A New Year Idea

In which The Author suggests a resolution to his readers

Things might have seemed fairly quiet on the Anthony Nolan Trust front since I first got behind the Shake4Mike Campaign back in the summer. However, I’m pleased to report that it’s far from the case.
To refresh your memories, Mike Brandon is a young man from Bristol who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. His doctors were trying to find a suitable tissue match for Mike, so that they could begin stem cell therapy. Mike’s fiancée Kate is related to my mother’s next-door neighbour, so I was roped in to help spread the word. The media at home and abroad got behind the appeal, to get as many new names as possible onto the stem cell register in the UK. A couple of months later I shared the good news I’d been given: a suitable donor had been found.
I’m pleased to report that Mike’s been responding well to treatment. It’s a terrific endorsement for the Anthony Nolan Trust, who sent out huge numbers of testing kits to potential donors as as a result of the Shake4Mike appeal. It’s also a testament to the power of social media to do worthwhile things, in the face of constant criticism from the technophobes.
I’m going to try and keep the momentum going if at all possible. I follow the Anthony Nolan page on Facebook, and every few weeks they bring us success stories like Mike’s, interviews with patients and donors, and news of people who, like Mike, stand to benefit from this cutting-edge treatment. So, here’s my suggestion for a New Year’s Resolution or two: I’d ask you to do the same, and ‘share’ the news updates as they come through.
Furthermore, if you fall within the eligibility criteria, please put yourself on the stem cell and/or bone marrow donor register. You can get more information via the Anthony Nolan Trust website. If you know any friends or family members who would be to eligible to join the register, please tell them about it as well. The testing process is completely painless, involving just a saliva sample. The doctors do the rest.
If you’re in university, why not organise a fund-raising event at which potential donors can pick up sampling kits? If you don’t want to go that far, just having a collection box on display can pay surprising dividends. We’ve had a box on the bar in my local pub since the summer; so far, it’s been emptied three times and a total of over £70 has raised by our regulars. It’s a quiet pub in the backstreets of Aberdare – just imagine what you could achieve in a Students’ Union with hundreds of people passing through every week!


The Anthony Nolan Trust is the one charity which I do support, because I’ve seen for myself just how important their work is. While you’re making your New Year’s Resolutions, could I ask you to make them your Good Cause to support throughout 2015 and beyond? It only takes a few minutes, and you could be the one person who can help save a complete stranger’s life. Isn’t that the best Xmas present which you could possibly give someone?

A Lost Opportunity

In which The Author wonders what the phrase ‘creative people’ actually means

A few days ago Andrew Chainey, Aberdare’s multimedia and web whizzkid, an occasional proofreading client, and one of my good friends for many years, posted a link on Facebook. It was a site called (oddly enough) Chainy, and it describes itself as a networking portal ‘for creative people.’ I thought that it might be a good way to find some new clients, and decided to check it out.
I was surprised, and not a little disappointed, when I saw the five categories available for networking: Music, Photography, Film, Design, and Fashion. As a result, I’ve just sent them the following email:
Hi there,
A friend of mine mentioned your site on Facebook a couple of days ago, and suggested that it was a good way to network. I’m a freelance proofreader, and thought it could be a good way to find some new clients. I checked it out, but I was rather disappointed to learn that writing and publishing doesn’t appear to be a ‘creative industry’ in your eyes.
A bit of my own history:
I spent two decades working in the UK book trade before leaving the last of the sinking ships a few years ago. Some of my former colleagues and I decided that it was better to jump before we got pushed. Borders in the UK crashed shortly before, leaving only one national chain and a steadily dwindling independent sector. Given this virtual monopoly demanding ever-increasing discounts from suppliers, only the transnational monsters (Pearson/Penguin, Random House, Hachette, Bertelsmann, etc) stand a change of getting new books onto the shops.
Faced with a loss of sales, small publishers are struggling to survive. Similarly, first-time authors often can’t get a look in. This means that exciting new voices aren’t being heard in an increasingly narrow and boring monolithic retail sector. The Internet should be the lifeline for young writers and independent companies, enabling them to connect directly with their readers.
Personally, I feel that if there was a ‘publishing’ tab on Chainy, it would fill a gap in the market. It would enable writers, publishers, editorial staff and freelancers to meet up in Cyberspace. I believe that a large amount of business could be generated from the resulting synergy of ideas, which would benefit us all.
I’d be interested to know what you think of this suggestion. After all, writers and book publishers were here long before photography, film and sound recording. Between them, they’ve given untold pleasure to countless millions of people ever since the Renaissance, and they don’t show any signs of giving up just yet.
With best wishes for 2015
Steve O’Gorman