Amongst the hustle and bustle of a typically busy Monday morning shift at ASDA Ipswich, I uncovered an unexpected and truly heart warming story which I wanted to share with you all. A man came through my till, having laden the conveyor belt with an extraordinary amount of packets of super noodles, all in different flavours. Naturally I was both bemused and a little bit intrigued. Surely one man couldn’t love noodles that much. Normally, we have a strict twelve item limit on any one product and I was about to pass the bad news onto the customer, that he wouldn’t be able to purchase all of the 72 packets of super noodles which stood in neat, four packet columns off to my right on the belt. However, before I could deliver the bad news, the customer beat me to the punch. He must have seen my inquisitive and bemused look as before I could open my mouth, he turned to me and said that ASDA had given him special dispensation to break the twelve item limit and purchase as many packets as he wished. Now if I wasn’t hooked on this situation before, I truly was now. I took him at his word, but just to confirm that he hadn’t been lying, he brought out the official letter of authorisation from ASDA, signed and dated by the store manager. At this point, I could contain my curiosity no longer and finally broke away from my store etiquette and into journalist mode. ‘‘So what are all of these for then?’’ I queried. ‘‘We buy them then send them out to the troops in Afghanistan’’, he replied. Needless to say, I was suitably moved by this unexpected gesture of kindness. In theory, the 72 packets of noodles could help to feed at least 72 troops and all of this at a cost of just £30. However, before I could question the man as to exactly why he was doing this, his wife returned and she seemed very much on top of the world. ‘‘They’ve agreed to help us! This is amazing’’ she exclaimed. As I listened to what she had to say, my faith in humanity was restored a little bit. It emerged that ASDA had agreed to promote and display any posters that this extraordinary couple produced in aid of their cause. Furthermore, the store was going to move to encourage donations from customers in order to put together a full trolley of food for the couple to send out to the troops. The couples delight and glee was infectious and as they hugged each other in celebration, I allowed myself a small smile. It truly was heart warming to see, that even though this couple had no family serving in Afghanistan, they still were going out of their way to help make the lives of those brave enough to defend their country that little bit easier and more comfortable just because they wanted to do their bit to help. Further probing revealed that the couple had various meetings set up with both promoters and the media in the near future and it quickly became obvious to me that very soon this campaign was going to be operating on a much larger scale, all because of the kindness of these two people.
This unexpected discovery amongst the queues and constant, beep, beep, beep of the checkouts prompted me to do a bit more research into this subject when I got home and in doing so I came across another equally heart warming story. Teresa Theobald has a 19 year old son serving in Afghanistan and in early 2007 she began a campaign against Royal Mail. Teresa, also of Ipswich, appealed to Royal Mail to change their postage policies, as well as presenting a petition on the Downing Street website, so that the families and friends of the troops serving overseas would be able to send the troops parcels for free. Her campaign was successful and towards the end of August 2007 the ‘Parcel43’ scheme was born. Teresa is now in the process of implementing another campaign, known as ‘Morale43’, which is an extension of the ‘Parcel43’ scheme and aims to make sure that ALL serving soldiers in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq can be accessed by the free postage scheme and not just some, which is how it is under the ‘Parcel43’ scheme. To their credit, Royal Mail are doing everything they can and I am sure that the ‘Morale43’ scheme will soon become a reality.
In this day and age, when there is so much darkness and evil in the world and we seem to be reporting on murders and deaths every single day of the week, it truly is refreshing to find this heart warming story in amongst the darkness, acting as a beacon of hope for all involved. It is wonderful to find that there are still a few kind hearted souls out there, who have taken just a little bit of time and spent just a little bit of money in order to improve the lives of those brave and honourable enough to defend this country. In my eyes, it’s the very least we can do for them and I believe the actions of people like Teresa Theobald are highly credible and honourable indeed.