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The year that changed my life

Putting this year into words is almost seemingly impossible. How does one quantify the amount of causes they have visited, the amount of inspirational people they have met and the sheer volume of passion and compassion witnessed?

When I signed up to visit 45 charities over the course of a year, I didn’t fully comprehend how that would change my life. How this journey would shift my soul into a place that can never, ever be changed. This year without a doubt has changed me as a person, a man and a human being.

I guess the difficult thing for me is that as of right now, there is no-one (that I am aware of) who has been immersed to completely in 45 different charitable organisations. A feeling and experience I cannot share with anyone else. But, today I want to try and share that feeling with you.

There really is only one word that I could even try to describe this year; Overwhelming. So totally overwhelming that I am almost finding it impossible to put into words how I feel. Sad, upset, happy, ecstatic, emotional, humbled, inspired, motivated. The list goes on. Every single week this year I have met new people, seen new causes and experienced on the ground what it takes to get on your hands dirty and help those people who need it most.

Never in my life have I been brought to my knees and humbled like I have this year. Never in my 27 years have I ever looked up at the sky and been so thankful that these people, who I have brushed shoulders with, are here on this earth. The amount of angels that have dropped from heaven that I have had the honour of meeting is beyond belief. Thousands of people scattered across this country that so tirelessly dedicate their lives to making sure that people, animals and everything in between are cared for, looked after and respected.

The amount of visits I have cried at is un-countable. The amount of people that have given me Goosebumps in insurmountable and the amount of sheer emotion I have felt this year is more than I will ever feel in a lifetime.

See – the thing is, the Nicest Job in Britain is more than just a job, it’s a way of life.

When Utility Aid launched their search for a National Philanthropy Manager, I don’t think anyone involved understood the impact that this role would have on the individual. And, to be totally honest I don’t think even now anyone understands how this job has impacted my life; because, quite frankly, they haven’t done it.

How do you even begin to explain the feeling attached to a young boy passing away at Martin House.

Being blindfolded at Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Caring for abandoned dogs at Animal Rescue Cumbria.

Looking after seriously ill animals at Wood Green.

Doing the tea run for terminally ill patients at a Marie Curie Hospice.

Watching the Great Western Air Ambulance lift off to save a life.

Practicing for the annual summer dance with disabled adults at Fitzroy.

Cycling almost 100 miles with double leg amputees with Help for Heroes.

Delivering over 10,000 meals to vulnerable people with Fareshare.

Watching open-heart surgery on a 10-year-old boy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Being a Zoo-keeper at the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

Granting wishes to terminally ill children at Make-A-Wish UK.

Witnessing the youth of tomorrow become the new leaders of our society at Scouts.

Cuddling donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary.

Watching talented artists deliver theatre to people with leaning disabilities with Theatre Alibi.

And Skiing with people who once thought they would never Ski again with Disability Snowsport

How could you understand all of that, in just one year?

And how could I possibly articulate those experiences, week after week into a single article?

The truth is I can’t.

I can’t fully explain the experience I have had this year because in all honesty I am still processing it. But what I can muster into words is that it’s changed my life far beyond any recognition. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Fact.

And that leads me onto the future. I am sure many of you are waiting with bated breath to see my next move, what I plan on doing with my life after the Nicest Job.

I have 2 little buns in the oven (figuratively speaking) and they are both very exciting.

The first is the Nicest Job in Britain 2.

Yes, that’s right – we are re-running the program. But alas, I will not be traveling the country again, this time we will be looking for somebody new to take on this challenge; 40 new charities, 40 new opportunities and 40 amazing new weeks for you to travel the country and Do More Good.

For me I want to be able to give somebody the same opportunities that I have had and the only logical way to do this is with the Nicest Job in Britain. I will be managing the program and developing it from this year. So, in early 2016 we will re-launch the campaign to find the new National Philanthropy Manager. Anyone can apply, so if you feel you can take on this incredible, life-changing role – then keep your eyes peeled.

But secondly and more personally I want to give back to all those amazing people that I have met this year that give so selflessly to others. So, The Good Deed Foundation will be set up to do just that. Reward inspirational individuals with gifts, to say thank you for their love and compassion towards others. My plan is to get this as a registered charity and work with individuals, organisations and beyond to change people’s lives. Taking my idea of the Good Deed Diary and putting some force behind it – amplifying my idea into a tangible organisation that can help in some way, change lives.

The two will work seamlessly alongside each other, both separate but joined in trying to make this world a little better.

But aside from that I walk into the festive season knowing that 2015 will always be ‘that year’. A year I can never forget.

A year that I met so many amazing people, visited so many amazing charities and been involved with so many inspirational causes; but above all of that – made so many amazing friends.

So I want to say thank you.

To Resources for Autism for being my First

To Bag Books for showing me that story telling is for everyone

To Martins House for showing me compassion even at the end of a child’s life

To Bliss for allowing me to see life from the beginning

To Cystic Fibrosis Trust for highlighting that not all conditions are visible

To Guide Dogs for the importance of the precious gift of sight

To ROSPA for the hidden work you do in keeping us all-safe

To Brain Tumour Research for the determination to fight a cause

To Sibs for not forgetting anyone

To Animal Rescue Cumbria for the gift of furry feet

To the British Heart Foundation for saving my life

To National Trust for showing me beauty

To Wood Green for allowing me to save little lives

To Cuan Wildlife for appreciating all things large and small

To Lively Minds for showing me that we all deserve a chance

To Marie Curie for the importance of living life to the full – even at the end

To Great Western Air Ambulance for giving me hope that I’m always safe

To Spinal Injuries Association for showing me that 2 wheels are not a curse

To Fitzroy for showing me we are all people who want to have fun

To The Apuldram Centre for showing me how communities can come together

To Help for Heroes for making a mark on my soul.

To Diana Award for your tireless work in recognising others achievements

To Disability Resource Centre for giving access to everyone

To Fareshare for feeding those who would not be fed

To St Vincent de Paul for helping the homeless

To Just Giving for creating a platform that changes lives

To Birmingham Children’s Hospital for closure

To Stonewall for showing me that we are all equal

To Welsh Mountain Zoo for making my dreams come true

To The Chatterboxes for showing me that children are the future

To Make A Wish for touching my heart

To Scottish Wildlife Trust for the importance of nature

To Marine Conservation Society for opening my eyes

To Parkinson’s UK for your unwavering spirit to change the world

To Scouts for your determination to make a difference

To Emmaus for giving second chances at life

To Young Epilepsy for your love and compassion

To the Donkey Sanctuary for warming my heart and soul

To Royal Air Force Defence Museum for keeping things alive

To YMCA for your services to young people

To Theatre Alibi for the gift of theatre

To Maria Cristina Foundation for inspiring me to keep going

To Mencap for your passion to change a stigma

To Disability Snow sport for allowing those to Ski again and for the first time

To Maggies for showing me compassion in the darkest of times

To Turkish Airlines for giving me the holiday of a lifetime

To Hollywood Monster for giving me an unforgettable car for the year

To British Gas for your support

To Viva for your faith

To my dad for his love and support through the good and the bad

To my sister for always listening

To my mum for always making me laugh

To my grandparents for calling me every single day

To Gerry for having the faith that I could do this and standing by my side

To Neile for being there, always

To Jill for getting my up those hills

To Zoe for everything

To Gary for your belief

To Billy for your mentorship and friendship

To Giles for making this happen

To Melissa for making sure I was always ok

To Maura for being my inspiration and light to start this unbelievable journey

But most importantly

Thank you UA for changing my life

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