At my primary school, charity was central to everything we did. I remember countless occasions where we would go out and sing at events, organise bakes sales and hold dressing-up days etc – fundraising for Rainbows, a charity that supports families with disabled children. I remember the feeling of fulfilment as I gave up my time to help others ‘less fortunate than I was’. Introducing charity events at such an early age is something I find really important – it inspired me to organise my own charity events as I moved on to secondary school.
In my first year at ‘big school’, I stepped up and gave a speech to 800 or so of my peers, about a charity very close too my heart – the British Hen Welfare Trust. I talked about the work the charity has done, increasing the welfare of chickens in the UK and abroad, and organising campaigns to stop the so-called ‘Battery Hen Farms’ which cruelly industrialises the chicken farming industry in such a way that millions of hens now end up in tiny cages indoors for their entire lives. I organised a ‘Free-range Friday’ bake sale, where I encouraged everyone to bring in their cakes (made with free range eggs) to sell to raise funds for the charity. I was amazed with the popularity at first – the bake sale was a huge success and overall I raised over £800 for the charity.
After that bake sale, I didn’t really do much else in the way of charity. I got consumed in increasing academic workload, music practice and sports, and over time, I forgot how good fundraising felt. The years went by and I continued through school. It wasn’t until this summer that I realised how much I miss that feeling of fulfilment you get from charity work. I was travelling around the local area, entertaining elderly care-home residents for a summer job. I was struck by the effect my music has on the residents – many suffer from dementia, and when they heard the music their eyes lit up as memories came flooding back. Dr Oliver Sacks, a respected dementia scientist once said that “Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience. Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory.” Through the corner of my eye, while playing jigs, reels and sonatas, I could see the residents smiling and clapping. Some even had the energy to get up and dance.
Playing in the care-homes inspired me to get back into charity work – and, earlier today I played at my local garden centre, raising funds for the Dogs Trust. Occasionally, someone would come past and put a few coins in the collection pot I had put out. Over the course of a few hours, the number of coins built up and I left with over £50.00 to donate to the charity.