to big things can often involve huge setbacks and difficulties. We feel like giving up. We question what we're about. But broken things do not make a story any less, they make it even more of one. We often want to miss out the bad parts, don't we? But these give our stories depth and a greater connection with those who have experienced similar things. Admittedly, re-painting an elephant isn't exactly the most difficult of life experiences, is it? But you get my point. To mark this I decided to add a little tear on to one of the little elephants on my design to represent its journey of recovery. So now my elephant marks a better story because it's raised even more money for the charity and it tells a story of hope.