By Mark Richards.

As we did in the middle of last month, we take a day off from the doom, gloom and interminable Brexit boredom to look for some good news in the world. We celebrate the people who made a positive difference, who put a smile on plenty of faces and who gave us hope that the future might not be quite as grim as the headlines would suggest…

I am truly sorry to disappoint you this morning. I know – with yet more news breaking over Brexit and with another nail-biting vote due in Parliament next week – that you wanted 1,000 words on the latest developments from Brussels. I absolutely understand that you have not read enough about Brexit or seen enough stories on the news.

Sorry.

Instead, it is that time of the month when we concentrate on good news stories. And as we look forward to the first weekend of Spring, there are plenty of them. Starting with…

The mouse who tidied up a workbench

Gloucestershire pensioners Stephen Mckears was baffled. Every night he left a few things out on his workbench (in his garden shed, where else) and every morning they were neatly back in their plastic tub – no doubt where they should have been, according to Mrs Mckears.

But it wasn’t the wife doing some late night cleaning. Neither was it a friendly neighbourhood ghost. So what was it? Questioning his own sanity, Stephen set up a camera in his garden shed with the help of a neighbour.

…And discovered that a mouse was tidying his workbench. Whatever Stephen left out, the mouse duly tidied away in the plastic tub, on one occasion being filmed working from midnight to 2:30 in the morning without a tea-break.

“I’ve started calling him Brexit Mouse,” quipped Stephen, “As he’s stockpiling things for Brexit.” Today is probably the day to stay away from political commentary but at least Brexit guarantees one thing – a tidy workbench…

The Seven Hour Samaritan

Sadly, Ron Gillies’ mother was dying. With his wife, Sharleen, Ron was driving from Scotland to Cambridge to say his final goodbyes. Unfortunately, they were involved in a minor collision which left their vehicle undriveable and them unharmed but stranded at the side of the road.

They called their insurance company who helpfully told them they could not be picked up for at least three hours – and even then, they would only be given a lift to the nearest railway station.

Step forward a knight in shining armour, Dean Moore, who had been driving to his own home in North Ormesby (part of Middlesbrough) when he saw the clearly-distressed Gillies at the side of the road. “No problem,” said Dean and drove the couple to Cambridge and the bedside of Ron’s mother. They arrived in Cambridge at midnight after a 3½ hour drive – whereupon Dean went to the loo and drove another 3½ hours back home.

Ron’s mother died the following day. Dean said he was “a bit tired” at when he finally arrived at work…

Reasons to be Cheerful – Part 3

The world’s cleanest road signs?

Ever been on holiday in Greece? Noticed the poor, inadequate road signs that the locals have all-too-frequently used for target practice? You will not find anything like that in Nottinghamshire which – thanks to Liam Wildish – may just have the cleanest road signs in the world.

21-year-old Liam has just set up his own window cleaning business – but in his spare time he uses his brushes to clean the local road signs which he says, “improves safety and makes the area look cleaner.” Not surprisingly, Liam has developed an online following, where local residents can suggest the next road sign that needs cleaning.

Naturally, the local council are enthusiastically behind Liam. A killjoy spokesman said, “Legally we must point out that anyone undertaking such activity does so voluntarily and entirely at their own risk.” No doubt several other local councils will shortly be on the phone offering a hefty transfer fee for Liam…

The community fridge

We all know that there is lots of food waste – from supermarkets, restaurants and even individuals. We also know that there are plenty of people going hungry…

So what better than a community fridge?

A charity that has already launched 50 community fridges in the UK is planning to open another 50 within the next 22 months – with each fridge estimated to save half a tonne of food a month.

The idea is simple: business and individuals donate food to the community fridge, and anyone who needs the food can take it.

“We are thrilled with how successful community fridges have been,” said Hubbub founder and CEO Trewin Restorick. “The fridges save valuable food and [also] bring people together and have become real community hubs. They have developed to be positive, social spaces.”

One Billboard Outside Atlantic City, New Jersey

So far all the good news this month has come from the UK – but now it is time to head over to North America.

Chris and Mike Ferry both live in Florida: their dad, Christopher, lives in New Jersey – the small matter of 1,100 miles away. So Chris and Mike could not be with their dad for his birthday. No problem: they hit on a novel solution to wishing the old guy a happy birthday.

On his birthday Christopher woke up to a text. Happy birthday, it said.

Who’s this? Christopher replied.

It’s Nick. You don’t know me. But the billboard said to wish you a happy birthday.

Huh? Yes, Chris and Mike had taken out an entire billboard saying ‘Wish my dad a happy birthday. Love, your sons.’ And there on the billboard was Christopher’s name, face and phone number.

Chris and Mike expected that the billboard would remind friends and family about their dad’s birthday. But with it hanging above a major turnpike just outside Atlantic City, Christopher was soon inundated with text messages and voicemails. He even got a new name. “The waitress in the restaurant recognised me,” he said. “I’m now known as Billboard Guy.”

What a great idea. And with my birthday coming up at the end of the month, this is a story I might need to share…