A good book

When I was very young my parents wanted me to have a love of books and reading. They read to me in Welsh and English and as I became old enough to read myself it allowed my bilingual skills to advance.

Having the ability to speak 2 languages is something I take forgranted as do the majority of the peoples on earth. Yet, those who speak English seem to expect others to bow to their linguistic dominance. What this monoglot attitude seems not to see is that children speaking 2 languages can easier learn a third. I read recently, and then discussed it with a teacher in the family, that it is in primary school that languages should be initially taught. At that age children can absorb them quickly.

This monoglot culture, which in turn encourages the a distrust of diffence, could be the foundation that encouraged the Brexit vote in 2016. After all, the areas with a natural 2nd language were less supportive to ‘Leave’. #Outside the UK, it is also part of the reason why nations turned inward during the Trump era. Seeing outside influences and those who created them as an ‘other’ to be feared. Why we didn’t learn how dangerous this was after humanity met nazism in the 1930s is hard to comprehend.

At school we were read to early on and then read to our teachers. We were encouraged to understand what the author was saying. Very soon, the school library was a place I went to often. Miss Pritchard then Mr Williams, Mr Jones, Mr Davies and Mrs Price took us through stories which I mostly enjoyed. Having said that, it was my final class teacher at school Miss Yvonne Hughes who guided me towards authors still enjoy today. None more so than George Orwell and Gerald Durrell. I was thrilled by ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’ and as an adult I read ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ and ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’.

Gerald Durrell and his wonderful ‘My Family and other Animals’ is a treat for anyone to read. She also pointed me towards the ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ ‘War of the Worlds’ and the ‘Day of the Triffids’.

By today, I am a reader of Crime Novels and love authors like Robert Goddard and Cara Hunter. My late Father was obsessed with Westerns. He tried to take Monday off and enjoy a day with in the Wild West.

Teaching a child to enjoy reading is so important. As I read this my Stepdaughter is in her 2nd year of an English, her Fiance is completing an MA in English. My Niece also has an English degree. They all know this to be true.


I am now double vaccinated against COVID-19. My initial feeling has been one of elation and excitement. As it will allow me to see my family again and to be part of the ‘new normal’ society. I am not a huge fan of injections but as a recent documentary said, we all need to be safe before any individual can be safe. So, I would encourage everyone who can have the vaccine to do so. Don’t do it for yourself but for those you love and for the benefit of those you share a community with.

When a virus has entered our society on such a massive scale as COVID-19 has I wanted to see everything possible being done to get us out of the danger we were facing. As I write this blog the priority of what is needed is getting as much of mankind vaccinated and for the tracing of new cases to get better and better. The nations with successful COVID-19 treatment records are nations like Israel, New Zealand and Australia where a zero COVID-19 policy in place. Our government has set out a plan it thinks will take us out of lockdown permanently. Sadly it does not include a zero covid strategy and it sees the government in hoc to those in the Tory party who were Brexiteers and who now campaign for individualcfreedom and the economy before the welfare of the society and the NHS itself. There is even talk of extra deaths we have to accept. The politicians need to safeguard the public and support until COVID-19 levels are so low it does become like flu.

Thankfully, through incredibly hard work by scientists the vaccine is now a reality and more and more are receiving it each day. Vaccine roll out has been a great success. As the UK has taken the vaccine route the scientific community in successful nations,like Australia and New Zealand have been very successful in tracking down covid cases and tracing those who they have been in contact with. The question which needs to be asked is why this is not happening in the same way world wide? It does seem the need for a standardised treatment and tracing policy would make sharing information and supplies far more efficient.

When the virus first hit, the UK government told us that we needed to go into a lockdown so that the scientists and medical community could get this under control. When we came out of the first lockdown the number of cases in the community and more importantly in hospital were slowing as were the deaths. The restrictions we faced were reduced and the political leaders started to get us back to work and children back to school and students back to universities. They tried to get pubs and restaurants back working but the juggling act of defeating the covid virus and kickstarting the economy was proving very difficult. Now, we are on lock down 3 and case numbers in the UK are higher than at the end of lockdown 1.

The difficulty seems to be, firstly, that a blue print of best practice worldwide has not been created and accepted. Nations like New Zealand and Australia not forgetting Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan and Israel have shown a path to recovery but thanks to leaders like President Trump in the US and others in nations like Brazil and Hungary any unified progress across the world has been impossible. With the election of President Biden should make joined up thinking far easier.

Secondly, the political leaders mentioned earlier within populist governments have either ignored the dangers of Covid or gone down their own paths.

Now President Biden is in place in the US and the end of ‘America First’ we will see pan national cooperation to avoid problems as long as the political leaders do what they said at the beginning of the pandemic namely to follow the science. We have seen what happens when we allow politicians and economists to have control of decision making, levels of cases, hospitalisations and deaths increase.

I may be being naive but surely, as an island nation ourselves we need to be following the best practice of island nations like New Zealand. Why were we not doing so from day one. I hope that we can look towards best practise and end the short-sightedness which has led to an enormous death toll both here in the UK and worldwide. Things like vaccine nationalism has to be avoided because, during a pandemic, none of us are safe until all of us are safe. That means vaccination for as many of humanity as possible and a worldwide campaign to convince those who are against vaccination showing its safety record as roll out moves forward. In the COVID-19 society we all now live in The New Normal for mankind is within sight but it will take co operation within mankind to get us there. We have to have faith in the science that other nations have used to gain control and grab the New Normal future firmly and be part of it.

Cor-ona dipyn mwy na pop.

Ychydig yn nol ddaru fi gael trafodaeth efo cyfaill ar Facebook am sut mae taste buds ni yn newid wrth i ni heneiddio. Ac hefyd sut mae ogla pethe yn mynd a ni yn nol mewn amser neu yn atgoffa ni a llefydd neu pobol arbennig.

Mae ogla a blas ‘Vimto’ yn mynd a fi i cae peldroed ‘Cae Clyd’ yn Manod ger Stiniog lle oedd fy Nhad yn mynd efo fi i weld tim Blaenau yn chwarae yn ystod fy mlentyndod.

Fel plentyn o’r 60au mae hyn sicr o fod yn wir. Fel pob plentyn gyda anabledd corfforol o’r cyfnod oedd rhaid I mi fynd yn ddisgbl mewn Ysgol ‘arbennig’. Ac yn Gogledd Cymru ar by pryd oedd yr Ysgol I plant anabl yn Craig Y Don, Llandudno. Ysgol Gogarth. Dwi wedi sgwennu nifer o postia am y cyfnod yma o’m mywyd ond mae rheswm arbennig I ychwanegu un arall heddiw.

Llai na milltir o’r Ysgol oedd siop yn gwethu papura newydd dan yr ‘The Chocolate Box’. Oedd hi yn lle arbennig I blentyn. Gyda fferins (I ni y Gogs) neu loshin I plant y de. Oedd didodydd o pob math hefyd. Ac lle i cael cigarette cynta os oedd rhywun amv drio. Fel pob plentyn arall o ni yn hoff o pop ac oedd na un enw yn enwog iawn. Pop o wahanol blas a lliwia.

Oedd na criw ohonnom yn rhannu ‘dormitories’ ar y pryd ac pob hyn a hyn oedd y plant yn mynd a box I lawr i’r siop I cael arian am mynd a poteli gwag i’r siop. Erbyn heddiw a finna yn drigian oed oedd yr adeg o mynd a poteli Corona wedi mynd o’r cof nes I mi weld grwp newydd ar Facebook. Grwp oedd a’i wreiddia yn nhdyddia cynta ‘Lockdown’ ar firws ofnadwy sydd yn dal i symyd trwy’r byd.

Mae Catrin Toffoc wedi gwneud rhywbeth anhygoel wrth creu grwp Cor-ona. Lle mae cantorion o Gymru a Cymru alltud o pob cwr o’r byd yn yn lawr lwytho perfformiadau o caneuon neu cerddoriaeth ar pob math o bynciau. A diolch I Catrin a cyd weithio a’r tenor Rhys Meirion mae Cor Digidol wedi canu y gan Cymreig enwog ‘Calon Lan’.

Oedd Catrin yn rhan o’r byd corawl cyn i COVID-19 cyrraedd. Ac ar ei ol oedd angen lle i cantorion o bob safon fynd ar lein i canu ac i eraill yn ei miloedd fwynhau. Wedi’r cyfan mae Cymru yn, ‘Wlad Y Gan’.

Ar ol i y firws cael ei ddifa dwi wir yn gobeithio bydd Cor-ona ddim yn diflanu. Dwi wedi clywed lleisiau newydd i mi a bysa fi wrth fy modd yn ei gweld nhw ar lwyfan ac diolch am fy diddori yn ystod y cyfnod dyrus yma.

Oedd gweld y byd yn y fath drafferth yn rhywbeth o ni byth yn disgwyl gweld. Ond, diolch I Catrin ydi Lockdown ddim wedi bod heb cysylltiad a cerddoriaeth O Gymru a finna yn Gymro alltud yn Wolverhampton ers dros ddegawd erbyn hyn. Dal ati Catrin a phob hwyl efo dy rhaglen ar Radio Cymru o Mai 16.


When our lives were transformed by the arrival of Covid 19 into the world none of us new what to expect. You would have to be 103 and have decent mental faculties to remember the last pandemic to create similar damage namely ‘Spanish Flu’.

My late Wife Shan and I shared a love for 1 1970’s TV favourites in common, ‘Upstairs Downstairs’. During one episode the son of the Bellamy household, James, played by Simon Williams, lost his Wife to Spanish Flu. This is what we see happening through out the world today as Covid 19 comes into a community and finds the weak spots and strikes.

When the virus was first mentioned the government said that the plan was to find who had symptoms and trace who they were connected with. As time went on and Covid 19 gained a stronger hold it was decided that connection was to become a dirty word. It was decided that the one thing which we all need as humans, family and friends, were to be available only remotely. Lockdown became a reality as people of all ages, sexes, classes and ethnicity fell victim. The experts in the science which was to keep the community as safe as possible wanted us to stay at home and starve COVID-19 of the main thing it wants connection with new victims.

I am sure that most of us would agree that lock down has been tough. In the UK we are starting our third . Thankfully, the vast majority of the public are keeping to the instructions and the pandemic is starting to lose its speed. Some nations are loosening the restrictions and we watch with interest what this does. At least we do have social media to enable those we love to keep in contact until the day arrives when society can appear at large again.

Before my Wife Shan and I became a couple I knew little about the city of Wolverhampton apart from Wolves and the Molineux. Now 13 years have passed and I have a strong connection. Whereas my home for 30 years, Colwyn Bay, had become a part of my past. In the last few weeks that has chained.

Like many of us I am connected to people all over the world by Facebook and twitter. One evening I saw a man playing the organ and recognised the face immediately it Gwyn from the parish I had left to move here. Shortly before I had seen the son and daughter of a fellow elder from the same parish. The 13 years just faded away. When you add to that working with John Roberts at Radio Cymru again this week it was as if social distancing wasn’t quite as awful as before. So, as the battle of science and COVID-19 rages on let’s all slacken the tension of social distancing by using social media to be just that, SOCIAL, again. We will win the battle and society will be there again. It will have changed, into a kinder place hopefully because of our shared experiences.

Easter has been cancelled!

When I saw this statement a couple of weeks ago about the churches and other places of worship closing in order to comply with covid 19 legislation I thought is Easter really cancelled.? True, it will be very different or even unique this year. It is true also for those of both the Jewish and Muslim and Budist faith too as they have religious festivals at this time of year. Will these festivals really be cancelled too?

Throughout history the major religions of the world have had to face restrictions and even periods of persecution for holding their beliefs.

At Easter we see the early Christian Church being attacked and the Roman Empire trying to kill off the threat coming from the ministry of Jesus Christ. For 3 years he had moved around Galilea with his disciples preaching a message of peace and love for those around you even those who wished you harm. .

At the start of what the Christian Church refers to as Holy Week we see Christ coming through the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey and huge crowds celebrating his arrival and laying palm leaves on the road before him. For those like me who come from Wales and speak Welsh it’s known as ‘Sul Y Blodau’ (Flower Sunday). Those who had heard him preach thought he was here to help overthrow the Roman Empire and give Israel its freedom back. This was the origin of Pilate calling Jesus the ‘King of the Jews’. A title the Sanhedrin hated.

As the week went on the local Roman leader, Pontius Pilate and the religious leaders of the Jewish faith, the Sanhedrin led by Caiphas, started to worry that things were getting out of control for both groups. They decided that action needed to be taken in order to get rid of Jesus and his message before it was too late. Jesus gathered his disciples together in the upper room of a house and celebrated what was to become what we know as the ‘Last Supper’. There he told his closest followers that he was to die and that 1 of them would betray him in order to help his death to occur. The man in charge of looking after the money to fund Jesus ministry was a man called Judas Iscariot. Like many people throughout the centuries who deal with financial matters he was too ready to be corrupted. The Sanhedrin offered him 30 pieces of silver to lead them to the group. He accepted the money and when Christ and his disciples were resting and praying in an area known as the Garden of Gethsemane Judas led the Sanhedrin and its guards to them. He greeted Christ and kissed him on the cheek. Christ was then arrested in the garden of Gethsemane and then both Pilate and the Jewish authorities had to decide what was to happen to him. As we know from the New Testament, Pilate and his wife wanted to dodge having to make a decision as she especially was attracted to Christ’s message. It was decided that a tradition was to be followed whereby they could release a prisoner at the time of passover. Pilate hoped they would release Christ. Sadly for him the Sanhedrin had arranged for the crowds to gather and call for the release of a prisoner called Barabus. This then led to the sentence of death on the cross being carried out on what we refer to as Good Friday. Like many others I have found the name ‘Good’ puzzling. Some scholars say it refers to days within a festival or being ‘belonging to God’ .

On Good Friday at around 3pm he and 2 common criminals were put to death. His family and disciples were devastated. They had lost someone close to them and the disciples were scared for their own lives. In the Easter story we have noted that 2 parts of Jewish society wanted Christ dead. The Romans and the Sanhedrin. Strangely there was a third who could see what was needed in the area and the wider world, God.

At Christmas God brought his Son into the World to live among us. He led Christ to be baptised by John the Baptist and to become the person to share his message and to make those who heard the message believe and share it with others too. Something we as Christians have the privilege to do today.

At the time of writing this blog post the world is facing one of the biggest threats in centuries with the arrival of the Coronavirus. It doesn’t discriminate. It has seen in the UK alone the heir to the throne and the Prime Minister laid low as well as young children and the homeless. Thousands have caught it and many have sadly died. What we know is that in time the experts will find a vaccine and this will hopefully safeguard us and then we can resurrect our countries, our communities and our lives. At Easter those of us with a Christian faith will celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the new life that comes with it. I really hope that this Easter, unlike any other, we will see our world ressurected into a much kinder place due to the shared experience that humanity has had with coronavirus. After all we have been told, ‘We are all in this together’. Let us all carry on believing that we will stay all in this together. In this period the music world lost the singer Bill Withers. He wrote the soul classic ‘Lean on me’. At this very uncertain time lets see it be an anthem for the campaign to fight the Coronavirus. Love and togetherness is what will keep us safe and healthy.

Coronavirus and me

Like everyone else on the planet my life has been transformed by the arrival among us of Coronavirus. It is one of those events which will most probably change how we live our lives forever. Historians will look at this period of human history and say what we as humanity did right and wrong in the fight and defeat of Coronavirus.

Prior to the virus arriving we lived in our own families and shared other times with our friends and with other social and working groups. Like all other mammals we are social beings and so when the concept of ‘Social Distancing’ came into being recently it changed instincts and daily life completly. Where our basic instinct is to share physical contact to show love and care for each other different strands of the same family can now not share that need. This creates a huge stress on our mental health. Mental health has gained more attention recently and with arrival of Coronavirus it will be in even sharper focus. We now rely on social media and video calls to see those we love and care for that do not share our homes. When I was a young boy in the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog people used walk up to a neighbour’s house and knock on the door and walk in. The community we belonged to knew and cared for one another. We need to be that kind of community again.

The virus doesn’t care who we are or what nation or culture come from. As we have seen lately all kinds of sporting, cultural and religious gatherings have been set aside as we fight this virus. What we all have to realise is it will turn on us all if we do not follow the directions deemed the most effective by those in charge of the policy for fighting this virus. We are fighting this together whoever we are. All thoughts about what we think of others are set aside so that lives can be saved.

Togetherness is something which we have not recognised for a number of years here in the UK. When this horrible virus is beaten and plans are put in place to ensure our safety if it ever returns I really hope that we as humanity will recognise that it was togetherness that got us through this. Baroness Thatcher told an audience in the Church of Scotland some years ago that ‘there was no such thing as society’. Society is the thing that we as individuals are crying out for today. The society which works together and shows kindness to our friends and neighbours but also welcomes those who we don’t yet know. Togetherness needs us to care for those around us so that when problems arise we can tackle them together. Let’s not throw away a new society where 750,000 have volunteered to help the NHS. Let’s stay out there thinking how we can help others. As the American Live Aid anthem of the 80’s announced, ‘We are the World’. We only have one World and we need to live in it together. The virus will go but humanity will not. Stay safe, stay healthy so we can finally get together again.


Whoever we are, we all need someone to look up to. Someone that has the strengths and talents which we wished we shared. When my parents moved from Manchester they were to leave one if not two behind.

There they had become friends with an incredible man who fled the Nazi’s because of his Jewish faith and heritage and came to the city with hardly a penny to his name.

He was Rabbi Felix Calerbach. He had the chance to flee to the UK because of the generosity of the actor and radio presenter Sam Costa. Making his home in Manchester and becoming a rabbi in the city. As time went on he asked my Mother if she would looked after his children when her nursing duties allowed.

Whilst doing this she found that the Calerbachs had a great love for music. In fact they were friends with the maestro and conductor Sir John Barbarolli who was conductor of the world renowned Halle Orchestra, in fact they hold an annual concert now in Felix memory. On several occasions Mum told me she was very star struck when she met Sir John. He was very friendly with her and loved the children. For a very short time Mum joined the mezzos in the chorus. Sadly, her nursing duties cut it short. Having said that, she said the musical highlight of her life was singing the Messiah one Easter with them at the Free Trade Hall.

As my Father and Rabbi Calerbach got to know each other they learnt that their different faiths could become a barrier. They did as much as they could not to let that happen. Rabbi Calerbach invited members from Dad’s congregation in Altrincham and Warrington to visit the Synagogue but as he was a Orthodox Jew he couldn’t visit Dad’s Chapels. He once asked what the Jews thought of Christ and was told, ‘We believe he was a very good man misunderstood’. As you can imagine they agreed to differ.

After marrying in Merthyr Vale, my parents set up home in Dad’s new parish of Efailnewydd. One of the congregation was someone who was very well known in musical circles, the retired opera singer Leila Meganne. She didn’t sing often in chapel but Mum said she still had a striking voice.

Towards the end of her life her family asked my Mum if she would come to see her and she looked after her around the time of her death.

When we moved to Blaenau I became friends with a family with several children. We almost shared a surname but they had an ‘s’ on the end of our Griffith. One of the sons was Cenwyn Griffiths. He had what many people these days would describe as ‘the voice of an angel’. Everyone in Manod who knew him thought the world of him and his singing. It was a massive shock when Dad stopped the car one Friday afternoon on the way home from school in Llandudno to tell me he had died.

As I grew into a teenager I found myself becoming obsessed with wheelchair racing and athletics. I was 2or 3 years younger than the fastest racer in school at the time, Dafydd Williams from Penysarwaen near Caernarfon. As I got into the senior school and the same races as him I got to know him quite well. On one occasion he asked me to go on a training run with him and we went around the Orme and back to school. As we were both Welsh speakers we had that in common too. In the last sports day at school he competed in I got very close to him but not close enough. It was another sadness to hear that he too had died some years after leaving school having married.

As you who have read these tweets will know I am a huge Man United fan. On an amazing day I was taken to the then training ground, ‘The Cliff’ by presenter Mici Plwm and an S4C camera crew to see my heroes train. We watched as the squad went through routines and then they made their way to the changing rooms. To my amazement, Alex Ferguson, as he was then, came and spoke to us. He said, ‘I take it you would like to meet some of the players. I will ask the first 3 out of the showers to come and say hello.’ To my astonishment, they were Ryan Giggs, Dion Dublin and Eric Cantona. It was an amazing day.

Meeting people you look up to is fought with risk as they say, ‘heroes can have feet of clay’. Thankfully mine haven’t. Especially the biggest of all my late Father. I would give anything to be thought of in the same breath as him.

New Year, New Challenge, New Life

For the last 2 years I have been fighting and thankfully winning a battle with illness. During that time I have gone from being able to push myself for a couple of miles at a time in my wheelchair to being laid up in bed for most of the time. My late Wife always said I was way too stubborn and independent. This independence has been reduced to nearly nothing as Dr’s and nurses battled and gave me a second chance and district nurses are keeping that fight going.

As the civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who refused to move from a white only bus, is remembered this week with a statue in her memory it has given me even more resolve to get more of my independence back. I can now do more for myself. In the 4 hours out of bed each afternoon the plan is that I can do daily chores around the house, something I never thought I would look forward too. It will be lovely to put the oven on and cook myself a meal. It will be even nicer to cook one for my Stepdaughter Kate and her partner Laura as well as my Cousin Sian, her partner Tony and Kate’s brother Adam who have supported me through this very long battle.

On the days when the weather allows I can start going down into Bilston in my power chair to shop and socialise and be a member of the community again. Using a power chair has been a mindset that was difficult to accept. It was Kate who got me to see it gets me from a to b without tiredness. This start will then allow me to take the next step and use the accessible transport in the area to rejoin my church family as well as rejoining the team at Radio Wulfrun on a Saturday lunchtime to do the thing I enjoy most of all, presenting on the radio.

When a new decade comes along you think about what it will bring. I hope the 2020’s will bring me and my family health and happiness and a far more settled life. We will no doubt have to face some challenges but after our experiences we know we can face anything and win through.

An unexpected Christmas

When looking at the title of my latest blog post you may be asking yourself how can any Christmas be unexpected. After all it happens annually on December 25th for the vast majority of us although, Orthodox Christians celebrate it on what is referred to as 12th the Night which takes place on January 6th.

This year Christmas was going to have a different feel to it as we had lost my late Wife Shan back on the 8th of February.

When a family loses someone there are many milestones which have to be reached and got past. We have got past Shan’s birthday, Shan and my Wedding Anniversary and then my birthday as well as my Stepdaughter Kate’s. All felt very different because we were not sharing them with one who had been central to all our lives. That having been said, Shan would have wanted all those celebrations which can continue to do so.

Looking back to Christmas’s gone by, they have not all been the same. For example, my first Christmas was spent in our family home in Efailnewydd on the Lleyn Peninsula of North Wales just 3 months after I left the care of the medical staff at Alder Hey in Liverpool. Having me at home was still new to my parents.

When I was 12 I spent Christmas as a patient on the Children’s Ward at Abergele Hospital. After having my leg shortened by one of the best orthopedic surgeons in Europe at the time, Professor Robert Owen. He was professor of surgery at Liverpool but had been in grammar school with my Dad.

The staff were incredible. They made it as much of home from home for of us as they could but it wasn’t what a child would recognize as their family Christmas.

Last Christmas I had been out of hospital for a few months and was recovering from a nasty injury to the base of my back. My Wife was with me and my Stepdaughter was there for part of the big day. I wasn’t able to cook the meal as I had done the year before so everything felt different. It was a lovely day and it felt special as I was spending it at home. It certainly aided my recovery.

As this Christmas came into view I concentrated on getting gifts for close family but not feeling festive as my Soulmate wasn’t going to be physically there. I was really low until two or three days before when it dawned on me that Shan would want us to celebrate and share the gifts we had with each other. Our family unit, like many in the world today, is not made up of blood relations. That having been said we have a strength built on the knowledge that we love and care for each other.

On Christmas Eve, my care team left after the final call of the day. I then went to turn on the TV and the screen stayed black and no sound either. On Christmas morning they arrived again and we did the checks we could think of having contacted the cable company to check I had a signal. My tv had given up the ghost. So, for the first Christmas since I was five I had no tv. Thankfully I had my tablet which gave me access to some programmes whilst it was charged. The day reminded me of what it was like back in Blaenau Ffestiniog as the son of a minister where money was tight.

Thankfully, money is not quite as tight today and as soon as the Sales start I can organize getting a new TV and enjoying the programmes I love again.

Next Christmas I won’t take it for granted that I will have all that I am used to and that all those I love most will be there. Christmas will be there as usual and it won’t be celebrated in the same way in every home. In fact, there will be many homes where families won’t be able to celebrate at all. Some will have had life changing news or experiences which will put the day in a very new and stark perspective.

All I will say is, if Christmas is important to you and your family make sure you keep close to those you love throughout the year because circumstances can come along and turn any day of the year upside down.

This year quite a few of my family and friends have worked to help give the homeless around the country a bit of Christmas cheer. It saddens me that the 6th biggest economy on Earth has seen an increase in homelessness and rough sleeping and the disgrace of food banks has become common place in the country we call home. Surely, it shouldn’t be beyond the government and it’s experts and the charities and church communities to sort this problem out. Everyone should have a place to call home. This is one problem that we have to solve before we can call ourselves a real civilized society.

There is nothing like a Dame!!

It was wonderful to see Wales represented in the short list for Sports Personality of the Year 2019. After Geraint Thomas winning the top prize last year, our nation of 3.5 million people has been boxing above it’s weight, excuse the sporting metaphor. This continued with the Welsh rugby union captain Alun Wyn Jones, who has won the Welsh Sports Personality of the year 2019, in the hunt for the double.

Wales, like all small nations, takes great pride in it’s success and in it’s sporting greats in particular. In last night’s ceremony another of the Welsh sporting greats was honoured, Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson.

When it comes to sporting honours she is someone very special with countless Paralympic, World, European, Commonwealth and British titles to her name not forgetting several wins at the London and other major marathons. It was no surprise therefore that she was given a lifetime achievement award during last night’s glittering ceremony. It will be something she and her family will have appreciated and can take great pride in.

Sadly, she was in the news a short time ago for very different reasons. Someone had seen her with her daughter and had asked, how did you become pregnant? Then going further by hinting that a person like her should not have children.

Why do members of society think they have the right to approach a disabled person and ask such questions? When they wouldn’t consider doing so with an able bodied person. Has our society really become such an unpleasant place to be? Why has intolerance become such an uncomfortable norm of any minority in our society.

I have felt since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump that people think they can be as insulting as they like after all if the leader of ‘The Free World’s doing it they think it has to be ok.

Like Baroness Grey -Thompson, I have Spina Bifida, as did my late Wife Shan. Both Tanni and Shan took the decision with their partners at the time, to have a child. Shan and I would have followed suit if we had become a couple earlier in life.

As part of the research for this blog post, I asked the Spina Bifida charity SHINE what percentage of couples, where one has Spina Bifida, carry on with the pregnancy after the 20 week scan and they it’s 34% and that is the highest it’s been. With the new surgery available within the womb to reduce the affects of the condition, following diagnosis, hopefully this percentage will continue to rise. Allowing more people with Spina Bifida to share in the joy of having a family.

Any group within society needs it’s heroes. With the rising prominence of the Paralympic movement those of us who have a disability now have ours. Those of us from Wales have in Baroness Tanni Grey -Thompson one of the greatest of them all. As a nation we should be hugely proud of her. We should also be ready to lead the way with the respect given to those in our country who have a disability and we should encourage them to become active members of our nation. In whatever sphere they choose.