The Eye magazine (Huddersfield) June 2013 – How to be happy

I like to think of myself as a reasonably happy person, but recently I was surprised and very pleased to appear on a national newspaper’s “Happy List”. If you’ve not come across this list, it was set up in 2008 by The Independent on Sunday as a counterbalance to The Sunday Times Rich List or, as the paper put it “our antidote to those greed-is-good rich lists”.

The idea is that instead of celebrating wealth, the newspaper would produce an annual list of 100 people whose activities have made Britain “a more contented, supportive, better-adjusted and happier place”.

My inclusion was as a “Promoter of literature” – for running this year’s Huddersfield Literature Festival. I’m not sure whether our festival events had the transformative effect mentioned above, but hopefully a few people went away happier and it helped Waterstones and the Children’s Bookshop Lindley to sell a few more books.

These kinds of lists are never going to be an absolute or true reflection of the people who should receive recognition. I was nominated by a school librarian who deserves to be on the list more than I do, for the work she does every day encouraging kids to read in an area where many children don’t even own a book. I also know countless people in Huddersfield who raise money for charity and work tirelessly to help others.

I must admit I felt like a bit of a charlatan being listed along with the woman who raised £1m for charity and the little girl who saved her sister from an oncoming car and ended up in hospital herself. The entry also said, “Without any funding…”, when we did have some funding from the University of Huddersfield and the Arts Council.

Still, the festival was rather a labour of love and I’m really not complaining that it has been recognised by a wider audience. And if one day I make it on to the Sunday Times Giving List – which celebrates wealthy people who have given away large sums of money – I won’t be complaining either…



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