Happy old year! 12 uplifting stories you might have missed in 2021

31 December 2021, 12:04

LBC has dug up 12 good news stories you might have missed this year
LBC has dug up 12 good news stories you might have missed this year. Picture: Alamy/social media/Scottish SPCA

By Daisy Stephens

Lockdowns, court cases and a Taliban takeover - 2021 hasn't exactly been easy.

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But amongst all the doom and gloom, there are heartwarming stories that suggest things might not have been quite as bad as you remember.

Here are 12 uplifting stories you might have missed - one for each month of 2021.

January: China banned some single-use plastics

On January 1, China's ban on single-use plastic straws and bags came into force.

They are one of the very few countries to introduce an outright ban - and for a country which has traditionally been difficult when dealing with environmental issues, this is a big deal.

It's especially good news because China gets through a lot of plastic straws - so a ban has the potential to bring real benefits for the environment.

February: Govt appoints first Youth Mental Health Ambassador

Depending on how tuned in you are with the workings of the Government (or reality TV), you may not have missed this. But it's made this list because the appointment of the UK's first Youth Mental Health Ambassador is a monumental step in tackling the growing mental health crisis in the UK.

Dr Alex George, an A&E Doctor and contestant on popular reality TV show Love Island, was given the role in February 2021 after he lost his younger brother to suicide the previous year. His clinical expertise and personal experience has since been utilised by the Government, and the appointment itself suggests attitudes towards mental health problems really are shifting away from shame and stigma to acceptance and action.

March: Pandemic spawns interest in science among young people

A poll published in March showed the pandemic created increased interest in careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) amongst schoolchildren.

Out of 1,000 11 to 17-year-olds who were surveyed, 83 per cent said they watched the news to learn about the pandemic, with nearly three quarters saying they asked their parents about it because they were interested.

Children were inspired by the work of scientists and doctors throughout the pandemic
Children were inspired by the work of scientists and doctors throughout the pandemic. Picture: Alamy

Two thirds said they were inspired by the work of frontline health staff.

And nearly half said they were interested in a career in STEM after seeing how the work of doctors, scientists statisticians - amongst others - benefited the fight against coronavirus.

April: Supermarket worker goes above and beyond for a young customer

In April, a seven-year-old girl fell in love with a Squishmallow rabbit toy she spotted in an Aldi store in York and decided to save up for it.

To her dismay, when she returned with the money she found it was sold out.

Enter store manager Jamie, who called around all the local Aldi stores to try and find one for her - and when he couldn't locate one, gave her one he had purchased for his own child, saying it would not be missed.

According to Yorkshire Live, the little girl - Cat - was left "practically in tears" by his kindness, and wrote him a letter to say thank you.

May: Dementia patient given new lease of life in a unique way

It's been a tough couple of years for care home residents, but in May the lives of some patients were transformed in a very unique way - through the use of robotic pets.

Read more: Dementia patient speaks for first time in 18 months with aid of 'robo-pet'

One resident of Admiral Court care home in Leigh-on-sea spoke for the first time in more than a year, much to the delight of her carers.

She broke her 18-month silence to call a robotic cat "beautiful" as she held it in her lap and stroked it.

Now carers are hoping to roll them out to other care homes, because of the comfort and stimulation they give residents.

June: New method of tackling smoking among homeless people

In June, a new trial was announced to help homeless people quit smoking.

People without permanent addresses - who are more likely to smoke than the general population and may find it harder to get help quitting smoking in regular ways - were given free e-cigarette starter packs, thanks to funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

It was the first trial of its kind in the world - and, if it works, it could be rolled out to other homeless shelters.

Read more: Homeless people to be given free e-cigarettes as part of new trial

July: England fan who skipped Euro semi-final for the best reason given a reward

Sam Astley, a 24-year-old football fan from the midlands, was given the chance to go to the crunch England v Denmark match - but did not think twice about skipping it to donate life-saving stem cells.

News of his selflessness went viral, until finally tournament sponsor Vivo said they would give both Mr Astley and his girlfriend Beth Hill tickets to the final against Italy.

Not only did Mr Astley's story get him free tickets, but it also thrust conversations about stem cell donation into public view.

Read more: England fan who skipped Euro semi-final to donate stem cells given tickets to final

Sam Astley thanked people for their support from his hospital bed after the procedure
Sam Astley thanked people for their support from his hospital bed after the procedure. Picture: Sam Astley

August: Strangers give huge tip to waiter who received homophobic message

August's good news story happened in Wisconsin in the US.

A couple reportedly left no tip for their waiter, explaining in a note on the receipt they "don't tip sinful homosexuals".

Eric Salzwedel, co-founder of local non-profit group Do Good Wisconsin, saw and posted on Facebook asking people to donate for a big tip for the waiter.

He wrote: "I plan to go back into the restaurant, request this server and show them that this community and so many others do LOVE them with the biggest tip they have ever received! BUT I NEED YOUR HELP!

"100% of anything sent will be given to the server! We know unfortunately this money won't change some people's behaviours, but hopefully it will show the amount of love there is for this server!"

A massive $4,500 was raised by 250 donors, and Mr Salzwedel went to the restaurant to give the waiter the tip in-person.

September: Missing cat returns after 10 years

If a beloved pet goes missing for months, most people would assume the worst.

But Neil and Lucy Henderson had their fears proved wrong when their cat Forbes turned up 10 years later - and just two miles from where he disappeared.

The couple, who lived in Aberdeen when Forbes went missing but had since moved to Edinburgh, were "thrilled" to get a call from the Scottish SCPA after Forbes' microchip led officers to them.

Animal rescue officer Greg Stevenson said he was "amazed" to hear how long he had been missing for, and added he did not know what "adventures" the 12-year-old cat had been on but said he was "delighted" to reunite him with his owners.

Neil and Lucy were "thrilled" to be reunited with Forbes
Neil and Lucy were "thrilled" to be reunited with Forbes. Picture: Scottish SPCA

October: First current professional footballer comes out as gay

In October, Josh Cavallo became the first professional footballer in the world to come out as gay whilst still in the sport.

"Today, I'm ready to speak about something personal that I'm finally comfortable to talk about in my life," wrote the Adelaide United player on Twitter.

Read more: Professional male footballer Josh Cavallo comes out as gay in world first

"I am proud to publicly announce that I am gay.

"It's been a journey to get to this point in my life, but I couldn't be happier with my decision to come out."

The football community rallied around him, thanking him for his "strength and bravery".

Cavallo said he hoped his coming out would show "everyone is welcome in a game of football".

November: Boy, 8, asks for donations to homeless shelter for his birthday

In November, eight-year-old Isaac from Stoke-on-Trent told his family he did not want any gifts for his birthday, and instead asked people to donate clothing and toiletries to the Macari Centre, a homeless shelter.

In a Facebook post, the centre wrote: "This wonderful young man is Isaac, a pupil at St Mary's Primary School Tunstall who is celebrating his birthday in December.

"This year he has asked that his family and friends do not buy him presents, and instead, he’s asked for donations of toiletries, socks and slippers to donate to the Macari Centre.

"How amazing is that!

"Thank you so much for your kindness Isaac - you are a superstar!"

This wonderful young man is Isaac, a pupil at St Mary's Primary School Tunstall who is celebrating his birthday in...

Posted by The Macari Centre on Thursday, November 25, 2021

December: Strangers rally to send autistic boy birthday cards

When an 11-year-old autistic boy struggled to get anyone to attend his bowling birthday party, his mother Hannah took to social media to ask people to send him birthday cards - and, according to the BBC, he received hundreds.

His mother said she was "overwhelmed" - but the story doesn't end there.

Children responded to Hannah's Facebook post offering to come to Harry's party, and in the end around 30 children attended - some from his school and some family friends, but some complete strangers.

Harry said it meant he could "have a proper birthday".