Yes, I am still here – honest! I think that when I had promised one or two blog posts a week, I was underestimating the time-consuming, all-encompassing, never-ending work required for writing a book. (And if anyone knows of any competitions for the most hyphenated compounds used in once sentence – please let me know).
I would like to introduce some ladies to you, who I have been meaning to blog about for a while. I met them when the Kings Cross area was having a much-needed, glam-central total re-vamp (made the second one up – doesn’t count).
I am so glad that I dropped by their stall. I mean, it was a stall full of books – naturally I was drawn to it immediately. I don’t need to tell you much more, as one of them has sent me a wonderful email highlighting their touching personal journey, along with what it is all about….
“10 Months ago, at 19 years old, I was told I was terminal. I was alone, and scared, and desperately overcome with the need to do something, to prove something, to leave a legacy. That’s as far as it went for 8 months. Just a desire, a need, to leave the world in a better state than the one I had entered it in.
I turned to the one thing that had ever helped me, The Harry Potter series. I read and I read, and I continued to read, I wouldn’t leave the house without a copy of one of the books with me, just incase I would find myself suddenly drowned in the fear of what it is to die. The old battered pages from childhood became more and more worn and more and more loved. Each crease in the page was a sign of the dedication I poured into the series.
The fear grew, and the pain grew, and so did the constant knocking in my head telling me to do something, change something – anything.
Then August came around, and finally I had something to look forward to, a place to be where I wouldn’t be judged, or mocked, where I didn’t need to worry about an illness, or hide my Harry Potter book shamefully in my bag. I had arrived at Leakycon, an annual Harry Potter convention in America, run by the wonderful Melissa Anelli and Stephanie Dornhelm, and in 2013 for the first time, it came to London.
For the first time in 8 months I felt free. I felt loved. I felt accepted. The growing fear was stopped in its tracks, it was there, but just a dull ache in the back of my mind, easily forgotten, easily ignored.
There I had the best four days of my life, I basked in the love of a series that taught me so much, about friendship, imagination, right, wrong, love, war, good and bad with those who not only understood, but felt it as passionately as I did, who shared Hogwarts with me as their safe place, their escape from the pain of the real world. I collapsed and was rushed to hospital, and yet I was still treated as an equal, as I was pushed in my wheelchair through the crowds in the following days, I wasn’t ignored, or looked down upon. I wasn’t an inferior, I wasn’t patronised. I was treated with the exact same respect and love I had been before my collapse. I was liberated.
During Leakycon, I found The Harry Potter Alliance. The HPA is a non-profit organisation formed in America. Since their formation in 2007 they have donated over 90,000 books to disadvantaged children across the globe, sent 5 cargo planes full of supplies to Haiti and broken phone banking records with Mass Equality in support of Equal Marriage. And they have done it all in Harry’s name. Over the last 8 years they have spread from America across the globe, touching hearts across the world with their weapon – love. But I was shocked to discover they didn’t have a single British chapter.
After Leakycon I retreated home with my head held up high, ready to finally make that change. I began thinking of the hope the Harry Potter series, and books in general had provided me, and I began to imagine my life without them, and worse, the position I was currently in without the Harry Potter books as a crutch of un-wavering support. It was from there, I created London Loveiosa, the London chapter of The Harry Potter Alliance.
In the two months since our formation we have collected over 1000 books for organisations and charities across London including St Mungo’s, Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Sick Children’s Trust, and also received almost £600 in donations at our Flourish and Blotts one stop book drop at Platform 9 3/4 in just one weekend in September. We are held a 9.3 mile walk around London on October 31st to raise more money for our chapter as well of dozens of other campaigns over the next 12 months. We have helped to support The Harry Potter Alliance’s current campaign – Equality FTW which as of this moment has raised $150,000 and is constantly on the increase.
Andrew Slack once said that Fantasy is not an escape from our world, but an invitation to go deeper into it. And I agree. My biggest inspiration is The Harry Potter series, and that stands for a lot of my generation, whether you consider yourself a “Potterhead” or “wizard activist” or even ” a bookworm” or not, it had an effect on all of our lives. So why not use that? Why not take a passion, an obsession, a like or a dislike, and turn it into a weapon to create a better world, not a fantasy one, but the one we live in. Why leave it up to the politicians? Why leave it up to anyone? The future of our world is in our own hands.
Now, I feel fully liberated from the need to help the world before I go, knowing that I have provided hundreds of children in similar, or worse positions than myself an escape and a safe place, whether that is at Hogwarts or in any other story. It is no longer a need, but an overwhelming love and want. I want to change the world and I want to do it in Harry’s name.
I don’t think there is much more I need to say here. I can’t possibly follow that with my ramblings. I was blown away by this heartfelt and moving message. It proves. once again, that some people (especially this one) are just beautifully inspiring.
I was absolutely honoured when they followed up to this email, telling me that they have been inspired by my Postcard project and embarked on their own similar venture which you can read about here.
London Loveiosa Girls – this one is for you.
With so much love,