Good morning. In all the papers this morning is a very sad story of a wonderful old lady of 92 who was found dead last week at the bottom of the Avon Gorge at Bristol. It is believed that she threw herself off because she was overwhelmed by the demands for money from charities, and recently a large sum of money had gone missing in the post which she had sent to her son. She was very upset by this and lost faith in people.
You can read the story here.
Olive Cooke was Britain's oldest poppy seller, she had given 72 years of service to The British Legion, she was a grandmother and great grandmother. She gave away much of her pension to charities who pestered her relentlessly. It was all getting too much for her. How very sad, that this vulnerable old lady was driven to suicide. Sad, but also very shocking.
I get letters in the post asking for money, usually from charities that I have donated to before. Once they get hold of your details they cling like limpets. Lists of names are sold on and before you know it more demands arrive. I say demands rather than requests, because of the aggressive nature of their literature. Images of animal cruelty and sick children are used to make the reader feel obliged to respond and donate. I'm sorry to say, but all mine go in the bin.
Do not feel guilty about ignoring demands like this. Do not feel guilty about walking away from charity chuggers in the street. Do not feel guilty about not answering the door to charity collectors, or saying no on the phone if you get a call from a charity. This might seem an uncaring and hard nosed way to behave, but I know how much I can afford and who I want to give it to. I have charities named in my will, a large chunk of my estate will go to them eventually.
I do donate to charity, but I give willingly to the charities of my choice, as and when I can afford a few quid. I will not sign up to any direct debits. I'm sorry but I don't do the In Need, the Red Nose, or the Relief thing on the tele either.
Please keep a check on elderly relatives, make sure they are not being harassed. Keep an eye open for any mail that may arrive from a charity, be nosy, ask if they are donating. Olive Cooke was getting piles of the stuff almost daily, she was seen as a soft touch because she found it hard to say no.
Give to charity by all means, but make donations only if you can afford it. Money is tight, I don't have a great deal, but I save up and when I have a donation I send a cheque. Last week I delivered my cheque to Bransby Horses. When I do send a cheque in the post I put a note in for them not to contact me, not to send any begging letters, because I will ignore them if they do.
Above all, don't feel guilty if you can't afford to give on a regular basis, a £1 coin in a box is a lovely gesture.
Glad to get that off my chest. Toodle pip.
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