We can be heroes. Celebrating extraordinary ordinary people.

The other day I found myself in Truro at a solidarity event organised in support of the Restore Nature Now march that was taking place in London. I always find attending such gathering is good for the soul, as it is an opportunity to meet new likeminded people and connect with friends.

While there I bumped into Pat Smith, aka Action Nan, who many of you may know.

Pat is an extraordinary woman, and amongst many other things, an ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy. If you haven’t heard of her, there is a good chance you soon will as she can often be heard or seen on TV and radio talking about her passion for the environment.

Pat has tirelessly campaigned for a reduction in plastic. A few years ago she set up The Final Straw Cornwall with the mission to “empower individuals and influence decision makers to make changes to stop the reckless consumerism which is damaging our planet and our future.”

Pat now focuses on using her influence through her Action Nan Instagram and Facebook pages. She talks about her daily beach cleans and posts inspirational ideas for easy ways we can make changes to our lives to better our environment. She self-describes as a “plastic-free champion, TEDx speaker, Grandma,” who is “Creating a community for like minded women who want change.”

The first of Pat’s pinned posts comments “No-one is going to stand up at your funeral and say “she had a really nice sofa and expensive shoes”. Don’t make life about stuff.” Wise words indeed.

What is inspirational about Pat is not that she is exceptional (although she undoubtedly is), but that she is just an ordinary person who has chosen to live in a way that will inspire others to create positive change. She said she thought once that “someone should do something about this,” then thought “that someone could be me”. Pat is spot on. We can all be that person.

Life has changed exponentially over the last few years. It has never been easier to communicate with friends and strangers. We all have access to our own individual media channels. Everyone has a voice. This can make it harder to know what is true and what is false. However we do know that we can usually trust our friends, and that our friends trust us. 

Pat’s success has been built using tools that are available to us all. She has simply had the courage to stand up and say what she believes. You too can do this. 

It can be overwhelming to know where to start, so here are a few tips that have worked for me.

Begin by following accounts like Action Nan that have informative and inspirational content. Think about your passion; is it for going plastic free, reducing consumption, promoting green travel, wildlife, saving trees, green gardening, volunteering, community building? Or do you want to have a general all-inclusive voice? There’s no need to create your own content if you find it too hard, simply share posts that chime with you. 

Take photos when you are out and about of things you see that inspire you. Accept you will sometimes make mistakes and be prepared to listen to others. Stay positive and focus on small changes that are within the power of ordinary people.

It will take more than one person to change the world. We need hundreds and thousands of everyday heroes; there’s always space for more. So the question is, could one of them be you? 

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