Last week was crazy: I went to Singapore for 24 hours. As you do.
It was supposed to be longer to the tune of 12 hours or so, but I did something that I’ve never done before…
Bleary-eyed, while making my first cup of morning coffee, I casually checked my messages. ‘See you at the airport shortly,’ said a text from my host in Singapore.
Halfway through composing a reply, along the lines of ‘You silly person I’m actually not due there until tomorrow,’ I thought I’d better check the itinerary.
The moment it clicks
Do you remember there was a moment in the original Jaws movie when the police chief first thinks he’s seen a shark in the bay?
Or when the young Macaulay Culkin’s character realises that his parents have left him Home Alone?
Well, such a moment was recreated beside my bean-to-cup coffee machine as I realised that my flight had left the airport the night before.
Luckily, Singapore Airlines has numerous daily flights, so I was able to hot-foot it to Heathrow and catch an alternative.
I arrived some 12 hours and 6700 miles later, with just 90 minutes to spare before the start of my engagement. Then I caught another plane back home exactly 24 hours later.
The joy of giving
So why did I go to such extraordinary lengths to fly halfway around the world for such a short length of time? One word: charity.
I was helping to raise money for Carers Trust, and my endeavours contributed to a £40,000 windfall for this worthwhile organisation.
Upon my return, I dashed straight to another charity event in London and compèred a fundraising dinner that put £270,000 into the coffers of Marie Curie, whose incredible nurses provide help when it’s most needed.
But I’m not alone in my charitable efforts, and the reason I highlight them is to draw attention to a fact that I was recently privy to: apparently we are, by a long way, the most charitable country in the world.
All of us give more money to more charities than in any other place on the planet. How wonderful is that?
In a world of bad-news stories, fears about the future, personal struggles and general uncertainty, we still manage to find it in our hearts to give generously and support those who need it.
I’ve recently even gone to the lengths of setting up my own charity (The Martin Roberts Foundation, charity no 1172905), which will provide additional funds to initiatives that support the protection and education of children – including supporting Childline through the sales of a series of children’s books that I’ve written, called The Villes.
However, it also occurred to me that, out of the population of caring, sharing inhabitants of these British Isles, I bet if you did a subset that was to look at the charitable work and giving of the caravanning community, you’d find that it was even more generous and supportive.
For some reason, this wonderful pastime of ours attracts the kind of people who genuinely care about others.
Whether it’s helping to erect an awning in the pouring rain and howling gales, helping someone to manoeuvre a van onto a tricky pitch, or simply helping light a barbecue, the caring nature of caravanners is everywhere.
I’m pretty certain that same kindness manifests itself in the greater charitable community. And that is something of which we should all feel very proud.
Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter.
This wonderful pastime of ours attracts the kind of people who genuinely care about others