It has been a while since from furlough to raising amazing amounts for charity, Keith is back to give us an update from the past 10 months.
So here we are: February 2021, and almost a year since my last blog! How time flies! So much has happened in the last 12 months, it would probably be enough to fill a book let alone a blog! The last time I wrote, I had started my first 12 weeks of furlough which was both daunting yet somehow enjoyable. The weather was warm and sunny and with the beach on my doorstep, the daily exercise we were allowed was not in any way a chore. In that period I tried my best to stay positive and to make those around me feel positive too. As many of you will know, I walk a lot in my spare time anyway and managed to raise an amazing £500 for the NSPCC just by walking 100 miles during that first furlough. I actually completed it on Father’s Day in memory of my Dad who passed away in October 2019.
But going back to work was always going to be on the cards; it was going to be a challenge and a different way of working but nonetheless life had to carry on. I have to say that my employers, First Cymru, were amazing. They helped us all by setting up Facebook pages, holding regular Zoom meetings and always tried to keep us informed about how as a company we would move forward. Safety for all staff and customers has always been the number one priority. From the very beginning of the pandemic we have had PPE in abundance and all drivers have to follow a strict routine by wearing masks, gloves and we have been given antibacterial wipes to wipe surfaces in the cabs when we start and finish the route. Every effort has been made to keep our buses on the road in a safe and secure fashion; reduced numbers of passengers and a reduced service a lot of the time has contributed to this.
After my initial periods of being furloughed, I have been working pretty much full time since the summer until the latest lockdown. It has now become a new normal leaving the house with a mask and wearing it whenever I’m in a shared space. Who would have thought it? It can be a bit of a nuisance at times but it is not the end of the world. Being furloughed this time round has been for a shorter time but it has been more difficult to stay motivated. The days have been shorter and the weather less inviting. It is so easy to just wake up, then turn over and go back to sleep – trust me, we all have days like that and that’s okay as long as the next day you’re able to start over and try to carry on. I’ve found that if I open the front door and have a walk in the fresh air -it doesn’t matter how little or how far, I feel I have done something positive with my day and that really helps.
I mentioned my fundraising earlier and at the beginning of 2021 it has been really fantastic to start a new campaign via my social media platforms to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance. Fundraising gives me a real buzz and a focus to keep me busy. 2020 will be remembered as the year that coronavirus changed the world; so many people have lost loved ones and our hearts go out to the grieving families and friends left behind. We have recently heard the sad news of the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore who quickly became the nation’s hero not just by raising millions of pounds for our NHS but by lifting spirits and showing that anything is possible if you have the right attitude and a positive outlook.
In raising money for the Wales Air Ambulance, I hope to give something to help this vital branch of our emergency services who are called out to any number of different scenarios and have saved many lives. But this year is going to be a challenge with a difference – at least to begin with. I am doing another 365 day Selfie challenge, but obviously taking a selfie with someone else isn’t always a viable option in these days of social distancing and restrictions in travel. However, I am not discouraged, and I am inviting people from all walks of life to “donate” a selfie by sending it to me, then I can post one a day on my social media. Along with the selfie, there is a link to my JustGiving page, where anyone who wishes to can donate any sum they like to help this great charity. I have set a target of £1000, and already an amazing £600 has been raised. I am overwhelmed at the generosity and enthusiasm shown so far. Lots of people have shown interest, including the lovely people at Radio Wales and I even got to chat to rugby legend Scott Quinnell about it. He has sent me his selfie (yet to be posted) as have several other celebrities including the lovely Dave and Shirley from Gogglebox. If you’d like to be involved, feel free to look me up and send me your selfie.
We have all had to deal with life differently this year; my mum is 87 and has had to cope without my dad throughout this difficult time. She has now had her Covid vaccination and is managing remarkably well with life in a pandemic. Four of my family have tested positive for coronavirus and thankfully have all made a full recovery – it has been a worrying time. But as I sit here and look through my window I think about how lucky we are and as long as we are fit and well, life is for living. We are living in a changed world but every day is special and worth living to the full.
My life has certainly taken a direction I could never have imagined nine years ago when I became an ostomate. There are many things I am looking forward to in 2021. Apart from the ongoing Selfie challenge, I am really excited to be part of the #BeTheChange campaign that we began last year in the Senedd. Giving a voice to those of us with hidden disabilities is something I feel very passionately about and raising awareness regarding the use of public toilets and facilities is going to make a real difference we hope.
I am going to continue loving life and posting on my social media every day to encourage all my followers to remain positive and hopeful for a better year. My Messenger, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are always open and I will always reply to genuine messages- even if anyone just wants to say ‘hi.’ 2020 – we never saw you coming- but we have made it through to 2021, and we’ll keep going!!
Have a great day,
JustGiving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/keith-thomas32
Keep up to date with all of our latest news and activity on our social channels: