My various interests result in membership of several different 'teams'. When I'm enjoying a morning coffee, Telegraph in hand, timing myself completing the 'moderate' sudoku, complete strangers join me for a chat. They are members of one of the 'teams' to which I belong. Examples are the 'Rugby fanatics' team, the 'Wind farm sceptics' team, the 'Parkinson's Disease' team, etc., etc.. My team with the strongest bond of all is the 'Welsh Language speakers' team. This post is about my membership of the 'Ostomates' team - and that's because I've just opened my latest copy of Tidings, the house magazine of the Colostomy Association. I've been a member or over six years.
This post is a tribute to Ernie Hulme. Actually, its a tribute to all those thousands of other Ernies as well, who give so much of themselves to benefit others. Ernie used to be a lorry driver from the Midlands, until he went down with Bowel cancer. First time I heard about him was when I was awaiting an operation to remove my cancerous rectum and to create a colostomy in its place. A few days after my op Ernie drove over to meet me, and we've met and spoken several times since. Sometimes I'm roped in to speak at events. I thing he shared my awareness about how lucky we two were to survive, and wanted to help others who had gone through the same experience.
Anyway, Ernie's just been to Buck House to meet the Queen, along with Sue Hatton, retiring Chair of the CA. It was a special reception for people working in health care across the UK. That's the wonder of having a royal head of state. Last week it was Barack and Michele Obama who were wowed by a meeting with the Queen. This week its my good friend, Ernie and others like him, who do great work, quietly and unheralded. Ernie tells us that he considered it a wonderful honour and that he had a special time.