• Alex Gulland

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men /women to do nothing’ E Burke

Updated: Jun 20, 2018

The blockbuster film ‘Darkest Hour’ celebrates the vision that Winston Churchill, had to ensure that Great Britain remained ‘Great’ and won the war, against a seemingly unstoppable and ruthless enemy.


The film takes place over a short period of time, commencing at the start of Churchill’s tenure as Prime Minister.


As we all know Churchill was totally against the signing any kind of a deal with Hitler and in ‘Darkest Hour”, we see him battling with his foreign secretary and others to ensure that no deal would ever take place.


Driven to distraction by the lack of support in his own cabinet, Churchill decides to seek counsel with the people that really matter — the Great British Public.


He was, after-all, known as ‘The Man of the People’.


In the film we see him abandoning his chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and then stride in a determined fashion, down into the depths of the London Underground.


He then jumps onto a Westminster bound train.


Once recognised by his fellow travellers, he then proceeds to carry out a poll, asking such questions as ‘Should Britain negotiate with Hitler?’.


By the time the train slows into Westminster station, the passengers have persuaded Churchill to never give up and to stand strong in his resolve, to refuse to enter into negotiations with Hitler.


There is still a lot of debate as to whether this scene actually took place in real life.


However, I think that we can all imagine, that at some point in Churchill’s career he would almost certainly have been involved in assessing public opinion.


The scene above may well have been apocryphal, but what it eloquently portrays is the importance of the power of people with good intentions.


There have been many other actions in history, that have involved members of the public making a simple stand, to effect change in a powerful way. We all know the story of Rosa Parks who refused to give up a her seat to a white passenger.

Her brave action helped launch nationwide efforts in the USA to end segregation on public buses.


Who would have thought that such a simple action, by a member of the public, could have such a positive and far reaching outcome. The very humble Mother Teresa struggled for many years, to help the poor and dying. Eventually with the help of the people, the word of her work spread around the world.


Soon there were 700 missions operating in over 130 countries.


Her work continued to expand into orphanages and hospices. She famously once said:


‘Not all of us can do great things But we can all do small things with great love’


As we all know small actions that are nurtured with love and care, can gather great momentum and effect great change.


I’ve been living in Essex for nearly 3 years now.


In that time I’ve made a lot of friends and I have also noticed, how local people have initiated change for the better.


Three people in particular have stood out for me, Claire Lily, Dawn Mander and Laura Thorogood.


Their campaign for 'Safer Roads' was launched in November 2016 after a shocking road accident on Larkhill Road which resulted in two horse riders taken to hospital, one horse injured and one horse Angel was sadly put to sleep at the scene.


Laura Thorogood, Angel’s owner was knocked unconscious, the other rider Kait Fitzpatrick and her horse Eric were both badly injured. Police have prosecuted the offending driver. Five horses have been injured on this piece of road in recent years.  


In a bid to try and ensure nothing like this would ever happen again Dawn, Claire and Laura formed “Canewdon’s Equestrians”.


Their ultimate goal is to represent and enforce safety for ALL vulnerable road users — cyclists, walkers and horse riders.


Since Angel’s death, the three have campaigned tirelessly with the local council and various other government bodies.


They have managed to get support from several organisations including the BHS and RSPB


HRH Princess Anne has written to pass her best wishes onto the campaign and they have also featured in both local and national media. Other high profile supporters include BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine and Martin Clunes


There is no doubt in Claire, Dawn and Laura's minds that their actions, will effect some form of positive change.


This is a great example of people power and illustrates that we are all capable of being part of positive change.


It’s always inspirational to look back in history and visit the humble beginnings of great campaigns and actions.


But it’s even better to look forward into the future and to the work that people like "Canewdon’s Equestrians", are doing voluntarily.


Something tells me that they have the drive and ambition to achieve their goals and much more.


Keep going girls, you’re in great company!



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