Sunday, 16 December 2018

Finding Hope - Day 17

Monday 17th December
17 years is the period of time that some species of periodic cicada spend underground
as nymphs in between mating periods. It is believed that they have evolved do this to reduce
the impact of predators both by starving them, whilst their food source is safe
underground, and then by emerging simultaneously in such huge numbers that predators are
stated before all the cicadas can be consumed. I love the sound of cicadas - it reminds me of
my youth and growing up in Hong Kong or heady days spent on Greek islands.
Today will be both good, thankful and slightly wistful - I have a meeting in Cambridge to celebrate the end of the Queen's Young Leaders programme. It has been a genuine pleasure and honour to have been involved from the start. In 2014 a search was launched to find exceptional young people to receive the first ever Queen’s Young Leaders Awards. Hundreds of applications flooded in from incredible young people all dedicated to making lasting change in their community and beyond. The Programme has now come to an end, as this was its final year; it has formed a unique community of 240 influential change-makers, who represent 53 Commonwealth countries. I have mentored a few of them and watched in awe and respect as each of these extraordinary young people have each managed to make the word a better place. Congratulations to all involved. What a wonderful legacy in every way. Thank you to Her Majesty The Queen for having the initial concept and for making it possible

Today's post is by Niall GavinNiall is a much-liked and highly respected independent L&D and learning technologies specialist (after a successful career working in both the public and private sectors). He runs a company called ARG Training. Prior to helping people develop and grow, Niall spent some time as an actor, a postman and a fruit picker. He writes an enjoyable blog, A Little About a Lot and is active on social media, you can find him on Twitter (his handle is @niallgavinuk). He usually has some great insights that he shares on #LDinsight every Friday morning on Twitter. Niall lives near Worthing on the south coast of England. He is a devoted husband and father. In his spare time he enjoys walking and is also an "armchair astronomer". As you will see from what he has written, this year's Advent Blogs' theme struck a chord with him. 


As the theme of this year's Advent Blog series is "Heartaches, Hopes and High Fives", starting this blog is a no-brainer! I am my own best example of experiencing heartache. In April 2015, I developed Angina - actual, real, physical heart ache - the result of which was that two weeks later I had a triple cardiac bypass operation. I have previously blogged about that experience ( 

That dealt with my previously unknown cardiac problems and my surgeon and consultant immediately pronounced me "good for another 25 years" (Not sure what that means for when I turn 85, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it). And I'm still here. Hoorah!

But right now and, I suspect, like many, I am suffering emotional heartache. In a country dramatically divided over a vote on something that was never understood by the electorate and which played to the baser, biased, self-preservatory instincts of many, we find ourselves stepping into a horribly uncertain national future outside the European Union. 

I also look at what's happening in America and am still surprised how much actual, physical revulsion I experience when I see or hear the current Presidential incumbent speak and the blatant, shameless ignorance and willful blindness to fact that his narcissistic persona plays out on the global stage.  

And don't get me started on global warming and species extinction! It's a world that I don't recognise and am embarrassed and upset to be handing over eventually to my - and your - children to work through and sort out. That hurts my heart too.

So the challenge now is to be hopeful, to find something to be hopeful about. I'm struggling with this right now and I find myself wanting in this regard, with a sense of personal impotence and, yes, even despair about these things. My hopes lie in the next generation, my own children, their contemporaries and peers, and in the work that I am doing with Apprentices at our local college. I am working hard with them all to try to encourage and develop a sense of curiosity, of challenge, to see themselves as current and future professionals and citizens, whose voice and actions will make a difference and contribute to a safe, sustainable and secure future for all. As a father and a skills development facilitator, it's my best attempt to 'make up' for the mess we're in and equip them with the resilience and skills they'll need to cope with and/or fix it, if we haven't done so together before we move on and leave them to it. They will carry my hopes with them.

Maybe that's where we could all be focussing a larger part of our attention and efforts now. I know many who are. I hope that I can too.

And finally, my High Five. As Kate Griffiths-Lambeth announces that she's handing over the curation and publication of the Advent Blog series - to the excellent Gary Cookson (@Gary_Cookson) - I can think of no-one better deserving of our thanks and best wishes for the future than Kate herself. In the midst of her own personal challenges, she has inspired many of us to contribute to the series over the years, enhanced our humble contributions and ensured the continuation of what has become a high point of the festive calendar. BIG High Five, Kate, right there!

Nice to finish what has been a difficult blog to write on a positive, grateful note. Happy Holidays.

Note from the curator

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