Susie FowlerWatt:

How a young man’s kind­ness saved a child’s life

Norfolk - - INSIDE -

A mov­ing tale of a young man’s gen­eros­ity

It’s easy to think the world is go­ing to hell in a hand­cart these days. There seems to be so much neg­a­tiv­ity, even down­right hos­til­ity, and I of­ten get that uneasy feel­ing that we’ve been sleep-walk­ing into dis­as­ter with the ex­plo­sion in our use of tech­nol­ogy.

But just when I am get­ting over­loaded with bad news, and am be­gin­ning to feel de­jected about the fu­ture we’re cre­at­ing for our chil­dren, a story comes along that makes me re­alise how much good­ness there still is all around us. Time and time again, given half a chance, the light out­shines the dark­ness.

To­wards the end of last year BBC Look East re­porter Robby West made a film that brought tears to the eyes. It was about a young boy called Ru­pert and a young man called Billy, who saved his life.

I’m of­ten asked how we get our sto­ries. Oc­ca­sion­ally they come from peo­ple we know – in this case, Robby has known Billy for many years. They used to joke that Billy was a “ter­ri­ble hu­man” be­cause he’d once ac­ci­den­tally knocked over a mate, break­ing his arm. But when they last met up, Billy jok­ingly said he’d evened out the score.

A few years ago he’d joined the bone mar­row regis­ter. He fan­cied a young woman in the sign­ing-up queue, so was mo­ti­vated by that rather than al­tru­ism. But he was no­ti­fied soon af­ter that he was a match for a six-year-old boy who was se­ri­ously ill with a rare blood dis­or­der.

Billy went through a pro­ce­dure to ex­tract bone mar­row from his pelvis and his stem cells were given to Ru­pert, who has made a full re­cov­ery as a re­sult. Look East filmed the mo­ment his fam­ily met their life-saver for the first time. It was hugely emo­tional.

Billy joked that he was quite happy to take the ti­tle ‘Su­per­man’, given to him by Ru­pert. But in re­al­ity, he was very modest about what he’d done, say­ing any­one would do the same. The point is, his kind­ness and hu­man­ity saved a child’s life, and a fam­ily from un­bear­able heart­break.

Billy is now mar­ried to the woman he met in that queue. It turns out he was not such a ter­ri­ble hu­man af­ter all!


A few weeks ago, a video went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia show­ing a teenager phys­i­cally bul­ly­ing a smaller lad on a school play­ing field. It was shock­ing and made you feel an­gry, de­pressed and help­less.

Another symp­tom of our ‘bro­ken’ so­ci­ety? It ap­peared so. But then came the re­ac­tion. An on­line up­ris­ing of sup­port for the boy be­ing abused, from thou­sands of strangers across the land. In just 24 hours, more than £100,000 had been raised for him and his fam­ily, who are refugees.

No one was kid­ding them­selves that money was go­ing to solve all their prob­lems, but it was a way to show how much peo­ple cared, that this fam­ily’s suf­fer­ing had been wit­nessed and they were not alone. Do­ing some­thing pos­i­tive for some­one else – whether big or small – is an an­ti­dote to neg­a­tiv­ity. Let’s all do more of it in 2019!


I loved hear­ing that Princes Wil­liam and Harry used to be taken lit­ter­pick­ing in Nor­folk by their fa­ther when they were boys. This was ap­par­ently billed as a ‘hol­i­day’, and they as­sumed ev­ery­one did this kind of thing. And don’t we wish they did? In fact, ev­ery­one just pick­ing up their own lit­ter would be a start!

Af­ter watch­ing a report about plas­tic pol­lu­tion on Look East, Nigel and Jenny Ford re­cently started their own cam­paign called ‘Love Nor­folk, HATE lit­ter’. They’re call­ing for all Nor­folk res­i­dents to col­lect a min­i­mum of three items of lit­ter a day. The idea is that with us all mak­ing a small ef­fort we can achieve a huge amount. Well, if the Royal fam­ily can do it, surely we can too?

ABOVE: Billy and Ru­pert

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