A message from Mike and Jules Peters, co-founders of the Love Hope Strength Foundation
In a year full of hardship for many, there have been lots of heroes. As 2020 draws to an end, we have been reflecting on who has shown real love, hope and strength for others and what has made a real difference for people this year. As part of our reflections, we have decided to have a Love Hope Strength person of the year for the first time so we can shine a light on someone who deserves to be recognised. We of course know that many people are deserving of this ‘award’.
We are in a position where we regularly come across inspirational people: medical teams, volunteers and fundraisers, patients and musicians. When we decided to establish a Love Hope Strength, or LHS, person of the year we considered what this meant and what this person may have done. It’s not just about being a dedicated supporter of the Love Hope Strength Foundation; it’s about being dedicated to giving others love, hope and strength. We believe that one person fits this description perfectly for 2020.
Chris Summerill has joined us on many of LHS’ ‘rocks’ events in the UK in recent years, performing solo and with his band Tin Goose. A charismatic music teacher from Coleg Y Cymoedd in South Wales, Chris is a fabulous performer and great fun. As a committed health enthusiast, Chris has always been the ideal person to rally hikers up a mountain. If you have been on an LHS hike, you will remember Chris for his energetic dancing on tables and his ability to get a crowd singing along and smiling. This is not why Chris deserves to be the Love Hope Strength Person of the Year this year, though.
Chris broke his back in November 2018 after getting hit by a car whilst he was out cycling. Chris fractured his T11 and T12 vertebrae. The T12 was basically in half through the horizontal axis, but luckily he didn’t suffer any nerve damage. Chris was in a spinal brace for three months and off work for six months.
During that time, Chris’ niece Harriet was also in hospital. She was 4 then and, having been born with half a heart, was having some serious open heart surgery. The operation drastically improved her quality of life. A year almost to the day after Chris took off his spinal brace he ran a 42 mile ultramarathon for the charity ‘Little Hearts Matter’ in her name.
When 2020 began, Chris decided to sing a different song every day and share this with others on social media. Despite some days being exceptionally tricky – South Wales suffered horrendous floods earlier in the year before Covid hit the region hard – Chris has kept his promise and has shared a live song for his friends every single day. Today he is on day 356 of his 366 Song Challenge. When the UK locked down for the first time, back in March, Chris began a weekly live acoustic session in his garden, which has moved to his shed in recent weeks. Chris has involved his young music students, children and friend in providing quality performances that have undoubtedly helped keep up people’s spirits. During this time Chris has learnt to play the violin, focussing on this to help keep his own spirits up.
Chris has shared valuable insights into Covid-19 in an easy to understand format via social media, particularly in the early days of the pandemic. Even when serious, Chris’ positivity radiates and his passion for life shine through.
Why has Chris stood out this year, and why does he deserve to receive the award for the 2020 Love Hope Strength person of the year? Because Chris has faced adversity and has come out of it determined to keep learning, living and loving. His determination to live life to the full, even in these difficult days, has given lots of people, from his students, to his local community, to his many social media followers from across the world, the love, hope and strength they have needed to get through 2020.
Well done and thank you to Chris, and thank you to those who suggested that Chris be recognised for his ‘contribution to life’.
Chris will receive a special token of our appreciation in the next few days. If there is someone you think deserves to be recognised with a small token of appreciation for what they have done in 2020 in your community, please send a private message so we can arrange for them to receive something in recognition for what they have done.
Photo: Chris Summerill and Mike Peters, Snowdonia Rocks 2019 taken by Stuart Ling