My View, Mel Hewitt - Human nature’s central role

Mel Hewitt and her daughter Lizzie at a fundraising event for Doncaster St John's Hospice.
Mel Hewitt and her daughter Lizzie at a fundraising event for Doncaster St John's Hospice.

I recently had the great pleasure of being Rony Robinson’s guest for the My Life So Far feature on his BBC Radio Sheffield show.

The questions ranged from what sort of childhood I had growing up in Sprotbrough in the 1960s, to how I met my husband.

It made me think about what has happened in my life.

Rony has a real gift for putting guests at their ease, getting quickly to the heart of the things that matter to you and that have shaped who you are.

The whole experience was very uplifting and thought-provoking.

How different, for example, was my childhood to that of my own children?

A childhood where we could all wander off in an amiable gang, with the bigger children looking after the little ones; where Wimbledon fortnight meant turning the street into a makeshift tennis court and when half a crown’s worth (12.5 pence) of sweets filled a white paper bag.

Then I began to think about how each generation has a different experience of growing up and each – no doubt – thinks theirs was better.

My dad was eight when the Second World War broke out.

He remembers the sky, dark with planes setting off on bomber raids and the excitement of older brothers on leave returning with little gifts of chocolate or a tin toy.

My grandmother bore the stress of four sons serving abroad and living in fear of a telegram.

The telegram came in September 1944 when Dennis, a glider pilot was killed, aged just 26 at Arnhem.

It’s not unusual to hear people say ‘I wouldn’t want to bring a child into this world’ but it has always been like this.

From the Black Death, to the First World War and all points inbetween, there have been terrible as well as wonderful things to experience.

You only have to read a few lines of Shakespeare to know each generation’s experience of the world is human nature, with all its weaknesses, marvels and contradictions and it doesn’t essentially change.

And where does progress fit in? What does it really mean?

We benefit every day from the most marvellous inventions, discoveries and new technologies – but what’s the price we pay?

Human nature will have a central role to play in how we handle the future.

I am encouraged by the good things I have the pleasure and privilege of seeing and being involved with.

One young businessman said to me recently after offering the Hospice Development Appeal some welcome support: “I hope in 20 years’ time someone else in a position to help will be looking ahead and continuing the support for the hospice.”

The great thing is, with all the best and worst of times that most humans experience in a lifetime, I really believe people will still be making a difference.

* Mel Hewitt, Community fundraiser, St John’s Hospice