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Little Things Mean Such A Lot #WATWB

watwic-bright-tuqblkThis story comes from my local newspaper. I like it because it illustrates how small acts of kindness add up to a great deal.

The link is to the relevant page of the newspaper and you will need Adobe to read it. The journalist responsible for the story is Lynda Kiernan.

She tells us about a grand mother who is an enthusiastic knitter. As well as fulfilling orders for knitwear for friends and relations she knits baby clothes which she delivers to the local maternity hospital. But her charity does not end there: she also fills shoe boxes with gifts to be distributed to children around the world. At the time of the article she already had 225 ready and wrapped for Christmas this year.

Have you got a good news story to share with the world? Here’s how to join in:

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar. Some of you have already done so, this is just a gentle reminder for the others.

5. Help us spread the word on social media. Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hashtag to help us trend!

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#WATWB hosts this month: Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and Peter Nena



A Date With . . . Millie Slavidou

My latest date is with an English author living in Greece. Millie Slavidou lives in Alexandroupoli, a port town in the far northeastern corner of Greece. It is not generally on the beaten track for tourists and tends to be little known in the UK. Despite that, it is, she says,

518xdybe01l-_ac_us218_“a good place to live, and as a lover of history, I have always been intrigued by the fact that Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, met his father King Philip of Macedon on the island opposite the town and visible from the seafront. There is a fascinating history there waiting to be discovered.”

The thing she most likes about the place is “the seafront.

Sometimes I take my laptop down to the seafront and sit on a bench near the lighthouse to work and watch the sea at the same time.

There is something very relaxing and serene about watching the sea.”

She seems reluctant to nominate a least favourite aspect of the place:

41vngw3qfl-_ac_us218_“Dare I say anything? Or will I be hounded out of town?! It has to be the terrible state of the roads and the sheer number of potholes.”

We conducted the interview just a short while after many people were killed and others made homeless by a wildfire in a Greek coastal town. Such events, though not always so destructive of life, are not uncommon in the region.

Millie’s heart “truly goes out to the people who have died, and those remaining behind who have lost their loved ones and everything they own in those recent fires. It is a terrible situation. Unfortunately, wildfires have become an expected part of summer for many parts of the Mediterranean, and this region is no exception – there 51vk9jqdl-_ac_us218_was a devastating fire in this area a few years ago that destroyed a large swathe of beautiful forest. It is not something that you can forget easily.”

It is her love of languages and etymology that drives Millie’s writing:

“My parenting articles are mostly on subjects related to language, bilingualism and teaching literacy skills. I studied language, and I have spent the last twenty years continuing to study and read about bilingualism for my own interest. I hope to interest other people in these subjects, and who better than parents who may also be in a position to pass on more than one language to their children and inspire the potential next generation of linguists?”

She also contributes to an on-line magazine for children:

41hceg6dvrl-_ac_us218_“It is something I truly enjoy doing.

Children are our future, and if we wait until they are adults before trying to inspire them and give them interesting material to read, then it is too late.

Many of my articles for the magazine have been on linguistic topics, such as the history of writing in English, etymology, the English vowel shift and so on.”

I suggested that her books could be described as “travelogues for tweens” and she approves:

“That is spot on! Perfect description. My heroine travels to various places and discovers things about the place, the language and the culture. All the descriptions of real places and landmarks are accurate, as are the snippets of the local language – always accompanied by English equivalents.”

Her protagonist, Lucy Evans, from the illustrations I’ve seen, looks a lot like Millie. I wondered if Lucy is like Millie in other ways:

“She is! I was also a confident teen, filled with curiosity about the world I lived in, although unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to go to so many places at such a young age like Lucy!”

The illustrations that accompany the text of the books are done by a professional artist, as are the book covers. She also uses a professional editor.

“I am not the least bit artistic and I don’t draw very well. I had them all done for me, as well as the pictures at the start of each chapter. Lynn Schreiber, the editor of Jump Mag, the magazine I contribute to, edited all the books.”

Like most indie authors Millie hates marketing.

She blogs about etymology at “but the subject matter is very different from the books I have published so far. That is why I have not made an effort to tie it to my name and author profile. However, Jump Mag has a page for me, and all my books are featured there. I am planning to expand on that – life and work keep getting in the way of all the things I want to do!”

She likes to write whilst “Watching the sea, as I mentioned above, or simply during the mornings while my children are at school, if I have no paid work to get on with – I also translate, and sometimes I can be very busy.”

When I ask about her current work in progress it turns out that she is very busy indeed:

“I have another Lucy book almost finished on my laptop, awaiting only the final chapter, but I am also working on several other things. I have an adventure book set in Tuscany in Italy, with a brand new heroine, with a bit of history of the Etruscans thrown in, as well as a couple of stories for much younger children and my longstanding etymology project. I have a son with special needs, and my stories for younger children were written for him.”

When asked to offer a fact about herself that might surprise her readers she says:

“Despite having spent many years living in the Mediterranean within walking distance of the sea, I very rarely go to the beach, and don’t often swim in the sea. I prefer to walk along the shore or along woodland paths.”

I’m sure the fans of Lucy Evans are eager to get their hands on her latest adventure so I hope it won’t be too long before it’s finished and on sale. Meanwhile Millie’s Amazon page is here and you can follow her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Robbie’s Million Steps

About 6 months after we arrived in Ireland the presenter of the early morning show on our local radio station left. Among the new voices that took his place was one with a very ‘posh English’ accent. But Robbie Donnelly did not do much presenting in the months and years that followed. He became the voice of promotional events. Indeed, in those first weeks, in the spring and summer of 2007, he would turn up at a randomly selected home each breakfast time to present, live on air, a prize to any householder who could show him a loaf produced by a particular well known Irish baker.

Originally from the Channel Islands, Robbie’s distinctive, friendly voice became part of the background to our new lives. One of the delights of local radio, perhaps especially for incomers like us, is the way you get to know something of the personal lives of the presenters and their support staff. Over the 10 years since we first heard him, Robbie we learned how Robbie got married and started a family. Because of his role in promotions, his face became almost as well known as his voice. I met him in person on a couple of occasions when I entered one or other of the crazy competitions he devised.

Around the middle of last year, we realised that his voice, ever present in commercials up until then, had disappeared. This morning we discovered why. Robbie came on to the mid-morning current affairs programme to talk to the long time presenter about the reason for his absence.

His and his wife’s third child, Harry, was born in May of last year with Down’s Syndrome. But that was not all. Harry also had respiratory problems leading to the need for a tracheostomy. And then the really bad news – Robbie’s youngest child has leukemia. He has never been home. The whole of Harry’s 17 months of life have been spent in one or other of Ireland’s pediatric hospitals.

Robbie and his young wife have to spend long days and nights at the hospital, too, whilst at the same time trying to hold things together at home for the two older children. Robbie told his story in matter of fact terms, with no great show of emotion. He and his family are living every parent’s worst nightmare. A nightmare compounded by the fact that they live 100 km from the hospital.

Home from Home


But that was not the reason for his appearance on this morning’s Midlands Today Show. He has been helped enormously by a facility called Hugh’s House. It’s a place where the families of sick children can stay over at no cost. The hospitals provide limited accommodation for parents, but this is not suitable for families. Hugh’s House helps to keep families together in a ‘home from home’ whilst one of their children is undergoing treatment.

To show his gratitude Robbie is undertaking a fund-raising walk in January. He will take a million steps that month. To understand what this means, most people will take around 6,000 steps in a typical day. Robbie will be doing five times that number every day in January. About 25 km each day, whatever the weather.

Now, I know that not all of my readers are based in Ireland and that many of you have your own favourite charities that you support. But this seems to me to be a particularly worthwhile cause. Maybe there’s a similar facility serving families who live near you who have a child undergoing long term hospital treatment. I urge you to seek it out and offer your support.

And for those of you who are in Ireland, here’s a link to the GoFundMe page where you can join me in supporting Robbie’s appeal.