Tired of watching TV reports on the war in Syria? Fed up of hearing about famine in Africa? Bored by the bitter brouhaha over Brexit? Yearning to hear some good news for a change? Well, you’ve come to the right place. For the next 400 words or so, I’m going to banish the blues, and focus only on positive, feel-good stories that have made it into the news recently.
First up is the story this week that the world’s first vaccine against malaria has been developed, and will be introduced in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – from 2018. This initial pilot programme will involve 750,000 children between five and 17 months. Despite huge progress in combating the disease in recent years, there are still more than 400,000 deaths from malaria every year, many of them children. The World Health Organisation says the new jab has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.
From tens of thousands to just one life, but no less important for that: a story came out of California last weekend of the dramatic rescue of a man clinging to a steep cliff over the sea.
It happened near China Beach at the northern end of San Francisco. Surfers spotted the man high up on a sheer rock face. He had apparently become paralysed with fear. After unsuccessful efforts to reach him from the ground, a Highway Patrol helicopter lowered a rescuer from above, who strapped him into a harness before they were both airlifted to safety.
Meanwhile, if you were watching the London Marathon on television last Sunday, chances are you would have picked up on the selfless act of sportsmanship that saw one of the runners help another in distress. When Matthew Rees, a bank worker from Swansea, saw an exhausted participant drop to the ground, his legs buckling underneath him, he rushed over. Moments later, he was propelling David Wyeth, a project manager from Manchester, over the last painful stretch to the finishing line.
Just three stories, then, of people coming to the aid of others. But we can be sure that there are many others that don’t make the headlines. Stories of people who trek across Africa to raise money for cancer research back home, or volunteer their time to teach in poor communities overseas, or campaign on issues that matter to our world, issues such as climate change.
Another thing that won’t be making the headlines is that it is spring again here in Oxford. The trees are coming back to life on Christchurch Meadow, the apple tree in front of Christ Church College is blossoming, and the bluebells around Merton College Chapel are out in force.
That’s all good news. Good news too, for the students who will be studying at the OISE school on the High St in the next few months. You will be able to enjoy Oxford at its best.
Simon Wilcox is a tutor at OISE with a background in the media. Holding a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism, Simon has reported for the BBC in England and a major broadcaster in Singapore. He has also worked for newspapers and magazines, and as a website editor for a London-based NGO.