This is an un-ashamedly feel good news column.

Every year around this time our televisions, newspapers, tablet and mobiles re-wind the clock and take us back through the year looking at all the big stories that were. Late night shows present topical affairs highlights, the Sunday supplements full of ‘photos of the year’ and music countdowns replay all the hits.

We can all see in the act of looking back so many stories of hardship, disaster, divide and heart ache. A momentary glance across online write ups already put together has all the big moments in there from 2019: Accidents (Ethiopian Airlines, plane crash, March), Fear (Terror attacks in Christ Church New Zealand – March and then here, again on London Bridge), Disaster (Notre Dame Cathedral fire, April), Anger (Greta Thunberg speech at the UN’s Climate Action Summit, September) and speculation (the ongoing reporting and unravelling of Prince Andrew’s activities) and so on…

I want to tell you a different story and one that’s in keeping with the season of Christmas.

The majority of phone calls, emails, knocks at our front door and drop offs we get here, all year round and then even more so in these weeks at Cherry Trees all want to do one thing for us – to help and do something for our young people and their families who live with disabilities. Moments like this are happening every day, quietly and unseen by the wider world and it is all good feeling lead by people’s hearts and generosity.

Whilst we are shocked to see that research by the Disabled Children’s partnership revealed only 43% of people have met someone with a disability and know that leaves masses of work in explaining to our wider community about life faced by people with disabilities, let us not get carried away with despair. We see a lot of people wanting to help our cause and it’s heartening. Take our end of year major fundraiser: A beautiful historical setting, a room full of guests in smart Karen Millen dresses and Ted Baker Tuxedos awaiting their evening’s entertainment expectant of music and fine food. What we didn’t expect and weren’t so ready for was the number of guests who said yes to paying for an auction lot to fund an overnight stay for a child to come to Cherry Trees giving their family a break from caring for a precious night in the process. When a father and son stood up and spoke about the effects of having a son (and brother) with complex learning difficulties, how they struggle to spend time together as a family due to their sons care needs coming first the room was not only moved – they responded in droves. Over 20 pairs of hands shot up to pay for the cost of an overnight’s stay at our charity. It doesn’t end there.

Thousands of toys are donated by all of you across Guildford every year in response to Eagle Radio’s Christmas toy appeal, Guildford flower arranging society said yes no problem when we asked for help with flower displays for a fundraiser voluntarily giving their time and skills, whilst Sofa Workshop Guildford are giving us a donation of 10 pounds for every bed sold over the coming weeks, simply because they want to. It’s at Christmas we see companies reaching out - LinkedIn Social media agency are coming to put up the Christmas tree and decorations in the house for the children, a major property developer is going to send gingerbread models of their houses our way and our Christmas fundraising appeal asking people in our community to support us has seen cheques coming in over the last few weeks, many of them donating several hundreds of pounds. At the United Reformed church a Christmas tree festival with 30 decorated trees will be there for people to see and donate to, again benefitting us. So if you go to see the trees, amidst the glow of pine immersed twinkles feel re-assured that there is a lot of good out there. In the story of Christmas, the birth of Christ a messenger of care and compassion, asked of us all to protect the vulnerable and help others.

At the nudge of a year ending and the return of Christmas the goodness that is in all of us, doesn’t twinkle – it shines out and certainly leaves us at Cherry Trees feeling goodwill in spades – thank you all for your love. X