Read it and weep but not over an OSCAR speech

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So it’s Oprah for president after she led the charge of a new era at the Golden Globes. Not a dry eye in the house apparently after her rousing speech stole the night writes Tracey Rous.

Problem is while Oprah may represent some of the changes we would like to see in the world nothing really has changed. This is THE event where all the attendees should really stick to the day job. As a woman I found nothing so depressing as the protest of black dresses on the red carpet. Every expensive designer gown was still designed to basically make it all about what these women were wearing.  Slashed to the navel, cut to the thigh it was still about selling looks rather than anything like ability or a person’s worth – something that might make a difference.

And the holier than thou string of speeches was infuriating from powerful stars who have turned a blind eye to so many incidents of ill-treatment until it is trendy and career-friendly to speak out. The deluded stance being they can fix everything with a few soundbites from behind a podium with no suggestion they are willing to actually stick their head above the parapet and take a risk to do some good. The Golden Globes was a nauseous back-slapping exercise in “how wonderful are we at being humans in an awful world that needs us to save it” in an industry which really has no interest in what real life is all about.  Unless it boosts the old career.

It’s the worst kind of ivory tower and often only possible because fame creates a surreal platform that rarely questions the motives, knowledge or actions behind the words. When it comes to actual role models I’d like to be throw more names out there – Anne-Marie Lyons-Mummery,  Abdullah Kraam, David Holby-Wolinski, Irene Hicks and Jane Gould-Smith to name but a  few.

Not an Oscar or a Golden Globe between them but they will be hitting the red carpet at an awards do later this month for a lot more than learning a few lines from a script and looking good on the big screen. The NPR team has spent the last month talking to recipients of the British Citizen Awards (BCAs). A national honour bestowed on those who go above and beyond in a number of different categories from service to the community and healthcare to achievement internationally.

We decided to sponsor these awards for 2018 because they are specifically designed to seek out those unsung heroes doing something that really will change lives for the better. Now words like inspirational and humbling can be banded about and should be. Each one of the people I spoke to certainly deserve those sentiments but more importantly it was the sheer lack of “anything in it for me” that has resonated with me ever since.

Each story is incredible from raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity after the most unimaginable heartache or using their expertise to actually create something that does some good from surviving a murder attempt to go on and help victims of domestic abuse to establishing one of the largest clinics in the UK for teenagers in the justice system who suffer with mental health issues. One recipient had risked his career and his safety to create an educational programme for children in war-torn areas even after his father was almost killed by a bomb attack. He wanted to build bridges, show people there could be trust rather than violence between communities.

All have achieved quietly in an unassuming way, many facing extra costs from their own funds after achieving success with certain projects but they have kept on going. Most of them also had one simple truth to pass on – just do what you can. No grandiose speeches of how they had done this and that or how they were going to change things for the better by changing the dress code.

They just did what they did expecting nothing in return. And if they can we all can. I like having their voices in my head and want to hear more from them because their words are without agenda. And over the next few weeks we’ll be doing all we can to ensure their stories are heard loud and proud.

 

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