Good luck to the marchers; and meet a man who may have to enter my Great People list
Posted on 26 March 2011 | 10:03am
Good luck to all the marchers trying to put a bit of sense into the government before the full extent of the cuts programme is felt, and the Big Society becomes more pressured, more fractured and a lot less Big.
I won’t be among the vast throng as I have a long planned speech at a ‘Great Minds’ conference near Heathrow, but Fiona will be flying the family flag, fired up by the latest report on the damage being done by Michael Gove’s decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future programme. Schools for the many being allowed to fall into disrepair to allow a few free (sic) schools for the few.
At the conference I am attending, the organisers have asked me to speak about the minds of great people I have known and worked with.
The names won’t be too much of a surprise to regular readers but I may have to sneak in an extra one, someone I met at a dinner in Southampton last night.
His name was Geoff Holt. I first noticed him because he had a huge smile on his face as he came towards me. One of the dinner’s organisers told me he had known him all his adult life and the smile was a near permanent feature.
During the dinner he gave me a copy of his book, Walking on Water, in which he recounts the story of how he sailed single-handedly around Great Britain. No lesser personages than Princess Anne and Ellen Macarthur were quoted on the front of the book in praise of his exploits. But lots of people have sailed round GB, I hear you say. Yes maybe, but how many quadraplegics?
Because if I tell you, finally, that he has been paralysed from the chest down and wheelchair bound since he was 18, you’ll understand why he was even more impressive than long-distance sailors I have met.
Here is his website if you want to know more, and his twitter name is @wetwheels if you want to follow him, as I now do, he having tweeted me during the dinner.
Indeed I see he has tweeted this morning asking whether the 300 accountants at the dinner were among the meanest in Britain. We had some great lots, but it certainly was like getting blood from a stone when I did the auction. We got there in the end, and raised a few grand for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, but it’s the first time I have done an auction where the early bidding was between me and an imaginary figure at the back of the room that I pretended was lifting its hand.