This blog writer had to go to Liverpool for a meeting on Monday and it took two taxi journeys, eight hours on a train and a four-hour meeting. It was a looooong day, but throughout the day I spoke to three men, all of whom had different stories to tell – all of them uplifting, inspiring and brilliant examples of what humankind can achieve.
The taxi driver
A 30-year old man from Newport Road (we have two customers from there, Cardiff Sixth Form College and Wales Refugee Council) picked me up at 7.15 in the morning. We talked about where we both came from and he told me of his journey 12 years ago from Eritrea to Cardiff. It took him many months and it was full of extreme hardship – three days and nights on a tiny boat that was so full that he couldn’t sit down, followed by walking and hitching from Italy to Calais. Once at Calais he smuggled himself on a lorry that took him to Bradford where he sought and received asylum. He now has a family, a house and a living and says that some days he wonders if it was all a dream…..but he has the scars to prove that it wasn’t. He told me that each day he is thankful for the life he leads and how grateful he is that he can bring his children up in safety.
The reason behind my long day was to meet the founding member of an American company called Handshake. After a tasty superfood salad (wishing I had ordered ham, egg and chips) I walked to the meeting with the founder, a shy and quietly spoken young man who told me that he and his friends had started the company whilst students at university, with the main aim of democratising opportunities for students in the job market today. Of course, the idea is going to make him very rich, but more importantly, he saw an opportunity and had the courage and drive to take the chance. It was clear that the last few years had pushed him emotionally and mentally, and I dread to think how many hours he puts in a week, but he was driven by an idea that he thinks will help others. Side note: the moustache on the right in the pic above is the entrepreneur who has set up Taclus Confidential – like the young American, he works too long and talks too much about this business, but he is driven by the idea that his shredding business will make a difference, not only for the environment, but for businesses.
My final inspiring man of the day was a 75 year-old man from Abergavenny. We sat opposite each other on the train from Crewe and in the last 20 minutes of his journey he spoke to my colleague and me. He had travelled down from Northumberland and was still working part-time as an external examiner in carpentry. In the last two years he had joined Beaufort male voice choir. He told us about the huge impact this had had on his life – it has massively increased his self-confidence, he has a whole new group of friends, feels healthier and happier and is using his brain to learn the difficult pieces that were sat in front of him on the train table. And he is never happier than when singing a rousing rendition of Calon Lan with his buds. What a lovely guy! For any of you who heard the amazing sound of the crowd in the Wales qualifier match last night, you will know how amazing Welsh voices can sound!
At the end of the day I was knackered and more than a little grumpy. But as I grumbled to myself (and to the man on the right with the moustache), I thought again about these three men and thought how enjoyable it had been to talk to each one. And I thought about Movember and about the reason behind the charity – tackling prostate cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention for men – and how very, very important this charity is.
Back to shredding in the next post, but if you haven’t yet contributed to Movember this month, please consider doing so. At Taclus, we are raising money specifically for Prostate Cancer this year (via Facebook), but you can donate to Movember directly on their site.