Richard Littledale
Richard Littledale
radio microphone
BBC Radio 2Janice Long Show
Alex Lester Show
Pause for Thought
Richard Littledale: Series 18, Number 2
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Tuesday 7 February 2012

When I was at Primary School we had a teacher called Mrs Preston. She was a no-nonsense kindly seen-it-all-before kind of person - and most of us were just a little bit afraid of her. One of her favourite phrases in school assemblies was "there's no such word as can't". At first I was so gullible that I actually believed her. Time went by though - and soon taught me otherwise. A little something of Mrs Preston must have lingered though - let me tell you why.

Just before Christmas I wrote a little children's story all about "the littlest star". At its first public reading everybody seemed to love it, and I came up with the mad scheme to try and get it published in time for Christmas in aid of a Children's hospice. Of course it was a daft idea really - and I should have listened to the experts who told me it couldn't be done. Mrs Preston's voice was still in the back of my mind all these years later, though, and I was not to be beaten. I put out a plea across social media and offers of help came in from across the world. In the space of three weeks the book was written, illustrated, designed, printed, promoted and placed on sale in the shops. All sorts of people bought it both locally and online, and I ended up being interviewed about it on Christmas morning on BBC Radio. It was a little miracle, and Mrs Preston would have been proud.

There's all sorts of reasons why it worked, but here are the main ones. The cause was good - people are always willing to help children in great need. The timing was right too - everyone wants to help at Christmas time. The other thing, though, is this - people were just incredibly generous with their time, their talents and their money.

Sometimes we only get to hear about the bad in the world - but there's plenty of good too. People who work in charities all the time probably see this a lot - but for me it was a first. One little idea ended up as one huge success, because, as Mrs Preston said, there's no such word as can't.

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© BBC 2012
This talk by Richard Littledale was first broadcast as BBC Radio 2's night time "Pause for Thought"
at 01:30 during the Janice Long show and at 03:30 during the Alex Lester show.
It is reproduced here by permission of the BBC.