Changing the world in bite-sized chunks
My late friend Les Halpin told me he wanted to change the world in bite-sized chunks. I wish I could remember the exact words he used. If I had known that only a couple of years later he would be dead, I might have listened so attentively I would have remembered it exactly. Anyway, I do remember the point he was making with absolute clarity. He was a highly intelligent person who had been very successful in business, so he was not naïve and was not an idealist. However, he was sure he could, and should, make a positive impact on the world. We discussed what he was passionate about, what interested him, what infuriated him. Through that discussion, we figured out which bite-sized chunks of the world he wanted to focus on changing. It was a fascinating discussion through which we were together able to design projects which delivered the results he wanted to see.
Les thoroughly enjoyed the process of giving and became part of the institution he was giving to in a real and meaningful way – investing his time and intellect alongside his money. A true philanthropist, he was interested in bringing about long-term change by finding solutions to systemic problems.
Les was diagnosed with MND in May 2011. This focussed his mind on another problem. Why were no new drugs available to patients with rare diseases? With typical energy, Les established a campaign to empower terminally ill people to have access to new medicines, www.accesstomedicine.co.uk. Right up to his death, Les was focussed on ensuring that others would have the opportunity to access treatments which were not available to him. When I feel despondent and think things are too hard to change, I am reminded of Les’ determination to change the world. Even when he was so ill he could no longer physically move, he was forcing change. It really is possible to change the world in bite-sized chunks.
Susie Hills, Managing Director at Graham-Pelton, and friend of Les Halpin